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Parents’ goals for their children: A study

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There are certain things that we all want for our kids. Generally speaking, they are the same things we want for ourselves: health and happiness, right? Oh, and eventually enough money in the bank to pay for health and happiness. From there, the individual parent’s list of wants either grows a little or becomes something that rivals The Polar Circle Marathon in regard to length and degree of difficulty.

Number one on my mother’s list of goals was to make sure her children were respectful to their elders. When we were given a directive by my father, we were taught to call him “sir��? when replying. “Yes, sir.��? “No, sir.��? “Ten-four copy that, sir.��? We acknowledged every adult that came into our home and then quietly left them to their business. When visiting other homes, we greeted every adult with a handshake or hug, a “How do you do?��? or a “¿Como esta?��? Number two on her wish list was that THE CHILDREN WASH THEIR DISHES.

My father’s goal was to make sure we knew how to use reference books. This was back in the dark ages before the Internet. So our house was filled with encyclopedias, English dictionaries, Spanish dictionaries, map books, quote books, how to use shorthand books. I remember there was this library contest back when I was probably in the fifth grade wherein dinosaurs were on posters plastered all over the place. “Where is the thesaurus?!��? they asked in big letters. Pfft. Our family had a small family of THESAURUSES… in several languages. His second goal in regard to his children? THAT THEY EAT ALL THEIR FOOD.

My husband thinks it’s important that our children learn how to problem solve. So when our two youngest are arguing over whether to watch The Backyardigans or Dragon Tales, it’s rare that he’ll interfere. “Let them work it out��? is his motto. It’s only when someone raises a toy above their head and their facial expression turns from miffed to ENRAGED that he plays mediator/disciplinarian. Which is more often than we’d like, but not as often as you’d think. His secondary goal? THAT THEY TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES WHEN ENTERING THE HOUSE.

My goal? I want my kids to keep an open mind. It’s hard not to form an immediate opinion of someone based on their behavior or clothing or weird habit of growling when you say the words “Green Bay.��? I want my kids to chuck the labels. Yes, my mother is a stickler when it comes to dirty dishes in the sink. She can be anal. So what? She’s also nurturing and patient and great at making empanadas. Yes, grandpa is going to be hurt if you don’t try his chile con carne. But if you ever find yourself needing to figure out how to spell a word like brummagem, he’s THERE so say, “Look it up.��? Number two on my list? Anyone who reads me halfway regularly already knows this one: RECYCLE, RECYCLE, RECYCLE, DANG IT.

So what about you? What do you want your children to pass on to their children?

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