If I Had Kids: Define Beauty
For those of you who missed the first part of this article, I shared about how parenting is so important, probably the most important leadership role in society. I also shared about how I’m concerned with the world my future kids will be entering because of the degradation of society’s values. In fact, I’ve found, most of the time, when I ask a person the very fundamental question of “What do you value?” I usually get this response: “Huh? What do you mean?” In other words, what is non-negotiable and important to them has not been identified and committed to. What’s so bad about that? When we don’t know what’s non-negotiable in our lives, our lives become the product of every day negotiations instead of the purposeful pursuit of what we have set aside as important. When we’re really honest with ourselves, we will see that we normally lose the negotiations in our decision-making. Want proof? How many times have we said wouldn’t eat too much but actually do – and then order dessert? How many times have we told ourselves, “just one more episode” and end up going on a whole marathon? If we don’t decide things beforehand, we will most likely lose life’s negotiations. When we lose life’s negotiations, we end up paying too high a price for things that are not worth it – this is the formula of regret. The way to minimize regret in our lives and the lives of our children is not to minimize risk or there won’t be progress. The way to minimize regret is to learn to love the right things, to risk for the right things, to suffer for the right things, to learn how to pay the cost for things that are worth it. In short, we, and our kids need to learn what true love is, what we should love truly, and how to truly love. In my limited experience, I would say that parenting, and all kinds of leadership, is about making others fall in love with the right things. And what do people fall in love with? Beauty. People fall in love with what they find beautiful. What we find beautiful, we will love, and will choose to be as close as possible. This is why it is true that with love, we end up with what we choose. Or as a friend told me from the famous book Perks of Being A Wallflower (which I have never read nor watched), “We accept the love we think we deserve.” So of the many roles parents and leaders have, defining what is truly beautiful is one of the most important. How do we define beauty for our kids? It’s simple. Their definition for beauty will come from our definition of beauty or from the world’s. Our kids will find beautiful what we praise. If what we praise isn’t obvious, they will love what the world praises. If we praise what the world praises, then our kids will definitely follow. If my boys see me crazy about boobs and “hot girls”, they will look for that. If my daughters see me crushing on different people, she’ll think that she has to be like them to be beautiful. If making money is what is praised, if being smart is what is praised, if being better than others, being top, being the prettiest, the sexiest, the strongest, the coolest, if these are what are praised, then don’t be surprised when our kids fall for these things. We set the standards for our kids. If we are comfortable with rationalising a low standard, don’t expect a higher standard for the next generation. Don’t expect your sons and daughters to be attracted to deeper things if the example you show is shallow. Don’t expect passion from your kids if what is praised is stoic, no-mistakes, religion. But if we paint a beautiful picture of what is truly lovely, of what is truly noble, praiseworthy, and excellent, if we praise these things, then we define for our family what is beautiful, though the world confuse us at times, we will return to that which we were taught is truly beautiful and of most value. (Philippians 4:8) This is why praising and worshipping God is not merely a personal exclamation but a community activity. It is all of us together proclaiming “God, You are most beautiful.” Summary: Define what is beautiful for your children. How? Praise truly beautiful things. Begin by lifting God up in your life. If your kids see who and what you prioritize, what you “like” on social media, what you read, what excites you and brings you butterflies, they will naturally learn to find these things beautiful – for better or worse.