I am a firm believer that only the most disciplined parents produce successful, responsible kids. Only kids who are taught the difference between freedom and irresponsibility grow up to be responsible citizens. And we parents have the biggest role to play in grooming our kids.
Constant reminders, strong disciplinary actions, one on one conversations, family dinners, sharing real-life stories, books, visuals, speeches — whatever the mechanism might be.
The truths about life’s realities are better to be told clearly and directly.
The following are conversations I have and continue to have with my 8 and 6-year-old.
#1 One day, mom and dad will die and your life will be your responsibility
Death is an uncomfortable topic especially to talk to kids about. But they need to hear “ One day, mom and dad will die. Mom and Dad will not be around to feed you, pay for you, or buy you things you need. You will be alone and should know how to earn your life for yourself, know right and wrong enough to take care of yourself”
#2 No one will give you a free penny EVER
Money is a Necessity. In a world confused between retirement and laziness, we want our kids to know what they need money to live. And money never comes free — It has to be hard-earned.
They also need to know their lifestyle is directly proportional to their earning capacity. On a lighter note, I tell my kids “You could choose to go to a nice restaurant that serves healthy, fresh food, or a fast food place that serves you re-heated/unhealthy/ frozen foods for cheaper- It all depends on how much money you earn”.
#3 We could lose everything in one day and have to start life over
With natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, one could lose all of the possessions- house, belongings, etc. But, this what we should tell our kids — “No matter what happens, no one could take away your knowledge, skills, and attitude. That will always be yours”.
#4 The life you have is a privilege. Don’t just take it for granted
Every once in a while, I watch videos of kids in other parts of the world — starving, skinny, living in unhygienic conditions with no access to even basic facilities like water.
And a visual is worth a million words.
#5 Your simplest luxury could make someone’s whole year of living
A simple act of giving could mean a lot to someone. “One birthday party money of yours can help someone go to school and eat 2 meals every day — for a whole year”.Even at an age when they cannot comprehend numbers, such a comparison syncs into their brains easily.
This video of the man in a queue in a store, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6v8OPX4p1 is a great one to watch.
Giving away money or things and making kids part of giving away sets a habit for the long term.
#6 Ordinary people change the world, and history is proof
I would highly recommend the series “Ordinary people change the world” to any kid under 10 years of age. This series has a subtle yet strong impact on them(https://www.amazon.com/dp/0803741367/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_Pi8vFbT3HJV2G).
Also, hearing examples of living people has a powerful impact. I always talk about people a lot — Obama, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Rafael Nadal — who came from nowhere and made a mark on the world. There is nothing that will strengthen believing in hard work and perseverance than watching a Jeff Bezos documentary. Someone who rose from selling books from his garage 20 years back and then making it to the world’s richest person 20 years later. It will be their favorite superhero story to hear.
#7 Your job as a kid is to work hard on your habits and your learning
“We are what we learn” speech of Obama is my personal favorite https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZZ6GrzWkw0. And, when Obama, in this speech, speaks of his own story, it is nothing but sheer inspiration for kids. It is direct, simple, and soul-stirring — Even my 5-year-old toddler could relate to it.No one can beat Obama there!
One of my friends (a doctor) reminds her 7-year-old son “Whether you become a doctor or a trash man is purely dependant on how much hard work you put in”. With no insult to the job, kids can envision a future.
#8 You can become whatever you set your mind on.
Dr. Seuss books are great for building a great foundation. “You have brains in your head. You have shoes on your feet. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose”.
#9 Great friendships require investments. To earn the company of smart friends, you have to be smart.
Friends can make or break our childhood and early adulthood. It is important that we tell our kids the importance of right and good friendships. It is also important to tell them that “ A+ grade kids make friends with other A+ s .”
I always quote an example of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, how two great minds in friendship create history in the world of philanthropy.
#10 Even people who have a fortune for generations pursue a purpose
I always talk of Bill Gates’s life to my kids. Though he was born into a rich family, went to a great school, and had everything he wanted, he still choose to do something great. He had access to everything and yet remained motivated to prove to the world his brilliance, then his ability to do great business, and finally went on to pursue his passion for “every life has equal value”. A tremendous story I personally look up to and so do my boys.
Kids should have fun with their life. No denying that. But unfortunately, life could show its ugly face anytime soon. Prepared kids do well when reality strikes hard. The more we reiterate the realities of life to them at an early, the better they are prepared for life
We want to leave the future in the hands of kids who can think creatively, constructively, responsibly, and strive to do the best they can for the communities they live in.
We better be proud parents of a great future generation!
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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