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on Leading the Next Generation


An Interview: Creative Mothers and Sons

Vicki Hamilton is one of our board members at Growing Leaders. She has enjoyed a successful career as an executive and along the way—has raised two great sons. I asked Vicki if she’d be willing to let me interview her on some of the creative ideas she used as she raised her boys. She agreed and her responses are below. Enjoy.

mother and son

1. What was the greatest surprise you encountered as a mom, raising two boys?

Boys truly love their mothers. I never understood it when people would tell you it is different and so rewarding. Well, it is true. The way they care for their mothers, protect them and love it when you support them in their activities is beyond words. It was a wonderful surprise.

2. How did you handle the differences in your kids’ personalities?

My sons are very different in a lot of ways, but both of them are out-going. I had to learn what made each one tick and their own individual passions. I then worked to capitalize on their individual needs and wants. One of my sons loved to play sports and that was his life. I spent many hours supporting him at every game, karate match and anything else he wanted to do in sports. Today, he has graduated from college and working in the sports field as a production assistant. He loves his job.

My other son, wanted to do more in the form of leadership and development. His passion is all around criminology and law. He found his passion and we worked to ensure that all of his activities were in this area of interest. He went abroad with his law and justice program; he went to DC to the Supreme Court; participating in the Chick-Fil-A Leadership Academy; and state officer for SkillsUSA. Now, he wants to attend college and major in criminology.

What I have learned is to listen to your kids and let them express their passions and interests. God gave all of us a talent and as parents it is our job to understand how to help them use them, so they can work in those areas. We spend too much time at work and we should capitalize off of the 80% of our gifts for any job and let the 20% be our learning opportunities.

3. What were some creative ideas you employed to prepare them for adult life?

As my children were growing up, I began to look at each stage of their development. It was important for me to always prepare them for the next stage in life. So, I began with getting them ready for driving. Starting at the age of 14, when we would travel, we would work on the directions to the destinations together. I wanted them to understand how to get from one point to another and about geography. We would watch other drivers and discuss what was good and bad. On trips, they began to understand how much it can take out of you when you drive for a long time. This was important, so they got it when we said, you must have rest and be fully aware when you drive.

At age 15, the children began to wash their own clothes. I wanted them to get in the habit of once a week preparing for the next week. They began to understand the importance of sorting and how to do laundry. My goal was to give them 3 years before leaving for college and it would be habit they didn’t have to think about.

Once my children got their license, life began to change. They would do the grocery shopping in the house. There were many reasons for this activity. I wanted them to understand the differences in brands, cost and quality. There were certain things that we are willing to pay for quality (toilet paper) and want certain brands. When I gave them a list and they didn’t follow it, they had to go back to the store and return it.  Yes, they didn’t like it, but this helped them to understand responsibility, not to be lazy and to follow instructions.

At the age of 16, they also started paying bills with me. We do our bills electronically.  So, once a week, they would sit down and watch me pay bills and record pay checks.  As life happens, they got real lessons. What do you do when the car breaks down and you don’t have enough money to fix it? What happens when things come up and you have bills that must be paid and you can’t pay both of them? I could create these scenarios and then help them with resolutions once we discussed it.

4. Looking back, what is the one item you would do differently?

I would have paid more attention to how my younger son was really watching his older brother. He tried to emulate him at the beginning.  It took me a minute to realize what he was doing. Once I did, I sat him down and told him that he is his own person and can be and do anything that he wants to do. It is ok. I would have done this sooner.

5. What’s the single piece of advice you’d share with parents or teachers?

God gave all us a talent. Please stress the positive sides of these talents to each student. In areas where they need improvement, it is ok to work on them. But, if we spend the majority of our time on the negative side, the children will not know or appreciate the positive gifts given to them.

Thanks Vicki for equipping your sons for life, and for sharing it with us.

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  1. Pamela Muller on October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Wonderful tips! I was in tears after reading the first part about how much sons love their mothers! My son is 4. I absolutely am paying attention to Vicki’s advice. Thank you! Also, Vicki’s advice to accentuate the positive rings true for me. Just this morning I was commenting on my blog ( about the importance of talking to children about their sweet dreams along with their nightmares. We tend to focus on the negative stuff because it seems more urgent, but the sweet stuff is so much more lasting!

    • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks for your comment Pamela. I am glad you were touched by Vicki’s words, she is a very special friend!

  2. Rosie on October 11, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I love her ideas! I especially like that she started training her kids to be drivers at a young age,

    • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks for the comment Rosie!

  3. Melody Leow on October 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you Vicki for that wonderful advice! I love how you did some forward thinking and prepared your boys for adulthood. May God bless you in your parenthood!

    • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks for your comment Melody, Vicki is a special lady and I am happy to hear you are encouraged by her words.

  4. Matt Palka on October 12, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful advice! I recognize it from my own parents. They greatly encourage me in my talents, interests, and passions and balance responsibility and autonomy. It is so easy for them to say no to new opportunities for me, but they really focus on saying yes most often and guiding me while I live the life I want to. That’s how I became a two term state officer for NY and how I continue to stay involved with its purpose to promote personal growth and leadership development.

    • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Matt, sounds like you have great parents who have mastered the concept of “support and let go”. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  5. charlene.fonseca on October 14, 2013 at 8:04 am

    A mother’s heart is at work here. Thanks for sharing, as it reminds me of some things I can still do for mine who has graduated college recently. Our role of support changes, but it never really leaves.

    • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      I am happy to hear that. Thanks!

  6. Rachel on October 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I love to see parents that do similar things as my parents did with my brothers and I. I’m thankful that parents still exist who want their children to be real, independent adults in this technology driven world. Good points!

    • Tim Elmore on October 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Rachel! So great to hear about your parents.

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An Interview: Creative Mothers and Sons