Raising Kids for Adulthood

At a parenting workshop I attended many years ago, the leader asked us to write down our goals and hopes for our children as they grow up. What would we like to see for them at age 21?

It was a heartwarming experience to imagine our children on the verge of being launched, all full of glowing potential without the messy inconvenience of reality mucking up the fantasy.  My list was filled with lofty goals—that they would understand our strengths and limitations, that they would have a spirit of service toward others, and so forth.  (Later, I asked Robert what he would wish for our children- what success would look like at age 21. Without hesitation, he said, “Their own apartment.”)

After writing our lists, the workshop participants read them to one another and basked in the radiance of all these self-actualized Eagle scouts and lacrosse captains, confident yet humble.  They were like young adult ghosts, beaming all around us. Then the leader said something that made them all disappear: Poof!

“This list is for you,” she said. “You want your children to have a spirit of service? A sense of the Holy? A curiosity and openness to the world? Cultivate those things for yourself. Let them see you do it. Become the parent and person you want to be. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your child.”  

            -Sabbath in the Suburbs MaryAnn McKibben Dana