Q: I have a lot of big dreams. But sometimes I get almost paralyzed mentally and overwhelmed by the size of the things I want to accomplish in life. How can I keep my focus and momentum?
Jim: I recall a time I was watching a television broadcast of the U.S. Open -- one of professional golf's biggest tournaments. As leaders for the final day were teeing off to get their rounds underway, somebody asked golfer Paul Azinger what the players needed to focus on to play well and have a shot at winning. Azinger replied: "If you want to achieve big things, you have to dream small."
Paul Azinger knows a thing or two about achieving big dreams: He won 12 tournaments on the PGA Tour, including two championships, and has followed his active playing career by becoming a highly successful broadcast analyst. What he meant by "dream small" was that golfers need to play their game one shot at a time. If they get too far ahead of themselves, they'll lose focus on the shot right in front of them.
That's good advice no matter your profession. Baseball players take games one pitch at a time. For football players, it's one play at a time. In marriage and parenting, it's one day at a time, one decision at a time, one moment of connection at a time. You can wait for your marriage to be better "someday," or you can take action and make it better today. Go ahead and plan for your kids' future, but take advantage of opportunities to invest in their lives right now.
Whether it's winning a golf tournament, building a successful career or creating a marriage and family that thrives, if you want to achieve big things, you have to dream small.
Q: How can I help my son get ready for the physical, emotional and psychological changes that adolescence brings?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: I'm impressed that you want to be proactive in your son's life. There's a big difference between the kind of influence you're considering and a one-time sex education talk. As your son approaches puberty, it's helpful to talk about identity, healthy friendships and relationships, the amazing and important differences between male and female, the way his body is changing and why all these things are important.
Along with hormonal and sexual developments, there will be rapid growth of bone and muscle. As a result, an eighth-grade gym class may contain skinny boys with alto voices who are sharing a locker room with peers who are hairy and muscular --and may seem intimidating. Remind your son that whatever the particular timing may be in his case, the transition to his adult body will eventually be complete. He can't control the timing, but he can smooth the process by exercising, getting rest and eating well.
It's also important to talk to your son about his increasing interest in the opposite sex. This is an important time to review specific guidelines -- and some basic wisdom -- about relationships and the progressive nature of sexual interest and contact.
Ideally, you should plan on having a series of foundational conversations with your preteen son, perhaps at age nine, ten or eleven. Some parents plan a special weekend away from home in order to have undistracted, one-on-one time during which these discussions can take place. Others stretch them out over longer periods.
Focus on the Family has just released a new video-based resource that's specifically designed to help parents and kids work through these conversations during this exciting (and sometimes confusing and difficult) transition. It's called "Launch Into the Teen Years." You can find out more at FocusOnTheFamily.com/parenting.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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