I get so caught up in the day-to-day tasks of raising kids (Don’t punch your brother! Make your bed! Go to the bathroom!) that I lose sight of the long-term goals I’m working towards. This list is meant to remind me of what my broader purpose is in raising my children, if only to make me think twice before I pick up all their toys for them or don’t let them climb a tree for fear of breaking an arm.
1. To be independent
I want each of my children to have the ability and confidence to live an independent life, making their own choices based on their own values, and not feeling limited by their fears or insecurities. I have to remind myself of this when it would be easier for me to ‘fix’ one of their problems, than to let them work it out themselves.
2. To reasonably assess risk
Risk management is a huge part of everyday adult life. So whether it be climbing trees or jumping off the playground, I fight my helicopter-parent instincts every day in the hope that by allowing my children to self-monitor their risk-taking (age appropriately, of course) I’m teaching them a skill that will last a lifetime. My hope is that these skills will inform them in the future when it comes to making decisions regarding buying insurance, starting a business, investing in property, etc.
3. To actively practise self discipline
I intentionally use the word “practise” here instead of just teaching my kids to “be” self-disciplined. I believe that self-discipline is not a static character trait that does or does not exist in someone, but a daily choice regarding our actions that is ever-so-difficult to be consistent about.
4. To know how to lead, and also how to follow
Being a leader is not just being bossy. I want my kids to really know how to lead well. But we’ve also all been on a team with too many leaders and no followers. I believe it’s vitally important to know when to lead and when to follow. I hope I can teach my children to know the difference, and to do both well.
I want my children to know the value of hard work, to discipline themselves to work hard, and to appreciate the hard work of others
5. To deal with discouragement, disappointment and failure
Oh, how I wish I’d done better with this in my own life! Defensiveness and shutting down are my main reactions to failure. It takes hugely intentional, difficult work for me to persevere in the face of not succeeding at something. I hope I can teach my kids to embrace failure as a learning opportunity by providing a safe, encouraging place for them to fail.
6. To love reading
Reading teaches empathy by letting us live a world of experiences we never would have had the chance to see otherwise. I want my children to love reading so that they will continually have their eyes and hearts opened to new people, ideas, and places, even if they are limited by finances, location or occupation.
7. To continue learning
A new vocabulary word per week; random trivia facts that will probably never come in handy; the capitals of the countries, I hope that my children will grow up to be adults who love to learn, and never see their education as a task that they have completed or as a box to be ticked.
8. To be kind and generous to others
Enough said. We all know that this is an integral facet of a life well lived.
9. To work hard
If it’s easy, do better, try harder and excel. If it’s difficult, persevere, see it through and buckle down. I want my children to know the value of hard work, to discipline themselves to work hard, and to appreciate the hard work of others.
10. To know what it means to live their own beliefs
My children may not grow up to hold the same values and beliefs as I do. At the very least, I can teach them what it means to try to live out a set of beliefs and principles, so that they can model that in their own lives as well.