Though thousands of books have been written on parenting, the old observation is true — children don’t come with instruction manuals.
From day one, parenting is a process of learning through experience, of leaning on God’s guidance and the wisdom of others to direct our children “onto the right path” (Prov. 22:6).
During this graduation season, as my daughter, Stella, finishes high school and transitions to college in the fall, I’m sure I’m not the only parent wondering, Have I done enough to help my children choose the right path?
But as Stella delivered the valedictory speech at her graduation on May 10, her words reminded me that parenting, like so much in life, is most successful when it’s a collaborative effort.
My husband and I have certainly been influential, but our extended family, our church family, her teachers and friends — each, I believe, placed in her life by the Lord — have been important influences as well, and for them, we are so grateful.
Here are some of Stella’s thoughts on success, which I hope will encourage you as well:
“For a long time, I held a view of success that was more distorted than I would like to admit. I have always been determined to succeed, but sometimes it felt as though no matter what I did, I would never be significant enough, kind enough, or most of all, successful enough.
“Last year, during a dark time for many people, with quarantines in effect and sickness all around, I heard a quote that sparked a change in my mind. ‘For our own success to be real, it must contribute to the success of others.’”
“These words, written by Eleanor Roosevelt, cast a new light on my definition of success. Where previously I had looked upon success as something individual, something big that everyone could see, I now saw that success should be measured in small actions, in the relationships formed with those around you.
“Recently I was honored with the ‘Kindness Award’ for actions I had taken to assist one of my fellow students with work she had missed while away competing at a cheer competition. Due to my small actions, she succeeded on her virtual tests. Her words as she spoke about how she saw me as a classmate and as a friend meant the world to me.
“For all the time I had spent dreaming of success, it had been in front of me all along. I realized that I had never been more successful than when my teammates, classmates and friends were succeeding right beside me.”