This is Part 4 of a 5 part series. To see the whole series, read the introductory post.
The best analogy I ever heard for raising children was a journey from a dictatorship to a democracy in a single lifetime. But really, it's more than that. Yes, we want to teach them to be successful and to take responsibility for themselves in the world. We want our children to be independant and happy. But we don't want them to be successful gangsters or wildly wealthy profiteers. We want them to develop a sense of purpose and stewardship for the world they live in, and that is much harder.
We work very actively on our life and our lifestyle. We never assume that to live is to work 9-5, 5 days a week. We use our curiosity to experiment with every aspect of our lives; to find the best balance of all the things we want to be abundant in. But the key to it all is curiosity. We foster curiosity and ingenuity and exploration and perpendicular thought, in ourselves and in our kids. This is difficult when they're testing the bounds of decorum we've set within the family, and while that particular topic of exploration is always hard, I have to always remember to applaud the curiosity.
But our time on this planet is about more than us. If we don't leave the world a little better for our having been here, I'd have to consider that life a failure. I want to teach my kids to become stewards of the world we live in. I want my kids to know that the world isn't perfect and that there is a lot each of us can do to make it better. I want my children to find the thing that they are passionate about improving and to commit themselves to solving that problem with every fiber of their being. And most importantly, I want them to know how to find those inconsistencies so that they can continue to find and fix them throughout their life.
In the end, you can't find the flaws or focus on the solutions without a deep familiarity. In teaching curiosity, in travelling, in fostering a sense of investigation, we give our kids (and us) an ever increasing sense of familiarity with the world around us. Only through that can we hope that they will take up the mantle of steward and leave the world a better place in small and big ways when they move on. In part, I look at the process of raising new stewards to be a part of my role in making the world a better place. In the end, explore, become familiar and make it better. I believe that's fundamentally why we're here.