By Oliver DeMille
This may seem obvious, but sometimes the most obvious things go ignored.
Where we live, we’ve been experiencing record-breaking high temperatures.
The lawns and the swamp coolers in our region have been struggling to cope.
A report on the local news reminded us that it is very important to drink enough water.
After hearing this ridiculously obvious point, I shook my head and laughed.
“It’s amazing how the small things make all the difference,” I told my daughter Sara.
I tried to think of how much water I’d had today, but I couldn’t remember drinking any.
I quickly went to the kitchen and drank a big glass of water.
The Parenting Conveyor Belt
I was reading the latest issue of Psychology Today when this recommendation to drink lots of water caught my attention, and I had just finished an interesting article on parenting.
One phrase really stuck with me.
The article mentioned that too often parenting literature “puts parents on a treadmill…”
That sounds a lot like the conveyor belt.
But a treadmill (as described in Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad) keeps people busy, busy, busy without getting anywhere.
Too many parents fall into this trap.
It’s a rat race, as Kiyosaki called it.
Simple, not Complex
If we read classics every day, even a little, it’s amazing how manageable it is to get off this treadmill and educate nearly all kids—just like drinking enough water makes a huge difference in how people deal with the heat.
If we forget to drink enough—for whatever reason—the heat can really become a problem.
Likewise, if we stop reading from the classics every single day—for any reason—it’s remarkable how quickly parenting, family issues, and educating the kids can start to feel overwhelming, beyond us, just too hard.
But with enough water and classics, the symptoms of being overheated or overwhelmed as parents can rapidly go away.
Great education really is “Simple, not Complex.”
It takes consistency, but those who read the classics daily are nearly always positive, enthusiastic, and up to the task.
In fact, this is so prevalent that I learned many years ago that anyone who feels like providing a truly quality education for their kids is really difficult is probably not reading the classics every day.
Are You Reading Enough?
Numerous times I’ve been asked something along the lines of, “Okay, I understand how TJEd and Leadership Education are supposed to work, but what do you do when (some really difficult family or education situation)?”
I learned to respond immediately, “What are the last four classics you’ve read in the past few months?”
I found that well over 9 out of 10 respondents weren’t really reading the classics.
And of the few who were, almost none of them were also reading classics aloud with the kids they had concerns about.
They wanted to provide great education, but they forgot to do the most basic thing.
In short, if we don’t read classics, it’s pretty hard to be an excellent educator-parent—just like it’s tough to deal with the heat if we don’t drink much, or any, water.
If this seems too simple, don’t bash it until you give it a try.
Reading classics has an incredible power to boost our enthusiasm and parenting skills.
I don’t know exactly why this happens, but it does.
Those who don’t do it are frequently concerned about how to really do leadership education, and often insecure about many of their parenting choices.
Those who read the classics daily have fewer struggles.
They nearly always feel more secure, less overwhelmed, and more enthusiastic.
This is real.
So Pull Out Your Next Top Five!
This one choice (to read from the classics every day) gets parents off the treadmill and out of the parenting rat race.
So get out those three or five top books you’ve been meaning to read, and get to work.
Don’t read them one at a time—just structure a time to read and then read whatever is interesting to you each day.
The impact on your parenting and family will be noticeable, immediate, and lasting.
And it might help to drink lots of water while you’re at it.
Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd. He is the NY Times Bestselling co-author of LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through Leadership Education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.