A list to remind me of what I'm really doing as a parent
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 own 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 figure it out themselves.
To reasonably assess risk. Risk management is a huge part of everyday adult life. So whether it be climbing trees or jumping off of the playground, I fight my helicopter-parent instincts every day in the hopes that by allowing my children to self-monitor their own risk-taking (age appropriately, of course) I’m teaching them skills 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.
To actively practice self-discipline. I intentionally use the word “practice” 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.
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.
To deal with discouragement and disappointment and failure. Oh, how I wish I did 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.
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.
To seek to continue learning. A new vocabulary word per week; random trivia facts that will probably never come in handy; the capitals of all the countries Central America: whatever it is, 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 a box to be checked.
To be kind and generous to others. Enough said. We all know that this is an integral facet of a life well-lived.
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 disincline themselves to work hard, and to appreciate the hard work of others.
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.
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