MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION
By Deion Sanders with Tejado W. Hanchell, Ph. D
The recent tragedy in Newtown, CT has certainly shed a different light on this Christmas season. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who lost loved ones – especially to the parents of those 20 children who lost their lives before they ever really got started, and to the parents of children who lose their lives in cities across the country and around the world who never make it into the media spotlight. While most of us usually spend these last few days before Christmas trying to catch a sale or find the perfect gift for our children, tragedies like this remind us that our children ARE the perfect gift. Children truly are the greatest gift that we could ever receive, and the greatest gift that we can give them is to be the best parents that we can be. (Somebody shout Amen!)
I’ve always considered parenting to be my number one job. I didn’t say two, three or four, I said number ONE. NOTHING is more important than being a parent! I made a decision early on that I didn’t want to be a success on the field and a failure at home. People were screaming my name at the stadium for a big play – an interception, punt return or a HOMERUN – but my kids were screaming for me to RUN HOME. My children had to come first. Now, that doesn’t mean I was perfect or am perfect, but being perfect isn’t a part of the job description for a parent. The main thing is just to show up every day. Your kids aren’t looking for a PERFECT parent…they’re looking for a PRESENT parent. SELAH! (Google it… you’ll understand.)
As a father (not a Baby Daddy, but a father), I always wanted to make sure I was present in my kids’ lives, because I didn’t have that consistently growing up. That’s why I spend so much time working with our TRUTH Dads and mentoring young men because I know how important it is to have a father or father-figure in the life of a child. That doesn’t take anything away from the strong, courageous, and heroic single mothers out there who are holding it down. I know they’re out there because I was raised by one! My mama took care of our family, worked every day, sacrificed, and showed me what it means to be a parent. She sacrificed buying nice clothes for herself so that I could be best-dressed at school. To this day, she is STILL raising kids and is a big part of what we do in the TRUTH organization. She has raised over 10 foster kids, and is now raising two beautiful 7 year-old twins, Heaven and Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards) who all live with me. My mother is the epitome of what I like to call a “Prime Time Parent.”
There are three keys you need to know in order to be a Prime Time Parent:
Your kids have to be “prime” in your life. Webster defines prime as ‘of the first importance, demanding the fullest consideration.’ As a Prime Time Parent…your kids demand your fullest consideration and attention. Even if you have to work a SECOND job…your kids need to know they’re still FIRST. I know a thing or two about working two jobs. I played professional baseball AND football for most of my career, but I had to let my son know he was more important than sports and my daughter know she was more precious than a diamond. Even now, as I handle my duties with the NFL Network, our TRUTH organization, Prime Prep Academy, and the responsibilities of my endorsements…my kids are intricately involved in my daily activities. As a Prime Time Parent…I have to put my kids first.
The second key to being a Prime Time Parent is actually spending time with your kids. I’m gonna say that real slow…YOU…HAVE…TO…SPEND…TIME…WITH…YOUR…KIDS! Kids won’t KNOW that they are first in your life if you don’t SHOW them they are first in your life. The way you show that is with quality time. Stop what you’re doing, put down the remote, take a day off from work, do whatever you have to do to spend some time with those kids because time is the one thing you can never get back. I know you’re saying #HOP – I can’t afford to take a day off from work, but at least take them to dinner. Listen to them. Get to know them. Men, do you know what size clothes your kids wear? What size shoes they wear? What are their favorite foods, drinks, television shows, or even their favorite color? I do ALL the shopping and providing for my babies. I help them with homework and take them to school. The one thing that challenges me is my baby girl’s hair because Prime can’t braid (LOL)! Make it a point to give each of your kids some special alone time with you as often as possible. Make them feel special (even if you don’t). Spend time with them. The more time you SPEND…the more heartache you’ll SAVE. You can’t be a Prime Time Parent if you don’t spend time with your kids.
The last key to being a Prime Time Parent is to actually be your kids’ parent. You are not their friend, their buddy, their road dog, homie, or follower. A lot of parents acting like followers on Twitter with their kids. I see too many parents mess up trying to buddy up with their kids. Be the parent. That means you will sometimes have to make some tough decisions that your kids will not like. That’s fine. Those children are your responsibility. You’re in charge…not them. Your kid didn’t choose to have a parent. You chose to have a child. BE the parent! You are your child’s number one role model. Don’t just be a model playing a role.
And to all the single parents out there. Remember that SINGLE parent does not mean SOLO parent. Don’t try to do everything all by yourself. It takes a village to raise a child. Use the people that God placed around you to help shape your kids, but that doesn’t mean you trust everybody with your kids. My mother put me in sports, which taught me discipline and got me around some positive father-figures in my life. Use what you’ve got!
And finally, remember to hug and kiss your children every day. Look them in the eye and TELL them that you love them. As Newtown taught us, you never know which day could be your last with them. So treat your children like the precious gifts that they are. That’s what being a Primetime Parent is all about.