It occurred to me recently that raising a child to be a good, compassionate, hardworking human being is difficult enough, but still is not the entire parenting job.

There are two more things I want for my children, and it is up to me to raise them in such a way that these become a part of them, without them even thinking about where it came from:

For them to love themselves as much as I love them, and see themselves the way others see them. This doesn't mean being arrogant, spoiled or whiny. This means expecting the best of themselves, while accepting imperfections and learning to handle the things outside their control. I want them to work hard, take care of themselves and others, and be loving human beings. I also don't want them to spend unreasonable energy feeling guilty because of their appearance or their intelligence or their feelings or whatever else they might be self-critical about. Life is just too damn short to spend it trying to be something you're not, especially when what you really are is probably a hell of a lot better than YOU think!

Everyone ought to be able to see themselves as others see them; if people look at you and think, "He is so sweet, he'd give you the shirt off his back, you can trust him with your life… what a beautiful soul," and they don't give a moment of thought to your acne or your pot belly or whatever, then you've done well, and you ought to know it. Then again, if you're an ass, and everyone around you thinks you're an ass and you don't realize it, it doesn't do you any good to live in the little fantasy that you're the only normal one and everyone else is an ass. You might as well admit that being an ass doesn't exactly win you a reliable social life — and consider trying something else.

For them to be able to ask themselves "What would my mom/dad say about this?" and know the answer without needing to ask. Before long, there'll be a time when they're faced with a decision or dealing with a situation they're not sure how to handle, and Danny and I won't be there. Maybe it'll happen on the school playground if another kid gets mean, maybe it'll happen in the future when a friend has had too much to drink and they need to swallow their pride and ask us for a ride home, maybe it'll be long after we're gone and they'll have to make a new set of choices.

If we are clear and consistent and open, hopefully they'll usually have an accurate idea of how we'd handle it, and hopefully they'd factor that into their own decision-making process. I do this already. :) It's a more "local" version of "What would Jesus do?" … "What would Mom/Dad/Mike say" It helps with all sorts of things, and I'm grateful.

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