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Mompreneur Parenting: Doing the Right Thing By Our Kids

It occurred to me last night that I have taken the easy way out with my children and some of you may be doing the same thing.

It can be incredibly hard to be a mompreneur (that’s a mom + an entrepreneur for those of you wondering).

There’s so often not enough time during the day to do it all, be it all, say it all.

At least that’s how it often feels, right?  And it can just be easier to focus on work and trust our kids are getting what they need from others — spouse, sitter, school, or friends.

But, they aren’t. I realize now, they can’t.

Yes, it takes a village. And, the village, as it currently exists in my life, is no substitute for me.  Not yet.

In so many little ways, I’ve short-changed my kids.  And now it’s time again to do what’s hard.

I first did what was hard three years ago when I moved out of my big house by the lake, gave up my Mercedes (and just about everything else I thought was important) and shrunk my businesses back to the minimum so I could move to a farm with my children, disconnect them from the xBox down in the basement and get to know them again. (Thanks to Craig & Annie for supporting that move; I wouldn’t have done it otherwise.)

It worked.

Since moving back to the “city” (some say Boulder isn’t a real city, but compared to the town of Berthoud where my farm was located, it sure is), something has been lost.

My ten-year old has spent more time on the iPad, my almost 14-year old spends more time on Netflix than I’m truly comfortable with.

The impact of it hit me last night when I realized that my son is on track to becoming someone I don’t really like very much. He doesn’t want to help out around the house, he complains and whines a lot, and his creativity and resourcefulness are locked behind the messages fed to him by a screen I am not controlling.

For someone who espouses a message of investing in community, creativity and resourcefulness as the path to true wealth, I’m failing my children.  As someone who sees our children as one of the very best investments we can make in the future, I am failing our world.

It’s time to do what’s hard. Again.

At this moment, doing what’s hard means canceling a trip I had next week to San Diego. I’ll still head out to Los Angeles to speak at Christina Morassi’s Ecstatic Wealth event, but instead of driving down for Rose Cole’s Priestess Convergence and then back to hear Marianne Williamson’s big announcement, I’ll come back to be with the kids.

This morning, instead of attending Emerging Women Live, here in Boulder, I spent the morning in bed talking with my son about life and I listened to Eve Ensler on the Livestream a bit later. (POWERFUL!)

It was a hard conversation me and my boy had this morning.

I had to find a way to tell my son “I’m scared about the person you are becoming” without decimating his self-esteem.

I decided the best way to handle it was to ask him who he wants to be in the world.

I laid out two paths.

“The path most people take,” I said, “is one of mediocrity.”

Most people choose to provide limited value in the world and, in turn, accept limited return on their investment in life.

They don’t make very much money.  They have limited choices. Not very much responsibility. And their freedom is restricted.  Mostly by lack of time (because they have to punch a time clock) and lack of money (because the amount of money you make is directly tied to the amount of value you provide in the world.)

“The other path,” I offered, “is a harder path, but it’s far more rewarding. It’s a path of impact, experience and adventure.”

I felt nervous as I described this path because I do not want to imprint in my child that the only things that are good are hard because I think many of us have gotten lost there. I did, for a long time.  At the same time, I did want him to take in that the very best of life is reserved for the few who make the effort, provide the value and say yes to the responsibility.

So I explained he could choose a life of adventure, experience and freedom by putting in the effort, doing the things that most people don’t want to do and receive the rewards that come with showing up for the work.  Or as my sister reminded me someone once said “If you are only willing to do what’s easy, life will be hard. If you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.”

Then, I asked him to choose.

I told him he could absolutely choose either path and I would support him.

He said he wants impact, experience and adventure. He said he wants to provide a lot of value in the world and he’s willing to do what’s hard. I breathed a sigh of relief. Because there was no guarantee he would choose that.   But he did.

And that meant it was time for me to do what’s hard and support him on that path.

So I canceled my trip to San Diego and I won’t be hanging with Marianne and Alanis.  Then, I spent the morning with him reinforcing his choice by supporting him to delete the games off his iPad (which, by the way, he did without me even asking him and then complained that I made him do it until I reminded him that he chose to do it), sitting with him while he whined and complained through two math worksheets and reminding him over and over and over again about why he made the right choice and empathizing with him about how hard it is sometimes to do the right thing.

It is for me too sometimes.

Again and again, I’m reminded … it’s worth it.