Three Questions I Routinely Ask My Sons

Three Questions I Routinely Ask My Sons

As a parent of two boys, I want them to grow up prepared to handle life, real life.  Tough situations, failure, disappointment, being offended, and how to work hard.  Life is hard and very often, life is not fair.  How many times did we hear that from our parents?

But our children now grow up in the age of participation trophies, political correctness, and everyone is a ‘winner’.  Unfortunately, that’s not how real life works.  In an effort to ensure my children learn the necessary skills to handle real life (not the overprotective, everyone’s a winner life), the skills I hope to cultivate can be summed up in three questions that I routinely ask them.  (Okay, as you can surmise from the photo, in reality, I only ask my older one right now.  All in due time.)

Question 1: What did you do kind for someone else today?  I grew up awkward and poor.  But my parents taught me an immensely important lesson that lives on today.  They went out of their way to help anyone and everyone around them.  Regardless of our personal plight, they’d give anyone the shirt off their back.  They fought for others regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, or whatever.  The number of times we went as a family to help others in need is a life lesson that sticks with me today.

Since my sons are growing up in a much more privileged home than I did, I do not want it to be lost on them that most are not nearly so ‘lucky’.  I want them to have empathy and truly be kind.  Kindness is both a state of being and an action.  If they are actively looking for opportunities to show kindness, then they are operating in a kind state of being.  If they take action when that opportunity presents itself, then they are practicing the act of being kind.  I can think of no more important trait than to constantly show kindness.  I believe the world could use more of it.

Question 2: What did you fail at today?  I am trying to teach our children that failure is not only okay, but a surefire way to find your way to success.   The more you fail, the more you succeed.  But taking it one step further, failing helps them to stay humble and teaches them how to deal with disappointment.

I also want them to understand that it’s not the failure that matters, but their reaction to failure that will define them.  Does it make them want to work harder, explore other avenues to make it work or do they shut down?  We don’t learn nearly as much in success as failure, so it’s a far more valuable teacher that I don’t want my children to be afraid of.

Question 3: How do you think we should deal with this situation?  Whenever they are presented with a complicated situation, I want them to learn to think about all sides of the issue.  I want them to consider the feelings of others as well as other positions that can/should be considered.  So, instead of me providing the answers, I want them to learn to think critically and put logic and empathy into practice.  Learn to problem solve and handle personal conflict.

I’m quite sure that there is no silver bullet to raise our children in a way that guarantees success, but in all the reading I’ve done, these three questions seem to hit the high points of developing kindness, grit and critical thinking.  If you are raising or have raised children, I’d love to hear comments on how you develop resilient children.

One Reply to “Three Questions I Routinely Ask My Sons”

  1. Great concept but don’t expect a lot of enthusiastic answers when you have teenagers. You’ll be lucky to get a “I dunoh”.

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