We as parents are sometimes so focused on what our children are accomplishing that we may lose sight of who they are becoming.
It is good that we push our children to be all that they can be. We do this by challenging them to do well in school, sports, music, etc. As they grow older, we challenge them to do community service and get a part-time job (while keeping up everything else.) We then push them to do all they can to get into the best college and apply for every scholarship. We see the light at the end of the tunnel, as we push them to apply for internships and finally that job after college. We think our job as parents will then be done.
All of you are probably somewhere along this timeline with your children, with the ultimate goal of them being independent. We can rattle off all their accomplishments to friends we run into at the grocery store as we brag. But who brags about the character traits they have developed? We are so concerned about the “hard work” ethic and we forget about other ethics. What about kindness, honesty, lawfulness, respect? What does your child do when no one is looking? These are all taught by you when your child is young but must be reinforced as your children are growing older as well. Don’t be afraid to continue disciplining your children as they grow older:
- You said mean things to Johnny so I want you to apologize.
- You have been excluding Suzy when you play so I want you to invite her over.
- You have been selfish lately so I want you to help our neighbor this weekend.
- You lied to me so I am not letting you go to the movies tonight.
- You cheated on the test so I am taking your phone away for a week.
- You got drunk with friends so I have signed you up to volunteer at a homeless shelter.
When you children are grown and they are out of college and working, you may run into someone you know at the grocery store and you start talking about your children. This time instead of rattling off your list of accomplishments you can say, “I’m really proud of who they have become.”