If you ask any parent, “What do you want for your kids?”, eventually you will hear, “I want them to have the life I never had.” They may not sound like that, but parents want their kids to have everything. Yes, we want them to be smart, courteous, have character, show kindness and generosity, but we want them to have it all.
Does every parent want that?
If that’s not you, thanks for reading and you can scroll to the next blog.
But let me ask this question: Are you giving your kids the right life?
Many parents, in an effort to make sure their kids have every opportunity, get the best schooling, play on sports teams and have opportunities for future advancement, go to extreme measures. Parents work long hours or multiple jobs so that they can have the money to pay for all those activities. They run kids from one team, one program, one practice to the next. They push and push so that kids are getting less sleep and growing up faster.
Then you throw this in with what the parents think their kids want for the rest of their lives.
Let me give you an example.
I overheard someone recently talking about their kids and how much both parents were working. This parent said, “My kids are starting to complain that my wife and I aren’t around enough for them because we work too much.” Someone in the group asked, “What did you say?” The parent looked at the group and said, “I told them, ‘You want nice things, don’t you? You want to go on nice vacations and live in the house we have and do the things we do, don’t you?'”
If you can picture the scene, you can imagine the awkward silence that followed.
The answer to that question, if this child answered honestly, would probably be, “Not really.”
I walked away sad for this family but also convicted by this question: Am I giving my kids the life they want, the life they need or the life I think they should have?
It’s a convicting question.
Often I give my kids the life I want them to have. The life that reflects well on me. The life that feels easier or less stressful as a parent.
Not always, but it is easy to fall into.
This is one reason that Katie and I created a family mission statement a few years ago. I detailed the process we went through and what ours is in my book Breathing Room: Stressing Less and Living More.
The problem for parents is, in the hustle and bustle of life, we don’t know the kind of kids we are raising. We have never asked ourselves, “What is the goal of parenting? What will our kids be like when they leave our house?”
Without clarifying that, we end up giving our kids the life everyone else is going for.
But what if that isn’t the life you want for your kids or the life they need?