Heman Bekele is a 14-year-old boy who won First Prize in 3M’s Young Scientist’s Challenge for working to create an affordable soap that could treat skin cancer. Read more about him here…

As a young man, he wasn’t focused on being popular. He wasn’t on social media trying to get dozens of “likes.” Instead, he spent his time learning what he needed to know to make a difference helping people.

He had to have amazingly supportive parents.

Kids his age are adults-in-the-making. In a few years, they’ll be on their own, faced with dealing with the unpredictable challenges of life. As an adult, you know what I mean.

Almost every day, I look into the eyes of young people. What I see is radical naivete. They are born this way, and as they grow up they have so much to learn:

Knowledge. Schools are the most important sources of learning about the world.

Skills. Life skills. Relationship skills. Thinking skills. Schools help, but parents have the biggest opportunities to make a difference.

Character strengths. Honesty, integrity, patience, persistence, compassion, courage, and dozens more. Kids acquire character behavior patterns in the usual way: with coaching from their parents, they apply them repeatedly in their lives. Note: they can’t learn them looking at a cell phone screen.

Wisdom. Mostly, schools give them factual information. Wisdom is about the truth of being alive in the world and interacting with people; it has to do with understanding how best to apply what they learned. Parents and adult mentors share these insights during teachable moments, as a child learns from experience.

Values. Every acquires their own set of values. In a healthy family and in their community, kids pick up on what’s important in life.

It’s a lot. Some kids, like Heman, leave home further ahead than others. And you have the biggest role. Being a parent is all about preparing your child for life. There’s so much to it that It can seem daunting, but not if you think about supporting and reinforcing your child’s learning one lesson at a time. You become more adept at this as your child gets older. Each day that you’re able to see and take advantage of an opportunity, it’s a big win.

These two books will give you lots of ideas: