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What Kind of Kids Are You Raising?

Photo Credit: Creative Commons – demandaj

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of an online writing a of mine, Joanna Hyatt.

Based out of Los Angeles, Joanna speaks and writes on dating, relationships and sex. She blogs at www.joannahyatt.com and tweets @JoannaHyatt.

If you’d like to submit a guest post yourself, here are the guidelines.

I’m part of the Millenial Generation. We’re half kids, half adults.

Allowed to ‘explore’ and ‘find ourselves’ for as long as it takes, we avoid relational commitment, financial responsibility and change jobs at dizzying rates.

As I look around at my peers, and the kids coming up behind us, I have to wonder:

Are we raising children or are we raising adults?

It’s a subtle difference, but I’ve seen that those who are raising children tend to focus primarily on success in the now and the immediate future.

Encouraging our kids to get good grades or to excel in athletics or music is good. But what of their character, of their ability to learn from failure and setbacks, or the habit of practicing self-control and sacrifice?

On the other hand, raising adults means raising our children with a bigger picture in mind, where today is just a thread in the larger fabric of their life. It means being intentional about raising individuals who can adapt, adjust and be self-sustaining adults in an unpredictable world.

Taking a page from the example set by my amazing parents, here are three ideas for raising adults:

1. Encourage them to take risks

The more risks your child takes, the more chances they will have to fail. Yes, I want your kids to fail now and again. Failure is a powerful teacher. Your child will learn that no matter what they face, they can find a way to move forward, to pick themselves back up, and take another risk.

They may surprise you in how they handle failure, like Tor’s daughter did here. They’ll learn humility, confidence, and character and won’t be afraid to try new things, from sports and student government, to moving to a new city and searching for a job.

2. Focus on the Bigger Picture

What I often find in speaking to parents today is that they are letting society write the script for their child’s life, rather than using their influence as mom or dad to paint a picture of what their child’s life could and should be.

Don’t be afraid to expect much!

Great expectations can be powerfully transformative and give your children a dream to aim for and the hope for a future better than what this world offers.

If you could choose the BEST future for your son or daughter:

  • Would your child practice sexual integrity and save sex until marriage?
  • Would they be financially independent?
  • Would they develop the talents God has given them, growing into the man or woman they were created to be?
  • Would they be emotionally secure and healthy?
  • Would they know how to care for themselves physically: diet, exercise?
  • Would it mean living a life grounded in and oriented towards the Almighty?

Speak that over them, pepper your conversations regularly with these images, and teach them how to get there.

As parents, it is both our privilege and our responsibility to help our children understand that the decisions they make today are playing into a larger story; a story that is epic, transformative and that can only be lived once.

3. Set and Celebrate Milestones

My dad has always made a point to celebrate major moments in my life, whether it was birthdays, graduations or moving out.

He taught me to celebrate change, to gracefully let go of one season while welcoming the next (I’m still working on that), and to look forward to the future without missing the present.

Today’s youth and young adults are growing up in a society where the milestones and markers have been blurred. We struggle to know what to aim for, what signifies our emergence into adulthood, and how to know when we’ve arrived.

As their parent, you have the unique opportunity to set those milestones and celebrate them when they’re reached. Some examples include:

  • Major birthdays like 13, 16, 18 and 21,
  • Learning to drive,
  • First job (or any job in this economy),
  • Moving out and paying their own rent and bills,
  • Getting involved in community groups or a church,
  • Dating, Marriage and Children (I’d recommend them in that order).

Whatever the age of your children, whether 4 or 24, it’s never too late to raise them to be adults, to celebrate the milestones in their life, and to teach them the unique role they play in the epic adventure that is humanity.

What are some ways you are intentional about raising your children to become adults?

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  1. I think it’s important for people to realize they can’t change their kid in an instant. If you let something slide because “Well, they’re kids now. When they’re 16, we’ll just teach them the right way.” That won’t work.

    Now, this doesn’t need to be extreme. For example, when we go out to eat, we pay for our kid’s meals. We don’t have them pay their own. However, they both understand the concept that we as a family have a budget for eating out, and that’s why we’re not out every night, and that’s why we choose a $5 Hot and Ready pizza instead of running to Applebee’s sometimes.

    And one question everyone is thinking……are you related to Michael?

  2. Great thoughts. We are trying to teach our kids to embrace who they are, and the importance of helping others and showing love to them. When you teach it and live it wen they are young, the importance stays with them.

  3. hipmamamedia says:

    Great post, Joanna! One thing we have done is teach our kids to honor their commitments even if something “better” comes along. If they say they are going to have dinner with Grandma, they can’t ditch her when their friends spontaneously decided to go to the movies and they get an invite. Adults keep their word. We have three kids and we did the exact thing your folks did: we celebrate big for the milestone birthdays: 10 (hitting double digits), 13 (teen) 16 (sweet 16 for our girls) 18 (young adult) and next year 21 (legal adult for our son). It makes it special and fun!

    • Joanna Hyatt says:

      Thank you! Love the idea of teaching them to honor their commitments, especially for this ADD generation where we’re always looking for something better.

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