"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it but that it's too low and we reach it."

My parenting goals

As my kids grow up I want them to retain their ability to marvel at life's simple things and hug as sincerely as they do now. I want them to know how to cry out of happiness. I wish they be well off but not rich. I want them to get goosebumps from music. I want them to have the guts to do what's right and to be kind to all living things. I want them to remain curious and playful. I want them to treat failure as an opportunity to try again. I want them to feel satisfied and proud of themselves.

Top five traits: courageousness, drive, perseverance, compassion and resourcefulness.

I want to create balance in our kids lives by not putting too much emphasis on a single discipline. I want to expose them to a wide variety of situations and activities, fuel their curiosity and engage their whole selves. I want to give them freedom to choose how they want to live their lives by showing them how to set their own goals and teaching them how to accomplish these goals.

I want them to realize these all on their own. As a parent it's not my job to achieve these goals for them or to make them happy. My job is to create the conditions under which they can pursue their own happiness.

The trick

Good goals are inherently contradictory. If they weren't they would be lopsided, bad goals. For example: a goal to become wealthy without regard to other people is not contradictory but it's wrong. A goal to become wealthy while caring for other people is right but it's contradictory because if one cares for other people then they donate excess money to those in need thus never become wealthy. Finding a middle ground is what creates balance. Balance is what allows us to see both sides of the coin, to be fair and see the world from different perspectives. Here are some examples of goals that clash:

  • how to tell kids that some of school is B.S. - but respect their teachers anyway
  • encourage leadership while expecting kids to follow instructions and do what adults say
  • encourage risk taking while keeping safety a priority
  • encourage academic advancement in a way that climbing a tree remains just as important as math
  • keep life filled with wonder while keeping in touch with reality
  • give them everything while teaching financial responsibily and ask them not to take things for granted
  • etc.

The other trick

To let them go when they are ready. This is in sharp contrast with my desire to spend time with them. It's fine to be together as long as it's mutually beneficial but I need to realize when the time comes to let them live on their own and put many years of parenting to a test: if we did a good job they will want to come back and visit often. If we did a bad job they will go and be gone.

Swimming upstream

I'm fully aware that swimming upstream is harder than going with the flow. But the reward far outweighs that of mainstream "achievements". Arguably there is no reward at all for going with the flow.

A three year old is not half a six year old!

Enough said.

About the crowd

Sadly, it's very easy to find bad examples. All around us are examples of children who aren't paid attention to or cared for. It's common practice to go with what everyone else is doing, to do what celebrities tell us, to be part of the crowd and ignore instincts and go against what's natural. The crowd is seldom right. The crowd always converges toward an easier, cheaper solution. Being part of a crowd requires minimal effort and creates the illusion that by doing what everyone else is doing we're doing a good job. When we find ourselves on the side of majority it's time to re-evaluate our values!