A Thank You to Mom and Dad: What Two Sons Learned About Raising Successful Kids

Two brothers come together to reflect on their upbringing and discuss the impact ‘Mom and Dad’ had on their success. By Joshua and Justin Lafazan.

Woodbury, NY, May 11, 2015 (Newswire) — ​​​​​Your parents don’t decide your fate, but they certainly do contribute to it. There’s a reason that when a person achieves notoriety in a particular field, the media moves swiftly to report on their upbringing. It is for this same reason that when those around us point out our most significant accomplishments, we are quick to reference our parents.

This op-ed is co-written by Joshua Lafazan and Justin Lafazan. We wanted to say thank you to our parents for their many years of sacrifice and devotion. Additionally, we wanted to share the knowledge instilled in us from our Mom and Dad with parents raising children today. We figured this op-ed was a way to do both.

Joshua Lafazan is one of the youngest elected officials in the history of New York State. Garnering 82% of the vote in May of 2012, he rose to office while still a senior in high school. Joshua continues to make community service a priority in his life; he’s a volunteer firefighter, the founder of Safe Ride Syosset, and serves on the boards of several non-profits and government agencies. He’s also a junior at the Cornell University ILR School, and 21 years old.

Justin Lafazan founded and operates two multinational consulting agencies, Students4Students College Advisory and Millennial Marketing Strategy. He is the organizer behind the Next Gen Summit, a forthcoming author on youth entrepreneurship, and an acclaimed TEDx speaker, covering collaborative management, millennial entrepreneurship, and education reform. Justin is 18 years old, and a gap-year student at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Our younger brother Aaron, 14, is poised to make his impact felt on the world as well in the coming years.

On paper, we crossed off every item on the checklist: Ivy Leaguers, thought-leaders in business and politics, and some good ole’ well rounded kids.

And as we’ve entered adulthood, we realize that we had the least to do with it. We had the most unfair advantage of them all: incredible parents.

Our parents are far from perfect, and our family is still learning how to best support one another. But the principles our parents taught us have remained constant throughout our short lives — leadership, integrity, curiosity, and courage. ​

1. Our parents let us fail. It takes immeasurable trust in long-term vision to let your kids fail. In 8th grade, Joshua was in the bottom 25% of his middle school graduating class. Desiring to one day attend Duke University, our father boisterously joked that he would only make it to Durham mopping floors. For years straight, Justin’s teachers called his potential “wasted,” as he ignored assignments, homework, and the rules of the classroom. Teachers pleaded with our parents to enforce stricter rules on Justin to ensure he did his work, but our parents wanted Justin to realize it on his own. We procured an insatiable work ethic by learning from our failures, and for that, it was sustainable and not ephemeral and artificial.

Nevertheless, our parents never let us fail when there were lasting repercussions at stake. When dealing with crucial decisions during Joshua’s campaign, or Justin’s organizational structure, the hands-on approach replaced the laissez-faire attitude.

Bottom-line: Allow your kids to fail, if the learning opportunity won’t damage them long-term.

2. “Stay in your own lane.” The easiest thing as a parent is to allow your children to maintain the status quo — to simply copy that of what their peers are doing. When Justin decided to put off college to start his companies, or when Joshua decided to not wait for a college degree to run for office, there were — and still are — skeptics and disbelievers. However, our parents taught us to focus on ourselves, and not compare our trajectories to those of others. They helped us clarify our goals, and develop our sense of confidence to thrive in the hyper-competitive environments we contend in. They helped us leverage our differences to succeed.

They illustrated for us the inevitable criticism that comes along with disrupting the norm; many try to persuade you to conform, but you must have the courage to maintain your current course of action. Focus on yourself, and ‘run your race.’

Bottom line: Show your kids that they should strive to be different, and not take the conservative route of conformity. In the words of our dad, “Be the leader of the pack — never be part of the herd.”

3. Raise each kid with a unique style. It is easy to develop a comfortable parenting style, and after measurable success with one child, duplicate it with another. But each child is different, and requires an altered parenting approach. Joshua is the oldest, and as he is playing in a world full of adults, needs the advisement that can only come from past life experiences. Justin does not respond well to any sort of micromanagement, but needs help crafting his long-term vision of success during his exploration.

Through open and honest dialogue, our parents discovered and learned about our goals, needs, wants, curiosities, interests, passions, and so much more. They applied that information to be the best parents possible for each different kid, and NEVER compared us to one another.

Bottom line: Each child is different, and will require a unique approach of parenting to maximize their full potential.

4. Don’t let barriers slow you down. Our parents unequivocally raised a batch of rabble rousers. Unhappy with the lack of transparency and openness in Syosset, Joshua took on an old guard of board members and an entrenched administration, and never wavered in his quest for change. Justin wanted to “play with the big boys,” build international businesses, and consult with acclaimed organizations and entrepreneurs, even before he graduated high school. Neither of us let age get in the way, and we continue to chart unique courses that have seldom been traveled.

There are a myriad of barriers in life, from age to gender to socioeconomic status and so much more. Our parents taught us to run into our barriers, as opposed to running away from them. If you’re young, and want to make change, USE your youth — don’t hide it.

Bottom line: Nobody will hand you anything in life; if you want it bad enough, find a way to achieve it.

5. Family is everything. As we continue to grow, we inevitably begin to move apart — physically at least. Joshua is constantly traveling between his dorm at Cornell and his home in Syosset, and Justin goes away for 3 weeks at a time for a combination of speaking and consulting gigs. Nevertheless, as we grow older, we grow even closer. And it can undoubtedly be traced back to our upbringing. We enjoy spending time with each other, and want more of it. As adolescents, our parents made us say “I love you” to one another each night before bed, even if ‘I hate you’ was the line preceding it.

If there are problems within the family, do not ignore them. Our group of brothers fights constantly, but we know that there are no grudges held or ‘cold-shoulder’ tactics utilized. Though a wrestling match in the living room seemed like perfectly reasonable conflict resolution, our parents forced us to confront, rather than avoid, issues that arose.

Lesson: “The people in this room” are, and will always be, the most important. Value your time together; it is precious, and it is a gift.

We are so fortunate for the family time we are able to spend, and we are cognizant that it is the main contributing factor to our success.

Reflective thinking often arises from moments of sadness, loss, or transition. For us, we just figured it was time to say thanks — to our Mom and Dad. We love you.​


Originally published at www.newswire.com.

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