When having a conversation with some friends the other day, we were talking about how most parents desire that their kids grow up to be good people. Of course there’s nothing wrong with hoping for this, and I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but I knew that just “being good people” is not what I want for our kids. For some reason the conversation made me feel unsettled inside.
What kind of Mom am I to not want our kids to be good people?
It sounds crazy, right? Of course that’s what we should want for our kids! To grow up to be good people who do good things and maybe have kids themselves to add more good people to the world.
So I brought it up with our Bible study friends…
They helped me by asking, “But what is good? Who decides?” I was reminded that I’d written about this before in the post, How to raise kids to be committed Christians:
Some say they want to raise good people. Of course we all want our kids to grow up to be kind, generous people, but what is “good” and where does that standard come from? That’s too wishy-washy and too susceptible to whatever the culture tells us is right, or to whatever a person desires at each moment. We all know how easy it is to convince ourselves that something is “the right thing” when we really want it to be so. Instead we want them to be good for a higher purpose and to stand on Someone who is unchanging.
So I was thinking more about what I DO want for them and this is what I came up with so far…
I pray our kids:
- Will keep their priorities in order and live their lives in line with that: JOY = Jesus first, others second, yourself last.
- Will do the right thing when no one is looking, even when it’s difficult, costly, or inconvenient, or when “everyone” is doing it. (“Everyone lies sometimes!”, “Everyone lives together before they’re married!”)
- Will use their gifts from God to serve others — He gave us all different gifts for a reason!
- Will love their family and friends selflessly so it draws them and others to greater holiness.
- Will love the Lord so much that they’ll feel compelled to help others know Him too, in whatever way He leads.
- Will look at everyone through the lens of love, no matter their appearance or what their lifestyle or choices are. Not that every choice is right in God’s eyes, and there are times to speak up about this, but not often and only with great care and prayer. In most cases just being a friend and loving them where they are is what God asks. Later in His time He can guide them to make any changes, maybe that’ll be through you or maybe not. (How many times have we started to make assumptions about someone by their situation or how they seem on the outside, then later got to know them and their whole story and found out they were not at all what we first thought?) Few are drawn to God through a judgmental person, which leads to the next one…
- Will be aware of their own shortcomings or bad choices so it makes them humble and draws them to quickly ask God and others for forgiveness when needed.
- Will practice forgiving others. Holding on to hate hurts us more than them. Choosing to let it go doesn’t mean what the person did was okay, not at all! Or even that you have to be chummy with them again, but it does mean that you’re not hanging on to it anymore. It’s so freeing, and I want our kids to know this! ( Here’s a good book about that: Why Forgive?)
- Will stay close to the Lord in the good times, when it’s easiest to fall away from Him because we’re too comfortable, and use that time to practice gratefulness, to learn more from His Word and serve more… (The lyrics in this song say it well.)
- Will not let worry take hold in their lives. I pray they hold tight to and trust Jesus. Even if it’s a matter of worry over lukewarm faith. Know that peaks and valleys are normal in our faith life, think of how Saint Teresa of Calcutta felt spiritually dry for many years. The key, however, is that she kept living her strong Christian life, even when she didn’t feel the hand of God. (Read more about that here: “What if I don’t feel anything?”)
- And in the bad times when their faith may be tested, that they will draw even closer and shine with the glory of God, that they have peace that passes all human understanding, and won’t let their suffering be wasted. (Read more about suffering here.)
- Will love God’s Word in the Bible (takes practice and commitment!) and cherish Jesus in the Sacraments — especially in the Eucharist so they’re drawn to receive Him often, even if the singing is bad and the preacher is boring. (That their faith is deep enough to stay strong and faithful even when the singing is bad and the preacher is boring.)
What would you add to this list? What did I miss?
Lord help me be a better example in all of this since our kids are watching. Increase their faith so they love you deeply, flood them with the grace to be open wide for conversion to happen in the depth of their souls! Give me wisdom so I never get in the way of that happening by trying to make life easier or “fix” everything for them.
God bless all of our children!
More you might like:
- Basic Christianity FAQ’s (things you may have always wondered about)
- How to raise kids to be committed Christians (from an imperfect parent)
- How to know God’s will for our lives (you’ll love this)
- Surviving Infidelity (did you know that was even possible?)