What do you want your kids to be when they grow up?
I don’t mean what they should do for a living.
I mean, what kind of person will they be?
Who will they be?
Why are these questions important? Because as parents, we get busy focusing on what is going on right now–or in the near future. We tend to think about what is immediate, what will most matter in their pre-adult years. So we watch their grades and do everything possible to make sure they do great in school. We obsess over their childhood friends and arrange playdates. We ensure they play the right sport or focus on the right artistic talent.
And we’re doing it completely wrong.
All those things are fine, but if that’s we are focusing on, we’re not focusing on the one thing that matters most: the end.
We get so busy focusing on who are kids are now that we forget to think about who they will become. Who will your children be when they are your age?
You want your kids to love others? You need to model that. Want a child who realizes that marriage is awesome, but it’s a lot of work? Then show your kids that. Hope your child values relationships over things? People over work? Then show them that, every opportunity you can.
Respectful adults had parents who modeled respect. A man who honors his wife probably had a dad who did the same. A woman who knows the value of hard work most likely had a mother who taught her that. Honesty, a sense of fun, responsibility, creativity, genuineness–these are all things we learn from our parents.
Of course, the opposite is also true. Teach kids that work matters more than family by working too much. Model for kids what matters most to you by what you devote your time to. Want your kids to grow up angry? Be an angry parent. Want kids to be disrespectful or rude? Show them that. Is football more important than church? Is blaming others more important than personal responsibility? Your attitude toward these things will set the stage for your kids.
After all, the things you saw in your home growing up helped fix your feelings on things like marriage, money, church, relationships.
The kind of person your children grow up to be is only minimally determined by their school, the sports they play, or the friends they had playdates with. It’s you who has the greatest potential to determine how your children act when they grow up–you are the biggest single influence in your child’s life, and what they see you do is what they will eventually do themselves.
I’m not perfect by any means, but parenting with the end in mind means I’m going to make sure I hang out as often as possible with my children. I’m going to kiss my wife in front of them. When we do argue, I’m also going to be quick to own up to my mistakes and ask forgiveness. I want my sons to honor and respect their wives. I want my daughters to expect kindness and gentleness from a man. I want them to be parents who enjoy being with their kids and create as many memories as possible with them while they can. This is what it means to think about the end.
When you think about the person you hope your child will be at your age, remember the one thing that matters most: think about the end. Remember that what you model for them today helps determine who they will be tomorrow.