What’s Your Goal? Good Kids or Great Adults?
Do you have a friend who is really good at starting an argument? Things are nice and calm until he shows up and seems to find joy in stirring things up. On the internet they are called Trolls and I thought I was being played by a Troll trying to get me fired up. I wasn’t expecting Andy Andrews podcast to strike such a nerve with me. He usually is pretty easy to listen to but on this podcast he was getting me arguing. The only problem was that I was alone and arguing with myself.
In the podcast by (Episode 95) Andy said that the goal of parenting isn’t to raise good kids. He’s seen too many good kids turn out to be awful adults. As kids they were polite and respectful but given freedom they ended up being terrors as adults. Instead, Andy says the goal of parenting is to raise great adults.
Okay, I tried to find the flaws in his argument and ended up agreeing with him. Yes, I love being around great kids but I agree that just because a kid is good at being a kid doesn’t mean he will be good at being an adult.
During the seminars I teach for Project Patch, I share a pretty simple drawing which tries to capture that the goal of childhood is to reach adulthood and upon arrival to be respectful, responsible and able to handle risk appropriately. The role of the parent is to teach and mentor. The role of the kid is to take on more responsibility and independence. The relationship changes over time and the goal is not childlike dependence but instead independence. The parent moves from full responsibility to low and while the child moves from being fed, carried and changed to being fully responsible.
I read an article today which discussed changes being made in Britain regarding the age of adulthood. The proposal is to medically consider adulthood beginning at age 25 rather than 18. (Article) What’s interesting is that this shift of personal responsibility is being drawn out further and further. The expectation is that parents provide a “good childhood” well beyond the time kids should be experiencing their “great adulthood”.
So why am I making such a big deal about the difference between a goal of good kids and the goal of great adults. Aren’t these in fact the same goal? The reality is that they are separate goals because the skills required to accomplish them are really different. When your goal is great kids the focus is short term and the overall responsibility and decision making rests on the parents. It is the parent’s overall guidance and work at that very moment that is making the her good. When the focus is on great adults, each moment, activity, accomplishment, and setback is in the perspective of adulthood. The goal is to learn and adjust in the moment not just so create temporary peace but to more importantly make a lasting impact. This doesn’t mean that we are cold and calculated with our kids but it does mean that we keep in mind that she needs to be prepared for life on her own.
Parenting with a goal in mind is key because it forces us to go beyond our comfort zone as parents. We want to shield and protect yet without a long term goal in mind may end up stunting the maturity of our kids based on our fears. On the other extreme parents who don’t see an end in sight and so they live self centered lives and are neglectful of their kids. Parenting with the end in mind acknowledges that our time is short and that we have a lot of work to do with our kids and the clock is not forgiving.
What do you think about the difference between raising good kids and raising great adults? Which goal do you think is more important?