[August 17, 2019] Several of my friends and I got together the other day to review some of the progress we’ve made on military veteran issues in the state of New Jersey. Unexpectedly, our conversation turned to our time in the U.S. Army (one in the U.S. Navy) and the quality of new officers. What we decided was that the main thing that predicted good leadership was how parents raised their kids.
Now, that might be a controversial topic but speak with any senior military officer, and they will tell you that a proper upbringing is one of the best predictors of success. Rarely does an officer step out of school and into a leadership position and succeed if they are from a terrible childhood. This is a sad fact but a fact nonetheless. And the military does not care; the senior leaders are only interested in good leadership, not how someone was raised.
Some people raise good kids that easily fit into military leadership positions. Others don’t do as well. The latter don’t succeed in other walks of life (a job, marriage, friends) without additional help. There are many exceptions, of course, but the vast majority of those raised poorly will perform poorly.
Parents are not the only variable that affects kids and how they succeed (or not) in the U.S. military. Once a child is about four or five years old, their peers have a tremendous influence on them. Anyone raising children should be placing young kids in an environment where they will find friends who are well behaved and liked by other kids and adults. Likability matters a great deal.
People who have not learned the importance of being liked as children grow up to be self-centered, overly aggressive, and subject to emotional outbursts. These traits are counterproductive in leaders and will push a military leader’s career off the cliff. How parents and other relatives raise good kids is the subject of much scientific research, parenting how-to books, and leadership studies.
There are many ways to raise a good kid. It is beyond the scope of this article to lay this out, but traditional ways of raising children have worked for thousands of years, and thus we should use those lessons for their value. In the notes section below, I linked to a short, valuable article on the subject.
NOTES: “7 Ways to Raise a Well-Rounded Kid”– https://www.parents.com/kids/development/social/raise-well-rounded-kids/