You’ve heard the stories. A kid grows up in a great family with wonderful parents, then, for some unexplainable reason, gets into trouble.
Perhaps it happened because his parents had a somewhat misguided goal: to raise a good kid.
Andy Andrews, author and storyteller, talked about this when he spoke to the Team National convention in Orlando in July 2013.
He says that parents should not have the goal to raise good kids. Instead, their goal should be to raise kids that will become great adults.
What’s the difference? Look at it this way: a parent tells the story of how their child went wrong when he grew up, and they say they did everything right. But did they?
Some parents believe that if they can keep their kids isolated into their own world for as long as possible, they will have values so embossed into their being that they will never want to stray into the world of drugs, alcohol, crime etc.
Some parents want to influence kids to the point of having a say in whom they marry.
But sometimes, restricting kids can create pent-up demand to explore the outside world. They may want to meet people who are not like them. They will want to see places they were never allowed to see, or do things they were never allowed to do.
Some parents don’t want their children asking questions. They’d prefer to give them only information they “need to know,” and on their terms.
No parent can stop curiosity. No parent can stop the natural feelings children may have for others as they grow older. No parent can keep a child in a bubble for life.
What one hopes for as a parent is that the child grows to make good choices. Sometimes, that might mean exposing them to people who’ve made bad choices while they are young.
In the movie “The Jazz Singer,” Neil Diamond’s character grows up in a very conservative Jewish household. His father tells him that he has to know where he came from to know where he is going.
Instead of being a cantor in a synagogue, Diamond’s character grows up to be a singer who performs pop music in front of huge audiences – like Diamond in real life.
Being a successful performer is not what his father wanted for Diamond’s character. He wanted him to use his talents as a servant to the synagogue. Eventually, the father came to embrace the son for who he is.
Children will become who they are, no matter the circumstances in which they grow up. A parent’s goal is to see their child become a great adult – one who helps others, who has humility, integrity and generosity.
If you raise a child like that, you are a successful parent. The child may get there via a path you did not design for them, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the result on the other end.
Raising good children is fine, but it doesn’t stop there. Watching them make life choices can be painful to you, but you have to love them for who they are. If they get in trouble, help them. If they pursue a life path of which you don’t approve, just look at the result. If they have excellent personal qualities as adults, you did a great job as a parent.
If you have grown to adulthood and are looking to make good choices, visit It could be the biggest life-changing choice you could ever make. No matter what you do in life, choose wisely and make your parents – eventually – proud.