Inside: History shows and research confirms that a mother’s role and influence is powerful! They can shape, encourage, and inspire their children to do and accomplish great things. Here are three influential mothers and how they are raising educated, talented, and service-oriented children.
If someone were to ask you who are the most powerful, influential people in the world—who would you name? Presidents? Celebrities? Business, Political or Religious leaders?
If you said, “Mothers,” go to the head of the class! You’re right!
Moms…you’re a major influencer when it comes to your kids. History shows that dedicated moms can have a powerful, lasting impact on their children. A mother’s role is powerful!
A Mother’s Role & Influence
Ever hear of Sarah Edwards? She was the wife of Jonathan Edwards, the fiery Congregationalist minister. She raised 11 children while her husband was preaching hell-fire-and-damnation. He became the “famous” person in the family, while Sarah was performing her motherly duties in the background.
It’s usually moms working diligently behind the scenes, unnoticed, and unheralded who do the most influential and powerful work.
Sarah valued each of her children’s individuality and intelligence. She wanted both her sons AND her daughters to be educated, to develop their talents, and give service to others.
She succeeded! Genealogical studies tracked down 1400 descendants of the Edwards family and found the following people nestled in the family tree:
- 13 college presidents
- 65 professors
- 100 lawyers
- Dean of an outstanding law school
- 30 judges
- 66 physicians
- Dean of a medical school
- 80 holders of public office
- 3 United States senators
- Mayors of 3 large cities
- Governors of 3 states
- Vice President of the United States
- Controller of the United States Treasury
- Countless numbers who were successful in business and the arts
All of the Edwards family succeeded in becoming educated, developing talents, and serving others. Only two of 1400 were considered “black sheep,” which testifies to the power of one woman who realized her influence as a mother.
If you’re a mom you know the sacrifice required to raise children who become productive adults.
I interviewed three amazing mothers who, like Sarah Edwards have sacrificed much for their children. All three will attest to the fact that parenting is an ongoing process—full of rewards and pitfalls.
Each mother emphasized something different with their children: one the importance of education; another the importance of developing talents, and another the value of service within the family. Their stories will inspire you and give you ideas as you raise your own children.
Meet Jenny Oaks Baker, Cami Hoopes, and Diana Mareth.
A Mother’s Role & Influence: Helping Children Develop Their Talents. Jenny Oaks Baker
Have you ever wondered why some kids develop their talents while others start but never finish? There are many reasons, but the ones who succeed usually receive help from mom.
Yup! Mothers are usually the catalyst behind their children’s successes. Kids practice because of their mothers, they take lessons because of their mothers, and they stick with it to the finish line because of their mothers.
What magical things did these mothers do?
In the beginning, they sat with their children while they practiced; took them to their lessons or games, supported them at recitals, dramas, sports, debate, etc., and encouraged and praised them every step of the way. All things that are necessary for talent achievement.
Grammy-nominated violinist Jenny Oaks Baker of Salt Lake City, Utah had a mother who sat with her while she practiced the violin and encouraged her when it got tough.
This simple act of “mother presence” kept Jenny dedicated to her music and turned her into one of America’s most accomplished classical violinists.
Because of her mother’s influence, Jenny graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and received her master’s degree from Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She has produced 14 albums and has performed all over the world. Her album, Wish Upon a Star: A Tribute to the Music of Walt Disney, earned her a nomination for the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Today, Jenny is raising four musically talented children of her own. How has she inspired and helped her own children? Doing the same things her mother did for her. Here are 8 ideas she suggests parents do to help their children develop their talents.
8 Ways to Develop Your Child’s Talents
Observe your child’s gifts whether it is in music, sports, arts, drama, math, etc. Seek out the best teachers or coaches that can help him/her. Jenny recognized her children’s musical talents at a young age and signed them up for lessons. Likewise, she knows the value of a good teacher in helping a child stick with his/her lessons. She researched the best teachers in her area and those were the people she hired to teach her children.
#2 Be involved
Be personally involved with your child’s budding talent. If it’s music, sit with them while they practice. If it’s sports, stay, watch, and observe their practice or game. Whatever it is, be involved and be genuinely interested.
Make practicing mandatory. Jenny’s rule: practicing is hard and it comes before anything else. It requires mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual energy. It has to be done before homework or play.
Find out what motivates your child and use that as an incentive. Jenny’s mother and her teacher used competitions as incentives because she loved performing.
