All parents have dreams and aspirations for their children.
Where we are, it almost seems deliberately counter-cultural to talk about aspiring towards character qualities instead of tangible, material goals and achievements.
What good is it to have values but a meagre income? Of what use is an upright character as compared to a fat paycheck? Get your As, get your economically-viable degree, then we can talk about dreams (read: hobbies) or developing character. We are Singaporeans. ‘Practical’ and ‘realistic’ are our middle names (though in recent times these buzzwords seem to have been replaced by the very annoying ‘cautiously optimistic’ term).
Surely these are misplaced notions of what the important big stones to fill one’s life jar with? A fat paycheck may attract (the wrong kind of) babes, but without integrity (not saying that both are always mutually exclusive, but rich man and camel’s eye you know) what kind of life will one eventually have? What is it to gain the whole world but to lose your soul?
Lest I be labeled a hypocritical hippie-wannabe, I must confess that I took the path well-travelled. One would be hard-pressed to find more standard steps towards a stable job.
But what do I deem truly important, for my children? Do they necessarily have to prioritise a ‘good job’ above most other things?
Well, I hope to consciously parent such that they plonk in the big stones that are truly important, first. Here are my ‘big stones’.
1. I hope that they grow up to love our Lord and seek His glory in all that they do.
Because apart from this, life has no meaning, no purpose, no lasting joy.
2. I hope that they embody integrity.
That means standing up for what is right, even when (especially when, perhaps) it does not make you popular. It means speaking the truth to power (which in better moments is what I feel my job is all about), politely but unequivocally.
3. I hope that they exhibit a strong sense of compassion.
For the hurting, for the lost. Suffering is endemic to our fallen world, and every starfish is worth the fling (back into the sea, what were you thinking?). We are blessed with so much, no matter how little it seems in this chronically materialistic society. I hope they are generous with whatever little they have, for it is in giving that the soul is enriched.
What character qualities do you hope to nurture in your children? What values do you hope their lives will be imbued with?