Two Ways to Raise Kids


Encouraging your children to be successful in their activities is important, but it should not take the place of teaching morality or character building; encourage children to achieve great things while preparing them to deal with obstacles and failures along the way.

I am about to tread on some very thin ice. I just want to warn you. I am about to talk about how most parents and teachers go about developing kids into adults.

I have some friends who have two talented children. Both kids are teenagers and both are actors, singers and dancers. They both aspire to make it on Broadway. Their parents have resourced them with voice lessons and training every step along the way. In fact, I’d say the parents are consumed with their children’s success.

So far, so good.

The bad news is, success to them is simply making it “big” in their career as an entertainer. That vision has taken precedence over anything else, including instilling values inside those kids that will help them make wise decisions once they enter their career. Expediency rules the day. The problem is this: when our vision for our kids’ future precedes helping them embody a set of values, they will enter unknown territory without a moral compass. The mantra is: whatever you have to do to get ahead, do it. And they will likely compromise who they are just to reach a goal. Sadly, this is already evident in my friends’ two children.

I know another family with children who also aspire to make it as entertainers. They are going about it in a totally different manner. They are careful to have conversations with their young teens about their integrity, their ethics and their personal identity. This mom and dad are helping them know what to do in any situation before they get to it. Values comes before vision.

As adults, we all have this same decision in front of us. Does vision precede values or vice versa? Our nation is full of “vision before values” people and we have seen it wreck kids, from child actors to NCAA athletes, to companies like Enron, to teachers in schools who will cheat on test scores just to pass the students through the system. Their goal became bigger than their identity. That always produces trouble. In fact, I believe it is a recipe for disaster. We must help students know who they are before determining where they’re going.

 Which are you working on first: vision or values?

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