Along with competitions, create performance opportunities at home, school or church. Jenny’s mother invited kids from the neighborhood to hear her play and served cookies and milk. On a more exotic scale, Jenny’s children perform with her at concerts all over the world. It’s a huge motivator!
Think of ways you can encourage your child. When developing talent, there will always be “bumpy” times where they will need to know that you are there to help, boost and reassure them.
#7 Make family relationships paramount
Prioritize family relationships. It’s important to help your child develop their talents, but family comes first. For Jenny, it’s always her children before music. It’s always her husband before music. These relationships are the most important and always trump everything else.
#8: Values Learned
When children develop their talents, important values are learned such as:
- Perseverance and Hard Work. Developing talent is not easy. It requires hard work and hours of practice. The result: kids who know and understand the value of doing something difficult
- Confidence. This is a skill that will benefit your children for life. Confident kids are successful kids. The Baker children are at ease in any situation. They can get up in front of large audiences and speak with confidence and poise. The confidence they radiate is a direct result of their skills as musicians.
- Teamwork Skills. Being able to work with others is an important skill for the 21st The Baker children each play different instruments: Laura plays the violin, Sarah plays piano, Hannah plays the cello and Matthew plays guitar. They also have beautiful voices and know that the only way to create their stunning sound is by working together.
- Brain-Power. Research indicates that developing talents increases intellect; especially when learning a musical instrument. The Baker children are all straight-A students and Jenny credits it to their involvement with music.
Jenny concludes, “I owe a lot to my mother. She didn’t encourage me so that she would have a famous daughter. It was about her love for me. She felt my talent was a gift from God and my responsibility was to work hard and to use my gift to draw people to God. I’m teaching my children the same thing. My mother’s influence has been key to how I’ve used this gift.”
A Mother’s Role & Influence: Teaching Children How to Serve. Cami Hoopes
Cami Hoopes of Torrance, California is the mother of Cassidy, Julianna, Bella, and Cosette. They’re beautiful, talented girls and each of them understands the importance of service.
How did they learn this? From their mother. Cami has taught her daughters some simple truths about service that we often forget.
- Never convenient
- Never easy
- Starts in the home
- And is what fills the world with better human beings.
Despite that three of her four daughters have either physical or mental challenges, Cami found time to teach them about service.
Her oldest daughter, Cassidy suffers from severe digestive issues that demand a strict diet.
Cosette was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma, a benign brain tumor at age 5. It took 30 treatments of radiation to kill the tumor but it also destroyed her pituitary gland, compromised her thyroid, and left her with a loss of peripheral vision. She’s been on daily medications and shots every day since she was 5-years old.
Bella was born with Downs syndrome. At 4 ½ months old, she had open heart surgery to repair holes in her heart. She also has ADHD and celiac disease. Like many DS children, she has speech and learning issues. Recently, she had two hip replacement surgeries.
Instead of looking at these challenges as burdens, Cami and Tim have used them to teach their children about serving one another.
Here’s Cami’s advice to parents who want to teach their children about service.
3 Ways to Teach Your Child to Serve
#1: Service Starts in the Home…
Teach your children to help and support each other. If you want them to be close, they need to serve one another.
Bella had difficulties with speech and language so the sisters all learned American Sign Language so they could communicate with her.
Cassidy and Bella have to be on a special gluten-free diet, so all the siblings agreed it would easier if the whole family went on the diet together.
When Bella was little she was a flight risk making it difficult for the family to go on vacations. Their priority was to keep her safe so they stuck close to home and created fun activities. The focus of vacations was not visiting exotic places; it was being together as a family.
#2: Serve with Compassion…
All children need the compassion of family members; particularly special needs kids. When siblings are supportive of the needs of a brother or sister, something magical happens… they spread this kindness to people beyond the family circle. They are concerned about and want to help others. This simple act can have a powerful impact on neighborhoods, schools, and communities.
The sisters’ involvement with raising Bella has taught them to be more compassionate, tender-hearted, and accepting of others. They are the first to reach out to the child on the playground who is all alone or ostracized by their peers. They are the first to help the child being bullied at school. And they are the first to volunteer to give service both at school and church functions.
#3: Serve by Helping Others to Reach Their Potential…
Even if your children have mental or physical challenges, help them make goals, develop talents, and reach their potential…with the support of family.
The Hoopes girls support each other with homework and have helped each other to excel in sports, dance, and music.
Despite having DS, Bella has developed talents because of strong family support. She loves music and her sisters taught her how to download selections to her iPod and to work the computer. She writes songs in her notebooks. She understands how to use google and can now work all the electronics in the house better than anyone.
