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.
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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