If you’re not a parent, please read this blog anyway because I think you’re going to get a lot out of it. Several times over the years my wife and I asked ourselves “What is the single most important thing that you can teach your children?”.
Of course, parenting is a highly personal topic so the answer to that question depends on a lot of things. Depends on your overall sense of life, your personal philosophy, your personal parenting style.
Our goal as parents is to nurture self-independence seeking, joyful, strong, and courageous children. Those are the 4 attributes that we’ve identified as the most important to navigating life successfully. But if we were asked to choose between those traits — to choose the most important one to us, it would be self-independence.
You must understand that self-independence is the primary virtue that we can instill in our children because being a successful parent isn’t about teaching something. It’s about making sure that your kids can function in your absence and that they can function successfully without you.
That’s your big mission and doesn’t just apply to humans. It applies to all creatures whether you’re a goose, wolf, or basically any organism on this Earth. If you do this right, you may save some time in the future to get along with your hobbies rather than looking after them for every single task they do.
What A Good Parent Should Do?
Parenting is a race to get your kids ready for life before something eats them. We have to teach them how to pave their own path.
As a parent, help them become autonomous. That’s our number one job — to get them to the stage where they can function successfully in our absence and the sooner the better.
Sometimes, it is emotionally difficult to give them a little more freedom. Every single year, you need to let them make their own choices, let them make their own mistakes, and constantly correct them. Create a habit for them to jump in and solve all their problems.
But at the end of the day, from a universal perspective, your primary goal as parents is to make sure that your children possess the competence to cope with the challenges of life when we’re not there to guide them.
We’ve got to help them become self-sufficient. Equip them with the skills and the tools they need to navigate through their lives. In this way, they see fit to develop a sense of efficacy and to learn to trust themselves to make moral decisions for their own lives.
Something the vast majority of people don’t even get is- children and adults are alike. It is a simple but profound concept.
You are the author of your own life.
You have the freedom in life to make your own decisions and your own choices
How Do I Teach My Child Self-Independence?
“Your life is a consequence of your daily choices and actions. What you do with the minutes, hours and the days of your life dictates who you are and what kind of life you have.”
That’s the most important thing you can teach your kids. It is not complicated and trust me, kids get it.
- If you make wonderful choices with your diet and exercise, you’re going to be physically healthy and if you don’t, you won’t.
2. If you make wonderful choices with your money, you’re going to be financially wealthy and if you don’t, you won’t.
3. If you choose the right friendship, you can succeed. Choose who to spend time with and that choice can make a big difference in your life.
4. Choose the books you’re going to read.
5. The TV shows you’re going to watch.
6. The video games you’re going to play.
7. The way you treat people.
8. Choose what to focus on in life.
Helping your kids become autonomous doesn’t mean that you don’t put a lot of effort into guiding. You can’t let them in life’s stampede — live without rules and just do whatever they want — they’ve got a lot of rules. Make them understand they own their lives and we own our lives. But this is your house, and as long as your children live in your house, they live by your rules.
Self-Independence also doesn’t mean that we are going to drive them toward adulthood too soon and force the heavyweight of being a grownup. Responsibility too early in life is hard for any human being. So, we want to let them be kids.
You let them enjoy the wonders of childhood, which is a magical period and never repeats itself. Let them be carefree, silly, and happy.
We’re just temporarily in charge of them, helping to learn, grow and become responsible citizens so that someday they can create their own extraordinary life.
Ultimately, they can choose to live anywhere they want, choose to do anything, choose to be any kind of person who they decide to be. Teach them to shape life in any way and most successful people deeply understand this concept that people who were no smarter than us made everything around us that we call “life”.
Unsuccessful people don’t understand that concept. Nurture the concept of decision-making slowly over time. That’s the place where I struggled when I was a teenager, but slowly I paced.
A Child needs to be the one who opposed to just blindly accept someone else’s model they look at in life and whatever it may be, they decide does this work for me or does this won’t work for me.
