By Janice Villanueva
Being a parent is a privilege. Whenever we’re all gathered at the dinner table, talking about the events of the day, I feel a sudden rush of pride and joy. Seeing how my children Coby, Zach, and Reese talk so animatedly about their school, friends, and interests, I still cannot believe that we were actually able to raise such fine human beings!
More than anything, I think my husband Gary and I were blessed to have the foresight to teach and model for them a set of values that enabled them to start strong in life.
Our family is anchored in faith. My husband and I cannot be everywhere with our children, so it is important that they have a relationship with God. Not only will this special relationship help keep their values intact, it will also give them strength as they face challenges in life.
Part of inculcating in them a sense of faith is instilling in them a spirit of gratitude. From when they were still little, we would always ask them to say three things that they are grateful for each and every night. This seems like a very simple act but it is truly powerful in making kids realize how blessed they are. It is a reminder that whatever their struggles, someone up there is watching over them with loving eyes.
Having a sense of responsibility is another way of giving them the opportunity to start strong. My husband and I believe in making our kids accountable for their actions. When they were little, we don’t step in right away when they make mistakes. We allowed them to deal with their mistakes. We helped them process the experience so they can see the missteps or wrong choices which may have caused it. As they grew older, we let them manage their own schedules and requirements in school. If they encounter problems, we let them face the consequences. It gives them a taste of the real world, which they will encounter soon enough.
Correspondingly, being responsible means drawing up personal goals and working hard for them. In today’s world of entitlement and instant gratification, I hope that my children will be able to pave their own path towards happiness and success.
Living a life of purpose
Every moment is a gift, every talent a blessing. That’s why we have always encouraged our children to use their talents and resources to make the world around them a better one. Gary and I have always believed in a life filled with passion and purpose.
Through the years, we gave them opportunities to explore their passion and interests. We exposed them to a variety of experiences so they can start strong, find out what they enjoy, and what they are good at. This exploration of their inner worlds has been an exciting one for all of us. We have discovered that Coby is an exceptional fencer, Zach is a passionate crafter and artist, and Reese is a writer and calligrapher. The process of discovery has not ended, and I am sure that we will uncover a lot more surprises along the way.
Seeing my children growing into their skin, pursuing their unique interests and passion, and working hard to make themselves better brings me much joy. It makes me feel like my husband and I did a good job somehow.
By setting their course towards a life filled with purpose, I know that my children will lead happier, healthier lives. It is a proud moment for any parent when one sees her children testing their wings for flight.
It’s also important to have a positive attitude, I tell them. In the real world, things won’t always go your way, and it’s understandable to be disappointed. But it’s better – though not necessarily easier – to keep your chin up and keep on going. Pick yourself up, smile, and go for your goal!
Complementing all of our efforts is our commitment to provide for our children a healthy, active lifestyle. Good nutrition is front and center here. I plan our menus to make sure our family gets the right amount of nutrients. I choose only the best and freshest ingredients for our meals. So it was but natural for me to gravitate towards Mott’s 100% apple juice. Mott’s is more than just a brand of apple juice, it’s my trusted daily partner to provide the right nutritional foundation for my family anytime anywhere.
My husband and I are truly blessed. We built a strong foundation for our children, and now they have grown up to be disciplined, kind-hearted individuals, trying their best to achieve things in school as they pursue their interests. I’m also happy to observe that they have picked up our passion for entrepreneurship. Zach is active in his teenpreneurship projects in school. Reese published her book and pledged some proceeds to charity. Coby is tinkering on a couple of business ideas which he hopes to get going soon.
More importantly, Coby, Zach, and Reese live with God’s presence. Coby had his rosary with him during his fencing competition. Reese holds a rosary every night. The three of them visit the Blessed Sacrament with us every week to pray. They not only pray when they need guidance, they pray to give thanks. Anchored in faith, I know that they have the best start in life that we can ever give them.
In our family, each and every day counts. By guiding our children’s day-to-day activities, we are laying the grounds for a bright future. Truly, tomorrow starts with what you do today.