If you have kids, are around kids, or vaguely recall seeing a lot of really short people running around, then you have inevitably heard a child ask their parents, “Why?”
As the father of a three year old, I hear this more times than I can count.
This inquisitive nature is not exclusive to three-years-olds, however. This “why” mentality is something we all deal with on a daily basis.
As parents, it is imperative that we teach our children the difference between right and wrong. We want them to know what things are culturally acceptable and what things are frowned upon.
Parenting, in my opinion, is a lot like golf. If you have ever watched it on television, it looks incredibly easy. It is only when you decide to play for yourself that you discover it is quite the opposite. Everything you thought you had learned by watching the pros goes out the window.
While I am not a golfer, I know that the object is to get your ball into a hole, but not just any hole. If you tee off on hole number two, you must get your ball into the cup on the second green.
Parenting is similar in that we have a particular direction in which we are aiming. It doesn’t matter whether you realize it or not; you are aiming your children towards something. Just as the golfer intentionally moves his ball towards the green, we are prodding our kids towards something.
In which direction should we be prodding our children?
I was recently listening to Andy Andrews discuss how he had overheard parents say that they were doing the best they could to raise good kids.
My question was the same as his. Is raising good kids really the goal?
The answer, in short, was no.
Raising good kids is a waste of time.
Having good kids should be a byproduct of raising great adults.
We must be careful that we do not simply tell our kids what to do. If we want to raise great adults we have to put in a little more effort that just saying, “Don’t do that because I said so.” With every instruction we give, there is the opportunity to help our children understand our thinking and the benefit to them in obeying us.
The “why” is important. The “why”, in my opinion, is the key to raising a great adult.
At some point, your children will be old enough to make their own decisions. Their choices will be beyond your control. If all we ever told them was to obey because we said so, then once they become too old to discipline, your plan becomes useless.
As parents, we should focus more on teaching our kids how to think instead of what to think. We must be careful not to insist on a pattern of behavior without first explaining the reasons behind our insistence.
This does not mean that you must stop and explain every decision and choice that you make with your children, but if the goal truly is to “raise up a child in the way he should go” then we must focus more on teaching them how to think instead of telling them what to think.
What do you think? Is the “why” really that important? Have you seen a difference between raising good kids and great adults?