Create a Legacy - the Parent Plan

By Derek and Gail Randel

Imagine the following three scenarios…

Ron and Judy love their 26-year-old son Jim. Unfortunately, whenever Jim calls his parents, they cringe. "Will he ask for more money?" Judy asks. Ron replies, "What do you mean, if? The question is, how much this time?"

Linda visits her mother to ask for help cooking a dinner and baking a dessert. Linda's mother doesn't understand how Linda could be so incompetent in the kitchen. She thinks, "I always cooked and baked. How could she not have learned these skills?"

Tom's daughter is very overweight and she never exercises. "She is now 22 years-old and even though she never exercised, now that she is getting older she must begin," says Tom. "I never exercised because I always worked and didn't have time." Tom is also somewhat overweight.

All three of these sets of parents have a similar problem. Their grown children have not developed basic life skills. To avoid these problems with your own children, become proactive and develop a "Parent Plan."

A parent plan is a family blueprint, representing a vision of the values and skills you would like to instill in your children. Before you get started, consider the following questions:


Where would you like to see your children when they are 25 years old?

-Employed or unemployed?
-Living at home with you, or out on their own?
-Married, single or divorced?
-Paying their own debts or having you pay them?
-Taking responsibility for their own mistakes, or dependent upon others?


What legacy would you like to instill in your children?

It is crucial to teach children how to function effectively in the ever-changing real world. This means planning. A parent plan involves creating a positive environment where your children can learn desired values by your actions.

Valuable Life Skills

  • How to be independent

  • How to be a decision maker

  • How to be a motivated worker

  • How to handle finances

  • How to live a healthy life style

  • How to handle time management issues

  • How to be organized

  • How to live a balanced life

  • How to be healthy

  • How to develop a good self-concept

  • How to be resilient

  • How to communicate effectively

  • How to develop a mature character and integrity

  • How to set and respect boundaries

Tips for Instilling Values in Children

  • Model the behavior you would like your children to inherit

  • Provide choices to encourage decision-making skills

  • Have your children write the monthly checks. It will benefit them to learn how to write checks, and to understand monthly household expenses.

  • Help budget their homework time, including periodic rest breaks

  • Serve healthy meals

  • Verbalize your thought processes to provide your children with the opportunity to hear how you solve problems. Ask for their insight. Time management is an example of how to apply this principle. Let's say you have an appointment somewhere at 9:00. Work backwards from this time. Explain to your child that it is a 30-minute ride; a stop at the drug store will take 10 minutes, and it will take will 15 minutes for you to get ready. What time should you start getting ready?

  • Explain why you use certain stores. Why do you patronize your bank,
    or a particular dry cleaner or grocery store? For example, you might say you like the service you receive at this bank, or the lack of service you received elsewhere caused you to change banks.

  • Set your limits and boundaries.

  • Encourage your children to plan a meal or prepare a dessert once a week.

Going back to our three sets of parents in the introduction to this article, let's consider how they may have done things differently. Perhaps Ron and Judy never talked about finances with Jim when he was younger. Jim may have never had control over his allowance or his own money. In many homes, finances are never discussed. Therefore, Jim may have never learned about expenses or budgeting.

Even though Linda's mother could cook and bake, we wonder if she ever took the time to teach Linda how to cook. Or perhaps she was critical every time Linda helped out in the kitchen. Do not expect traits to be picked up by observation alone. We need to take the time to teach.

Tom had a poor excuse for not exercising, and never modeled the behavior he desired for his daughter. Where did he think she would learn to live a healthy lifestyle?

A parent plan is crucial for preparing your child for the real world. What do you want to pass along to your children? What would you like your children to say about your parenting when they are 25 years old? The time to be setting goals and implementing your plan is now, while your children are still young.

Derek and Gail Randel have customized programs for corporations, schools, and parent groups for putting the fun back into parenting so you can enjoy your children. They also have a free parenting newsletter through their web site, and a parent consulting service. The Randels are the authors of The Parent Manual and Bittersweet Moments. They can be reached at Parent Smart from the Heart 1-866-89-SMART, or

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