I had the privilege of talking to a few parents this week. Observed some traits of parents whose sons and daughters I would love to hire:
1. They teach their children how to think deeply about things and not simply take things at face value. There is one particular story of a father who told his pre-teen daughter “If a boy gives you a fancy gift to win you, give the gift back. That’s not what should impress you. In fact, it should NOT impress you that someone thinks it’s ok to spend his parents’ money so easily. Look for character.” This parent has made it clear that more important than “wow” or “sweet” or “impressive” are values. This will do more to shape the kind of guy his daughter is attracted to than any comments he makes about guys when she’s old enough to choose for herself.
2. They encourage hard work, responsibility, and stretching, and don’t feel guilty that their kids aren’t as comfortable as other kids. The weakest people I know are those who were always bailed out by family and friends. A lot of these people are talented and smart but default back to looking for exits and escapes. When parents deprive kids of the necessary suffering that produces perseverance, they deprive them of that all-important ingredient to success: character. I texted one dad whose daughter applied to work for us, “We’re going to work her very hard. I just want to let you know.” He replied, “Good. That’s good for her.” Another mom told me, “We cut their allowance in half and told them they have to find ways to make-up the difference. We wanted to force them to learn how to work.” I can’t wait to see what they’ll achieve.
3. They don’t let their insecurities get in the way of what God wants to do in their kids’ lives. Too many parents tie their identities too closely with their kids that approval in this area, whether their kids appreciate them or whether others think they’re good parents, becomes so important they’re not able to think objectively about what’s right for their kids. We all have insecurities, but to make decisions based on our fears is not the way to go. A fearful approach will lead to manipulation and control. It doesn’t work in the office, it won’t work at home. People need room to learn – which also means they need room to fail, and when they fail, they want what we all want when we too fail: someone to catch us, to be there for us, to correct us but also to help us back up. Helping someone always costs the helper. If we’re too busy seeing things from the perspective of our insecurities we will be unable see the solution of faith.
It’s not worst thing in the world if your kid is the only kid without a Playstation, or an iPhone, or a car. It will be much more terrible if if he doesn’t know how to work hard, doesn’t know how to persevere, is dishonest, is bratty, or is unable to make intelligent decisions.
Don’t be ashamed of not being able to afford things. Pray together, work hard together, save together. The world is not short of money. It is short of stewards.
Don’t be ashamed of not knowing everything. Learn together, study together, grow together. The world is not short smart people. It is short of loving community.
Don’t be ashamed of not having prodigies or honor students. Have faith together, please God together, and let Him honor you. The world is not short of honor students. It is short honorable men and women.