The number one job of a parent

5 years ago
What is a parent’s job? On a day-to-day basis, parenting involves making sure your kids are safe, fed and well-loved. Some days you’re launched into survival mode as you tackle tantrums and try to get yourself and your kids out of the house on time. Other times, we see ourselves as our child’s first teacher, guiding them through practical skills like learning to read to more fantastic curiosity like how the world works. But what is our single job description?
Given all that we do for our kids, there remains no blog post (heck, no blog) that could list every duty we’ve ever performed in the name of parenthood. That’s why I’ve narrowed it down to one—our number one job as a parent is:

To raise future adults.

Imagine yourself 25 years from now, and you’re sitting across the table from your now adult daughter, who would likely be in her 20s and 30s. What kind of adult would you hope to sit across the table from? If she’s a mom, how would you hope she parents her own children?

While your child will be her own person and will define her future as she sees fit, much of who she will be stems from how you raise her now:

  • You read books at bedtime not just to establish a nightly routine but to raise an adult who will hopefully frequent the library and read for enjoyment.
  • You prepare baby food or establish family dinners not just to feed a baby but to raise a future adult who is likely to maintain a healthy relationship with food.
  • You encourage children to contribute with chores around the house not just to have extra help (because let’s face it, children and “helping with chores” can often be an oxymoron!) but to show them how to cook for and clean up after themselves when they’re older.
  • You finger paint and make crafts not just to fill your day (and Pinterest) with cute artwork, but to introduce new ways to create, imagine and problem-solve.
  • You guide kids through social conflicts with other children not just to sort through a sticky situation but to help them learn to do this for themselves when they’re adults faced with difficult situations.
  • You help your toddlers manage their tantrums not just to soothe and comfort but to teach him valuable life lessons, from realizing that not everything goes your way to learning how to calm oneself down, from expressing frustration within proper social contexts to feeling reassured that all emotions are normal.
  • You love your kids, and  they in turn grow up to become the amazing adults they’ll be.

Parenting is hard. Our duties are ever-changing and never-ending. We can’t even quit our jobs or ask to transfer to another department. And as every first-time mom can attest, learning on the job is almost always the way we’re introduced to our roles. So when you’re wondering just how many times you have to read that darn Goodnight Moon book over and over, simply remember that you’re not just raising kids—you’re raising the future adults they’ll become.

What kind of adult do you hope your children will grow to become? Which activities and values do you most try to instill so that they will continue the habit into adulthood?

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