Jensen-Coon: Raising Success

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By Kelcy Jensen-

Success is an interesting term to define. It seems to mean something different to everyone, and having a personal definition of success is crucial to feeling fulfilled. When success becomes individualistic, we find more life satisfaction because we work toward what is important to us and us alone. How do we gain our own definition of success? Like everything else in this world, media and politics have substantial influences on how success is perceived and recognized and are likely contributors to people’s ideas of what it means to be successful. To me, true success lies in family relationships and raising good children.

Though people have claimed the definition of success has changed over time, traditional views of success are still infiltrating our belief systems. Strayer University conducted a survey to determine how people felt about success and 90 percent of respondents felt it was about more than power, money and fame. However, any type of self-report or survey could be greatly skewed when it surrounds this topic due to the hindsight bias that says we have a tendency to think what is in the past is predictable — it could be easy to see what should be most important after you have already made sacrifices to become successful.

Many of us want to believe success is something more than the typical answers that even the dictionary gives us: a person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth, etc. How deep do these desires and outward expressions of what we want success to look like actually go?

In the past few years, there has been more focus put on women’s rights. Equal pay for women has been one of the main focuses in advancing these rights. It has been all over the news, and protests have taken place over this important issue. This shows where our true attention lies when it comes to success.

Do not think that I am against women’s rights and equal pay. I am a supporter of these viewpoints. However, it does intrigue me that this is how we plan to make women more successful. Why are pay and the workplace what we value so much these days? I have noticed an increase in focus on how to improve work environments or how to create equal opportunity in the workplace, but it seems like there’s less on how to make home life better.

In a Business Insider article by Shana Lebowitz titled “12 Rich, Powerful People Share their Surprising Definitions of Success,” she gives examples of how these influential people define success. Warren Buffet said, “I measure success by how many people love me.” This is a good rule of thumb and a sound philosophy. Many of these well-recognized people said their relationships and life satisfaction were more important when measuring success than wealth and power.

It makes me wonder why this is not more of a focus in the media, in our protests and in our own daily lives. I have no doubt people love their families, but we have forgotten to make them the most important thing. Why are we not fighting harder for more maternal and fraternal leave when a new baby is brought into a family? This is a difficult time for parents to adjust and an important time for the new baby, yet there is no government policy enforcing some kind of leave.

Finland allows for seven weeks paid time off before the due date and another 16 weeks of paid time off after the birth of the baby. Demark and other European countries also have helpful laws for new moms and dads. There are only four countries in the world that do not have federally mandated policies for paid time off when a baby is born, and the United States is one of them. We need strong families to find success, and it begins with each child.

In a longitudinal study done on kids ranging from 9 to 17 years old, researchers found the biggest predictor of a successful kid was a satisfying home life. The highest scores of satisfaction were found in families that had two biological parents in the home where positive relationships were fostered. There was no significance regarding socioeconomic status having a correlation with positive family relationships. Over time, these kids showed better social relationships outside of their families, better academic performance and better self-concept.

Happy families are success. If we do not have success raising capable thriving adults, then the world lacks success because good people are what makes the world go round. If we want success and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, children are the perfect way to do that regardless of whether they are your own or not. They are the greatest investment in the future. Bill Gates said this when reflecting on dedicating yourself to something bigger: “It is also nice to feel like you made a difference — inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need.”

The families of America are in need. We have increased rates of suicide, more access to harmful substances and more distractions from the important things than ever before. Having a baby is an incredible feat that takes a lot of work, possibly bringing on postpartum depression. Yet, no one seems to be aware of those difficulties enough to fight harder over them. If we want to focus on women’s rights, why don’t we also include and protect the most miraculous product of a woman’s body — babies and the raising of those babies. I propose we go back to the basics and remember the heart of what makes a successful life: happy children who grow up in happy families to become happy, responsible adults.

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@TheChrony