Academics or habit training? Which will ensure long-term success for our children?
Close your eyes.
(Well, okay, don't. Keep reading instead.)
But imagine in your mind's eye the type of person you want your child to be when they are an adult.
Can you picture your relationship with them? How they will handle problems and challenges?
How will they treat others? How will they spend their day (without you there 'policing')? What will they eat? How much will they sleep? Who will they spend their time with? Doing what?
What kind of parent or spouse they will be? What kind of neighbor and friend will they be? How will the positively influence their community and the world around them?
My husband did this with a group of homeschool moms. He was presenting at a convention.
After they had the picture in their head, he made a list on the white board of all the things these moms wanted their children to be when they reached adulthood:
Caring and kind
To have grit
To be able to do hard things
Clean and organized
Efficient manager of time and energy
Mentally healthy and strong
Physically active and healthy
Helpful and serving
Ability to focus and create
Critical thinking skills
Fulfilled and living on purpose
After the board was full, my husband stopped the group and said,
"Do you notice that no one wrote, 'Be good at math' or 'Get a good score on the SAT' or even 'graduate from college'?
Now inherently, many of us do want those things for our children because we believe it will help them do or become the things on the list above.
We want them to graduate from college so that they can get a good job and provide for their family so they don't have to stress about money and THEN they can be happy.
But that is a lie. It's backwards.
Learning to be happy (or respectful or disciplined or _________) is a skill and habit all it's own INDEPENDENT OF CIRCUMSTANCES or grades or degrees.
If our children (or ourselves) develop the habit of being happy then they don't have to wait for the 'perfect' circumstances in order to experience happiness (or patience or creativity).
They don't have to wait for the new car or the job promotion or the day the kids don't fight and squabble.
They (we) can choose happiness now. Today.
And that is true with everything else on that list. TODAY we can practice at being loving or persistent. We can practice critical thinking. We can practice doing hard things.
It is through daily practice that we develop habits. And habits determine our destiny.
But many of us don't know how to do that -- how to keep practicing until we develop the habit of being something we're (currently) not.
Or we give up quickly. Or we tell ourselves, 'This is just the way I am. I can't change.'