Raising Happy Purposeful Children

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with one of my patients.   Her unmarried, 30-something daughter had recently moved out.  Neighbours’ tongues were wagging and criticism of the daughter was voiced since my patient is not in the best of health.  How could she possibly leave her mother at a time like this?

The truth is, Connie (not her real name) urged her daughter to get out and start living life away from her mother’s shadow.  Connie wanted daughter #2 to have a place of her own so she could have dinner parties, invite friends over, play the piano when she felt like it, learn to live on her own.  Connie’s 2 other grown children were thriving in very unusual professions and living in other cities.

I asked her how it was that her other children had so much passion for their unique careers.  Her response was wonderful.  She explained that when her kids were growing up, her main concern was that they be happy with the choices they made.  To her it didn’t matter so much what profession they chose but that they were passionate in their career and their life.  And she prayed for them.

One owns a successful health-related business.  Another is in demand as a consultant on movie sets for his expertise in a highly specialized field.  Both of them met many difficulties in pursuit of their dreams but mom’s encouragement and their sheer tenacity resolved any problems.  She pushed her youngest daughter out of the nest, better late than never, because she wanted the same for her.

Like my patient, I want the best for my children.  I want them to be happy, secure, centered on God and living a life of purpose.  While I don’t consider myself an expert on childrearing, it’s a topic that is uppermost in my mind.

I think the best way for my husband and I to help them attain all that we would like for them is through prayer, asking God to give them the gift of discernment so that they can know His will for their life and be able to discern the good from the bad.  Following God’s Will is what gives real joy through deep faith, even with life’s inevitable challenges.  Just as important as praying for them is praying with them.  If they see their parents humbling themselves before God, they will probably do the same.

The next best thing we can do is encourage and support them in their good decisions but voice our concerns over any questionable choices.  We can’t tell our grown children what to do, but we can certainly tell them what we think.  Being interested and present in their lives is necessary.  Of course, with the younger children, “no” is a love word.

Instilling in them a sense of responsibility, whether through chores, a part-time job and school work gives them a sense of purpose, commitment, independence and work ethic.  Encouraging them to do volunteer work shifts their focus away from themselves and onto others and develops an attitude of giving back.

And even though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.  Prayer.  Constant prayer for them and with them.

Deo Gratias

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11 Responses to Raising Happy Purposeful Children

  1. SR says:

    I think your kids are so blessed to have parents such as you and your husband. Somehow, I think they are going to be fine. God Bless, SR

  2. “Just as important as praying for them is praying with them. If they see their parents humbling themselves before God, they will probably do the same.”

    You have it right. Prayer and witness through your life for them.

    Powerful combination!

    • ... says:

      As a new Catholic and Catholic parent I’m just wondering how you go about this without pushing it on them. How did your parents pray with you as a child? Do you have good memories of it? Or is it like piano lessons and they dislike it now but eventually they thank you for it?

      • I don’t have a definitive answer for this. Sometimes I unintentionally push it on them and then I back off. My parents made us pray 5 decades of the Rosary every night, no matter what, and I hated it. With my family, we pray 3 decades most evenings and don’t force it on the older kids who have homework. Some kids aren’t home to pray since they have classes or part-time jobs. Some evenings we tell them to pray on their own. Sunday Mass attendance is mandatory and all the kids have been involved or are still involved in the parish as lectors, altar servers, choir members, part-time secretary. I teach First communion class in the parish. My husband does some behind-the-scenes, hidden work for our pastor. I guess what we’ve focused on is cultivating a love for the faith through home catechism, church attendance, volunteerism and friendships with and respect for clergy. I think it’s working because my adult kids sometimes attend Mass during the week while at university and go to Eucharistic Adoration. I’m not sure I answered your question, but these are just things that work for us.

      • ... says:

        You did answer it. I have been trying to figure out the best mix. As my husband is agnostic it is a little tricky but he is supportive 🙂

  3. I call it “parenting scared.” Like you, we have 8 beautiful children. I am so thankful that God can make up for our own deficiencies as parents! Prayer is absolutely necessary, if for no otehr reason than to hand your own inadequacies to the Almighty for the benefit of your children.

    We already pray for their future vocations and spouses, and we do it as a family every night before bedtime.

  4. ... says:

    Thank you for reminding me of this. I get so caught up in finding the right sport or tutor or whatever and forget that prayer is really the key. I think I was meant to read this right now! Blessings!

  5. lamehousewife says:

    Thank you for the encouragement!

  6. My son is only 9 months old, but after reading this, I realize that I don’t pray enough for him. Thank you for your post.

  7. Very well said! What I hope to do with my own children in particular to to expose them to all of the vocational paths they might choose, in addition to encouraging them to choose a career that they are passionate about. Too often, I hear people bemoaning the low vocations numbers, while they have never once exposed their sons or daughters to the religious life in any real manner.

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