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Raising kids who are great and great to others

Raising kids who are great and great to others

I remember that moment when the doctor laid my firstborn son in my arms, and through my tears of joy (and gratitude for epidurals), I whispered, “Lord, he’s perfect, please don’t let me mess this up!” For the last couple of decades, I’ve been whispering that same prayer every single day. Parenting can be tricky work, and we may do things differently, but we really all have the same goal: to raise kids who are great humans and faithful disciples of Jesus. The culture we’re parenting in often works against that goal, so here are some ideas for raising kids who are both great and great to others.

The sky is not the limit. Our kids need to understand the concept of enough instead of every-thing.

Special is great. Our kids need to know they are special because they were perfectly created in the image and likeness of God – and so are the rest of God’s children. Sometimes, we compare our kids to others and we use words like exceptional, outstanding and prodigy. The greatest measure of “specialness” is when we humbly use the gifts God gave us to serve him.

Obedience is a requirement for heaven. We learn obedience by following rules, not bending them. Pope St. John XXIII taught that without obedience, there is no peace. In this crazy world, peace is a great gift to give our children, and obedience begins with doing chores and turning in homework without excuses and exemptions.

Earned trumps given. We appreciate the things we work for and earn. My grandpa owned a tiny grocery store and the counter was lined with glass jars of candy. He loved to give each of us a piece of candy when we came to visit him at the store, but he always had a small task for us to do first, like straightening all the bills in the cash register so they faced the same direction, before we climbed up on the counter to make our choice. Earning something builds a sense of true pride and accomplishment.