Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A letter to your child

A letter to your child can become the most valuable gift.

Especially as children advance to the teen years, they suffer more and more assaults on their potential to achieve. Parents worry about the many different things that may happen to their child, but achievement in school is usually central. How do you motivate your child?

A simple letter to your child can, over the years, evolve to be the most important message one human can give to another. It serves as evidence of the parental concern that helps secure and motivate a child.

In your letter tell your child of your dreams for them, what you hope they achieve in life. Include family history and stories you want your child to remember.   Remember, this letter may eventually be shared by them with their own children and grandchildren. It can help them better understand their roots, where and who they came from.  It represents that important connection to history.

Some schools have projects to encourage such letters.  They archive these priceless letters for a decade in a 500-pound, vault bolted to the floor in the school lobby, the school time-capsule. That is what the School Archive Project, covered on this blog, does.  But do not wait for such a project in your child's school to write your letter. Each child should always have such a letter from each parent in their scrap book or photo album.  Additional letters should be written every few years, even annually if possible.

Community leaders around the nation, including Mayor Mike Rawlings here in Dallas, are struggling with efforts to improve community mental health. The costs for failure in this area are monumental. But, for each person to write such a simple letter to each of their children is a major step in the direction of improving community mental health. The discussion of what really matters in life will happen more often. The simple writing of a letter, and the reading of it, will help increase the frequency of those priceless parent/child conversations about life. A child familiar with such a focus always does better in school. They can more easily deal with the challenges we all face in life. 

Bill Betzen