Everyone has challenges. But what turns challenges into strengths is our attitude towards them. For the Hoopes, their challenges have become blessings because of the service they give to one another.
Cami says, “The physical challenges that Cassidy and Cosette face have taught our family about healthy eating.
Bella has shaped and changed all of us. I came from a family that emphasized perfection and God gave me Bella to help me accept and find beauty in imperfection. Our life with Bella is not worse–it’s different. Because of Bella, we’re more complete human beings. She’s helped us to be optimistic when surrounded by difficulties.
And it’s the challenges we’ve faced that have taught us how to serve and cherish one another.”
A Mother’s Role & Influence: Making Education a Priority. Diana Mareth
Diana Mareth of Austin, Texas is the mother of five children. Education has always been a top priority in the Mareth household. Diana was a college instructor (taught English) and her husband a professor (math and computer science). They wanted all their children to graduate from college.
Diana says, “We didn’t just want our kids to be college graduates, we wanted them to love learning. Every activity that we did with our kids centered around learning new and different things that would enrich their lives.” Click & Tweet!
Here are Diana’s “Top 12” suggestions for instilling within your children a love of learning and education
12 Ways to Teach Your Children the Importance of Education
#1 Read Aloud
Start reading to your children at an early age. Include a variety of books such as science, math, nature, fiction, and fairy tales. As they get older, discuss the books you are reading. Asking them “why,” “how,” and “what next,” fosters critical thinking skills.
#2 Educational Gifts
For Christmas make one of the gifts educational. One of their sons expressed an interest in medicine so they purchased medical charts to hang in his room. He later became a medical doctor.
Purchase blocks, Legos, Lincoln logs, Magna-Tiles for your children to create things. Diana had a difficult time finding wooden blocks so her husband cut, stained and made a large set of blocks for their kids. One of their sons loved creating things with these blocks and toys. He later earned his master’s degree in engineering
Play board and math games with your kids and put together jigsaw puzzles.
Provide private music lessons. Kids involved with music lessons do better in school. Their kids learned piano, organ, French horn, guitar and oboe and were members of the school band.
#6 Educational Support & a Love for Learning New Things
Support your kids in all their school activities as well as their homework. If they need help—be that person who helps them. As you do this, you will instill within them a love for learning new things.
#7 Education Field Trips
Go on education field trips as a family. If there is something your kids are interested in, visit places that support their interests thereby making learning come alive. One of their sons was interested in flying and airplanes so they took him to the Air Force Academy museum in Colorado. Another son was interested in Texas independence so they took him to historical places in Texas.
#8 Scouting programs
Girl and Boy Scout programs are wonderful to teach your children about many different subjects. And earning merit badges teaches them patience and tenacity—qualities they will need in college.
#9 Own pets
Kids need pets. It’s an educational experience. It teaches them caring for something, ownership and being responsible—all qualities needed for success in college.
Monitor the amount of time your kids spend on television, computers, cellphones, iPads—all of it. These devices do not make kids smarter—they dumb down their intellect and creativity.
#11 Education Conversations
Talk to your kids about education. Make it a part of your conversation with them. Let them know that higher education is a priority and something that will benefit them their entire lives.
#12 College Savings
Let your children know you are saving for their college education and that it’s important to do their best in school. Diana and Bill set-up an education account for each child. Their paternal grandparents also contributed to. This spoke volumes to their kids—both parents and grandparents supported their education.
Prioritizing Education Pays Off
If you take these suggestions to heart, your children will grow up knowing that education is important and will work towards that goal. Your children will not only graduate from college but will then pass the legacy forward and teach the same lessons to your grandchildren.
Diana and Bill’s involvement paid off. All five of their children were one of the top 10 students in their high school graduating classes. All five are college graduates. Their oldest daughter, Teresa graduated magna cum laude with a degree in math, David is a medical doctor, Jared and Brett have master’s degrees; one in accounting and finance, and one in chemical engineering. And Heidi has a degree in history with a teaching certification. And all of their children are now teaching the value of education to their children.
Diana concludes: “While raising our kids, I went back to college for my master’s degree. I wanted them to understand that learning is an ongoing lifelong pursuit. And that it’s an important way to bring happiness, creativity, and joy into their lives.” Click & Tweet!
A Mother’s Role as Powerful Influencers
As a mother, you are a powerful influencer. You can shape and mold your children and help them to develop their talents; teach them to serve and emphasize the importance of education.