Published on May 6th, 2013 | by Paz3
Raise Smart Children NOT Responsible Children
Everyday we read and meet extremely successful and happy adults that society would consider irresponsible. We aspire to raise our children to be just like them.
In the last three years of our life we have purged our belongings, moved our family around the world, riden on elephants through the jungle, created a profit turning business, and been completely irresponsible.
Our decision to sell our belongings, quite a job, leave a supportive community, and move to China with two young children (1 & 3) was frowned upon by many and the phrase “running from responsibilities” was used quite often. The ironic part was that we felt like we were finally really being smart for the first time in our lives.
Being responsible in today’s society can kill your ability to be smart & achieve your goals
What does it mean to be responsible in today’s society? What most parents/adults want for their children to accomplish has more to do with what we think is good for them, with very little focus put on what is actually good for them, and even less on what is smart for each individual child. The worst part is that our expectations for children are based on our society’s 1940′s model on the American Dream.
We no longer want our children to be game changers…we only want them to play the game.
- Today being responsible means going to a good college – (no matter how much you have to borrow)
- Worrying about what kind of job you can score when you get out of school
- Taking almost any job because the economy is bad…especially for unexperienced people…right???? That is what everyone says….
- Buying a house (taking on more debt) normally more than they can afford in an area only because it is close to a job
- Working 45 – 60 hours at a job that you really aren’t passionate about or in an environment that drains them
- On the weekends run around fixing your house, running errands, and doing what is needed to look like you have it all figured out.
The reward is at the end of the day or week we hope that our children will stop by and visit. During this time we will have fairly mundane (non-passionate) conversation about work, to do items, and life. Does this sound like being smart with the one life you have been given, or just responsible?
What happened to passionate conversation about changing the world? Couldn’t your conversations with your children revolve around what problem they are solving that will affect people, a project or technology that they wake up every morning hungry for, or a adventures they are planning for or possibly just returned from. What happened to us wanting that kind of conversation at our dinner table?
We were responsible adults for many years. You can live your life being responsible and have a very decent life. The problem with living a responsible life and not a smart life is that it deters you from having a passionate, exciting, and utterly fulfilling life.
Be SMART not responsible
- Acquire an education that makes sense for the student. There are hundreds of ways to learn and grow. Most of them don’t require a 40K student loan.
- Have a problem? Well your not the first and you aren’t alone. Find out how others’ have solved similar problems through researching the internet. Reach out to those who have gone before you. Don’t give in to the what you “think” you should do, find out different ways around the situation.
- When we were moving, we reached out to families and experts who helped us through our process.
- In creating our online business, I called and e-mailed other professionals and talked about the issues we should expect and how to handle them. It was priceless information that cost us nothing and put us months ahead in our business plan.
- Listen to your heart – be smart! Your heart is your decision compass. It was a gift that should not be ignored. Our move to China made no sense. We completely agree….although it didn’t have to make sense. It was tugging at our hearts and it was our passion that helped us through the tough times. Had we ignored our hearts we would still be miserable and I wouldn’t be writing this for you today.
- Staying out of debt gives breathe to true freedom – there is NO GOOD DEBT! We learned this from Dave Ramseyand only wished I had learned it before getting into all our debt, we now are working our way out of it.
- Dave is brilliant in his explanation of debt and that there is no asset until it is paid off. Your mortgage is not an asset. You are only kidding yourself or actually societies allusion to get you to owe more money. When you are responsible to another person for money it takes your focus and passion away from what you really want to do.
- Work towards your dream not someone else’s. Working for someone else is important and valuable, someone has to do those jobs and they are important. I have done them for many years and millions of people do, that is how the world works….right?
- Over the last 3 years we have met people from all walks of life with different talents that have created their own smart jobs. They have engineered, created, designed their own careers and are making more than an average salary. They have designed a career that earns them much more than a paycheck.
How to Raise SMART children
We want our children to be obedient. The problem with our expectation is that we have been applauding our children’s obedience and then expect them to be innovative independent thinkers as soon as they are out on their own, they can’t. They don’t know how.
- As children they obey and please their parents as adults they obey and please a boss, society, a group of friends, they never learn to obey and please themselves. This is why more than 75% of people are unhappy in their jobs/situation.