The answer might be “yes, that’s exceptional,” “I love that idea, I love that strategy, I love that best practice, the way of doing things that makes perfect sense to me so I’m going to adopt that in my own life or the answer might “This make no frigging sense to me at all, I’m not doing it. I don’t care if everybody else does it that way, but it doesn’t work for me. So, I’m going to figure out a better way for myself”.
That is the self-independence seeking autonomous mindset. It is also the success mindset.
I’m going to give you a concrete example of this mission.
I’ve lived in various parts of the world with my kids and wife for 3 to 4 months. Every Winter, we take them out of public school and live in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, or Africa.
This lifestyle is obviously not the norm for most people — can’t even digest doing such a thing. It’s downright scandalous to some people. We don’t care; we don’t need anyone’s permission; we don’t respect anyone’s right to stop us or slow us down.
This is how we choose to live our lives. We know it is different, but it makes complete sense to us. Our kids have experienced the jungles, river beds, old long-tail boats. They’ve lived in the shadows of the great pyramids, they’ve taken a bath in a bucket in Thailand and India.
They fell asleep while watching the twinkling lights of the Eiffel tower, played around the ancient ruins of Greece, experienced deeply Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim cultures.
Sometimes they get a little behind on their normal school work like math or reading, but they can tell you the name of the Royal family of Saudi Arabia. They know how to handle the night markets, and how to spend money consciously on a vacation, how to manage time for everything.
Besides that, they can show you where Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia are on a map because they’ve lived there. I know that living this way is not for everyone, but it is the life we choose to live and we love it.
Now whenever this subject comes up in conversation like at a dinner party, we get the most astonished looks from other parents. Hilarious! They’re simply dumbfounded like we’ve pulled off the most difficult feat imaginable — like we’ve invented penicillin or corona vaccine. It is always like how can you do that!
Some schools won’t even allow parents to take an extra 2-week vacation and I just think to myself in my mind, “Hold on a second. They won’t allow it? They are my kids and when did some public school become my dictator? When did it become a problem for grown adults to take their kids where they want and when they want?”
Nothing’s more significant to us as parents than our children. That’s just one example out of thousands of how we let other people’s rules stop us daily. How we accept other people’s values without even questioning them, how we let everyone take over our lives and dictate the direction that our lives will go.
I’ll tell you how we solved it. This is how we take our kids out of public school for 3 months out of the year.
My wife walked into the principal’s office and she says this winter, we’re going to live in Australia for 3 months.
She’s not aggressive or argumentative or pushy. We just decided to do this and we’re going. The discussion isn’t around “whether or not”. It is more like — we’re going to do it and we just want you to know that.
Kids just return radiating the confidence that they are in total control of their own existence which is what we want for our kids. People are so not used to seeing healthy, self-independence seeking, self-directed behavior from other human beings, and they will naturally move out of your way and leave to accomplish your goals.
Most people are sleepwalking through their existence — simply going through the motions of life like they’re in a trance, letting other people write their story. It is so rare to see someone who knows exactly who they are, what they want, and why.
Being an autonomous person in this world is inspiring because it is rare.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it almost 160 years ago-
So, become the best decision-maker that you can possibly be. Not for us, but for you.
Be your own person, create your own life in your own way. Believe in yourself as we believe in you. Trust yourself, learn to rely on your own intelligence, which is your only guide to the truth.
If you discover who you are and what you want out of life, nurture the best that’s inside of you and develop yourself. Have the courage to stand up for your true self and be who you are. Advance confidently toward your dreams to live the life that you have imagined. I can promise you, you’re going to meet with success during unexpected times.
Productive Homework For Parents (Save Time Passively)
Teach your children 2 to 3 core values you want to live your life by. This is a hugely powerful exercise that changed our lives. Define what those values mean to you.
- Might be kindness, courage, self-responsibility, or respect that is most important to you.
- Just write a few sentences for each of the values you choose.
- I’d like you to start thinking about how you can bring these values to life and how to take action on these values today.
Make small daily shifts in your kid’s direction and begin to extol these values into your children by leaving an example. Invest some time in them and receive the doubled profit.
Next, I will discuss the impact of social life on productivity and how to handle friends and family wisely.