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The Biggest Mistake Parents Make When Raising Their Kids
By: Tim Kimmel
When I watch well-meaning, well-intended, conscientious parents trying to raise their kids, there’s one mistake I see them making over and over again. It’s aiming their kids at a successful future. They want them to grow up to be a success. The problem with this is that it has to do with how we quantify success. You see, we quantify success in material ways; wealth, beauty, power, and fame. We want our kids to make a lot of money, to have real handsome kids, and to turn heads. We want them to be somebody that can push their weight around and be well known.
There’s nothing wrong with these things until they become embedded in our heart as the things that we most need to feel complete. Because these are empty suits. They do not satisfy. They have a hunger that you can never quench. You’ve got to give them more than that. And that’s why I think the parents that figure this out step back and say, “No, there’s something far bigger in life than success.” Far more important; and that’s what I like to call true greatness. You raise your kids to live for others. You want kids to be others-oriented. My wife had a theory on when you should start teaching your kids this – the second they start to breathe. And that was the way it was in our home; she wanted our kids to be others-oriented from the beginning. Always serving outwards.
I grew up in a home like this – in Pennsylvania in my younger years and Maryland in my teenage years. We would get big blizzards, and the night before when I knew the wind was howling and the snow was coming, I’d go to bed all excited. I knew when I got up in the morning I would look out at that drifting snow and I knew two things. One, they are going to cancel school, and, two, I’m going to have a lot of money in my pocket by the end of the day from shoveling walks and driveways. My brother Tom and I would get our shovels and eat a big breakfast before going out to work, but my mother always handed us a little list with 4 or 5 names on it. It was always the same, “Now go dig these people out. You cannot take a penny from them, and once you’ve got their sidewalks clear and driveways shoveled, then you can go to the paying customers.” These were elderly people, shut-ins, people on a pension.
And that’s just the way it was. You didn’t question it, you just dug them out and then you moved on. When our kids were younger, we would come to pick them up in the nursery at church on Sunday morning and my wife would not let them leave there until they helped put all the toys away, even if they didn’t play with them. They then hugged the teacher and thanked them for the lesson. Then they could go.
You were at McDonalds or another fast food place and you were eating; when you were done, you had to clean things up. Somebody left a mess at the next table, you cleaned it up! You see, but there’s a guy there with a sponge…forget it, you just clean it up. It’s others-oriented. And when you raise kids for true greatness, you set them up for an adult life that is contagious. Everybody wants them to be part of their life.
There’s something that I have in my mind that helps quantify true greatness. It’s four qualities I think you embed deep down in your heart – humility, gratefulness, generosity, and a servant’s heart. You want to raise kids who are not about themselves; they are humble, they care about others more than they care about themselves, and they’re grateful for what they have. They’re not whining, they’re not always wanting more, and they’re grateful. They’re generous; they hold what they have in open hands. And then when it comes to their abilities, it’s always to help make other people’s lives better. You serve others. And you don’t have to wait until they’re teenagers. You start now.
And…what’s great, there are all kinds of ways they can do it right there inside your home.
Used with permission from iQuestions.com.