- Instead of living a life where they listen to their own needs they follow a company and live a life that they don’t really want. Instead of living a life they were called to, they suppress their wants in desires with debt (Target runs) and food.
“If your friends jump off a cliff, are you going too?”
Haven’t we all heard that phrase from someone in our family. The irony in this phrase is that it normally comes before or after we have told our children to listen to almost 100% with-out question to everyone else in their life; teacher, neighbor, coach, pastor, family friend. Of course they are going to jump that is what we have trained them to do….jump when told. Right?
Listen to your children’s wants and desires on ALL topics. Include your children on major decisions both with life, and money. You won’t believe the amount of clarity a 4 yr old can bring to the table. Most importantly LISTEN!!! It is imperative that you trust your children first and foremost.
- Deciding on a school? Let your child have a say in the decision process and not just college.
- Making a budget? Let your children know why you have decided on $100 a month entertainment budget. What do they think of that? Do they understand the decision making process.
- Does your child NOT like their school? Listen to them and act upon the information they give you. They know what is going on more than you do.
Our story….“In a hotel room in Malaysia after arriving into a Tsunami (seriously we saw 20′ waves) we didn’t know to stay, to go, we were a wreck. We asked our daughter and God (of course) to stay or go. She picked. We stayed. Our journey would have been different had we left Malaysia, we would be different people had we spent that month in another location. I don’t know if it was for the better or worse, but we let her make the decision and we trusted her.”
The important part was that she felt like an important member of our family, one with an opinion that we love and trust. We want her to view herself as someone who can be trusted and can have an impact.
We second guess our children and ruin their confidence. Have you ever asked your child a question and then ask it again, even after they answered you. It automatically suggests that we don’t believe or trust what they have said. Little by little parents break down their child’s confidence in their own ideas and thoughts. They must be wrong since their own mother or father doesn’t find validity in their thoughts, statements, or ideas.
We teach them to mistrust their inner voice and life long desires.
You might think that by questioning if they really set the table or did their homework that you are just “double checking”, but what you are really doing is saying that you don’t believe them the first time.
This makes them second guess themselves…did I do that, and why don’t they believe me? Believe them!! Even if later you find out that they missed a place setting or didn’t do all of their chores, you can then point out the discrepancy in their earlier declaration and that you trusted and believed them.
Example: If you child believes that gravity is completely misunderstood, don’t sit there and argue. Let your child teach you their new discovery. Let them work through it on their own. Give them the space to figure out if they are wrong or right.
Now don’t coddle your child or let them think that they are always right, that won’t help them either. Nevertheless as parents we don’t need to cut them off at the beginning. We want to encourage their natural ability to challenge status quo. We want them to push the envelope. Life is about pushing the envelope.
We want our children to be like other children. We all do it. I do. We want our kids to be good at something, like the kid next door is or how we used to be. The problem is that we tend to push and corner our children into activities that are limited or that they are not interested in. We all tend to assimilate to our environment and our aspirations then become limited based on our environment. Now this isn’t always bad, however if you aren’t aware of it then it can be.
We have had to retrain our own minds into being smart and living our lives smartly. With two children under five we understand how important it is to nurture them to be smart and not do or think a certain way because it makes us happy or a teacher happy or what their friends are doing.
- Introduce them to different activities that AREN’T what other kids are doing. i.e. Polo, underground hip hop, travel writing
- Pay attention to their strengths and nurture their strengths, don’t focus on weakness.
- Show gratitude for their life and what they do. Get excited about their contributions to the world. Our jobs as parents is to make them feel that they can make a difference and change the world with whatever their contribution will be.
Zeek and I are eager to hop on this roller coaster of a life that Abe and Lupita have already started to navigate independently at ages 3 & 5. Our job is to support them, help guide, expose them, and always love them along their journey. However it is their journey not ours. They only get one life and we pray that they live it with wisdom not obligation.
“Smart is as smart does”
Right? Smart doesn’t care if it should or could or would it just is. Smart children don’t care about what it looks like or what they should be doing, they are confident in their choices because they are being smart for themselves. Smart isn’t always the same for all of us. That is how it should be. Smart for me isn’t smart for you.
Smart for my daughter isn’t smart for my son. They are different, different souls, different hearts, and different brains.
We are happy to be along for the ride of our Smart but NOT responsible children, don’t you want to be?
Thank you for the images John.