Help Define a Vision for A Child’s Life

On the surface, our most troubling problems today involving kids appear to be with emotional distress, early sexual activity, violence, drugs and alcohol. But when we look a little deeper, doesn’t a lot of it tie into the fact that kids lack hope?

Leadership guru Tom Peters shares an analogy about a flight crew setting a destination and following through with their flight plan. After the flight plan is set, the crew may have to make adjustments to the plan because of wind changes, obstacles, or storms. But the one element that always guides the crew is their destination. Too often instead of giving kids a destination – clear goals in life and relationships – we give them emergency procedures. They are being trained in schools to “just say no.” Kids are getting more instructions on how to avoid negative relationships and behavior, but have we failed to give them a destination? Have we given them anything to say yes to?

One of the greatest things a parent, mentor, teacher, or coach can do for a young person is help define a vision for their life; a destination. We live in an age where there’s more to look at, view, and be entertained by than at any other time in history. But without a positive vision for their lives, and a positive place for that vision to grow and flourish, kids can get lost in the storms of adolescence and lose any sight of a bright future.

Helen Keller was someone who understood the importance of having vision. Although her parents never saw much hope for her, Anne Sullivan had a vision for Helen’s life – a vision that she could become a productive woman in society. The accomplished and nationally known speaker was once asked, “Is there anything possibly worse than being blind?” Miss Keller responded, “Oh yes! It would be much worse to have your sight, but to not have vision.” Or consider Erik Weihenmayer, who lost his eyesight at the age of 13 to a rare eye disease. Though blind, his vision involved goals to climb some of the world’s highest peaks. Through hard work and persistence, this blind mountain climber has reached three of the world’s highest summits and even climbed to the top of Mount Everest last spring.

The troubles and misfortunes our world throws in front of us often distract us from having a meaningful vision for our lives, for our families, and for how we can love others. But as Helen Keller and Erik Weihenmayer have so powerfully demonstrated, a vision for the future can overcome even the most daunting obstacles.

And a vision for the most important things in life – healthy relationships – can be formed and nurtured the best in families. Through our marriages and the priorities we set for ourselves on a daily basis, we as adults have a responsibility to model positive relationships and teach our kids how to succeed in their own relationship and life goals.

The author Jonathan Swift once noted, “Vision is the art of seeing what’s invisible to others.” Are you helping the invisible become visible for your children? Or what about that young person whose family is not a positive place for their vision to develop? How can you enter into that child’s life and give them hope for a future they cannot see? Your gift of time and love in the life of a child can help create a vision for a bright future. And that is something every child deserves a shot at.