Monday, June 29, 2009

What We Give Our Kids

So what's our biggest goal as parents?

Tough question. Obviously, the answer will be different for every parent, but one answer that sticks out for me is to raise my kids so that they don't need me anymore. That's what we're all striving for, isn't it? To raise our kids so that they'll be capable, happy adults?

To that end, here are some of the things I want to give my kids:

--the strength to do the right thing, even when it's hard

--the ability to know what the right thing is

--the stamina to be respectful, contributing members of society

--the courage to pursue that which fulfills them

--enough experience in life to learn what their passions are

--enough knowledge to be able to pursue those passions

--the respect to figure these things out for themselves

--and lastly, (and most importantly?) the ability to think for themselves

There are surely others, which I'm sure I'll think of five minutes after I post this.

You'll notice that there are some glaring omissions from this list, that many of you will be surprised to see, especially since we homeschool.

Here are some things that I'm not overly concerned with (but if they happen, that'll be okay too):

--my kids' being the "best" at something, whether it's winning first place in a national competition or beating their friends in a neighborhood game of soccer (having them be pleased with their performance is good enough for me)

--my kids' entering a career that's financially lucrative (I'd love them to be financially prosperous throughout their lives, but not at the expense of their happiness - I'd rather them be poor and fulfilled than rich and miserable)

--my kids' getting into the "best college" (yes, they'll all go to college and hopefully graduate school, but the more research I do the more I realize that the particular undergrad school has little to do with success throughout life)

--my kids' being formally recognized as academically "gifted," whether through such a program as Duke's Talent Identification Program or as a National Merit Scholar (sure, those would be great, but they're not necessary - who will recognize my youngest child's giftedness in humor, my daughter's giftedness in connecting with young children and elderly adults, or my oldest son's giftedness at memorizing vast amounts of trivia? Do those gifts merit any less admiration?)

--my kids' following the normal path (whatever path is the one that will take them where they want to go ... that's the one they should follow)

--my kids' "fitting in" (I'd rather they be comfortable in their own skin, value their unique characteristics, and laugh every day)

More than anything, I want my children to approach every day with joy, live a life of fulfillment, and have a packed house at their funerals.

image of purple passion by PinkMookse from here, image of "think go live be" by southerntabitha from here


  1. Aaaah. Lovely.

    But first, I need to be all these things myself. There're one or two, that require significant work, and I am still such an "In Progress" work!

    You somehow put my thoughts on "paper" and give me a parenting manual I already believe in!! Thank you.

  2. Like your list. And your omissions. I'm fine with all of them except the "fitting in" part, meaning that I agree with you but it's still something I do tend to worry about. Of course, at the moment I just want my daughters to make it to adulthood without my killing them over their near-constant bickering today. :-)

  3. You've just about brought me to tears. How do you always seem to know how I feel about these things? And then express them better than I ever could. Thank you.