“Mom I’m going to start a five billion dollar company.” Uh huh, did you finish your homework?!

Mark Zuckerberg’s parents are never going to hear the end of it are they? I know.  I have children the same age. Here is a kid they probably couldn’t trust to remember to feed the dog. I’m sure they could never get him out of his room or away from his computer.  Were they worried about his future? Did they think he’d never amount to anything? Now, the kid is worth billions. This week his company announced it is going public. It makes getting him to unload the dishwasher seem not so important after all.

Kids have a way of surprising you. I know mine did. You can read all the books you want but it never prepares you, really. Every single time I thought I had it down, one of those kids changed up the rules. Every one of them is different. What works with one does not work for another, even in the same family.I recently read that parents are now asking Zuckerberg’s mother and father for advice on parenting. They are probably still scratching their heads themselves. If they are honest, they will just say “don’t ask us, that kid was just pure luck.” We all know what they must have said when he quit college. Can’t you just hear him now “but Steve Jobs never finished college and he got to start a company.” I’m sure they weren’t buying it.

Sometimes I think we get bogged down in our own lives and in our own worries and it is hard to take their dreams seriously. We have to remember that they were born in a very different time than we were. They can see so much further into the future than we can. They can see things we never dreamed of in the same way we saw things that our parents had never imagined. If our only dreams for them are a steady job with good health insurance we are selling them short. We can give our kids the best opportunities in the world but ultimately it is all up to them, and the grace of God. A little luck doesn’t hurt either. My advice to other parents is to do the best you can and then get out of their way.

I learned early on to let mine dream big. That is, after all, what they told us in those parenting books, to tell them they can do anything! Funny thing was, they actually went for it but not because of anything I said. I mean, who are we kidding? My kids were going to do what they were going to do regardless of me. It was my job to love them and give them a good start, period. Honestly, I envy them the courage it has taken to pursue dreams I never dared to imagine. I have learned not to doubt them when they tell me their latest plans. Who knows, one of them may someday start a billion dollar company. I bet even Mark Zuckerberg’s parents weren’t counting on that one!

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Karen Foley

About Karen Foley

Karen Foley, has successfully been writing her blog for the BDN since May 2011. By successful, she means a few people read it, and she has not been sued, stalked or fired since starting it.