Does it scare anyone else that our world seems to be shifting more and more towards people living a very selfish, self-centered life? Hubby and I had a huge discussion about this the other day, and in the end we decided it’s because there is a core characteristic missing in so many people: lack of purpose. The scary part is that when you live without purpose and life gets hard, you have no reason to fight until it gets better. But the even scarier part is imagining your kids in that tough spot — do they have purpose? Do they have a reason to fight when the going gets hard?
We’ve all heard those stories of men/women surviving the wilderness or surviving out in the open sea. The reason they made it when their comrades didn’t is that they had a REASON to live.
The selfish lack-of-purpose culture is not how I want my child to grow up. It will affect every aspect of her life, from career to relationships. When life gets hard our kids need a reason to fight — a purpose for their lives.
Teaching kids to live with purpose:
1. Teach them how to dream
One of the best ways to teach kids to dream is by sharing your dreams with them and leading by example. Share and chat often about what your dreams are and how you are working toward achieving them.
Act on your dreams — I am a big believer in the fact that your kids pick up on what you do more than what you say. They are watching everything we do. EVERYTHING!
Brainstorm with them about what some of their ideas may be. Their dreams do not have to be defined and they may not even know which direction to go with their dreams. Talk about how dreams are fluid, that they can change as you go, and that’s ok.
Write their dreams down — this list is not to limit them but to remind them and give them something to build off of. It’s free for them to edit as they go.
2. Reign in self-centeredness
Purpose that is rewarding in the long term has to be unselfish. In order for the best dreams to succeed, the root of the dream has to be bigger than just you.
- Teach them kindness towards others & towards themselves.
- Instill generosity — generosity of resources, especially including time.
- Help them see that even though world is bigger than just them, their impact can be bigger than the world.
3. Train up a child in the way he should go.
This takes mom and dad SLOWING DOWN — spend time watching your child. Really, really watch and learn who THEY ARE. In such a fast paced world, sometimes we accidentally define who our child is for them.
What natural talents do they have that you can help them build on?
4. Allow them to experience the world
While your kids are still with you, it’s important to allow for an amount of freedom. This gives them a chance to learn how to do things on their own while they are still under your protection. Allow opportunities for them to make their own decisions. Allow them to fail and teach them how to learn from their mistakes. If they are never able to taste and experience freedom, rewards, and consequences of their choices, what will they do when suddenly it’s thrown at them all at once? These skills should be taught now. Open up opportunities for them. It’s ok to start small at first, especially if this is new territory for them and you. Just remember it’s important to expose your children to the world while they are still with you.
If we aren’t the one to push them, expose them, and teach them purpose, we are leaving it to the world to teach them — a scary thought.