This is the process by which you shape your child’s character, by which you produce a good citizen, someone who will make the community a better place. Everything else — grades, athletic accomplishments, artistic talents, and so on — is secondary. Raising a mathematically and musically gifted and talented child who wins a scholarship to Harvard is fine, but when all is said and done, good parenting is simply an act of love for your neighbor.
But make no mistake, no matter how well you communicate your worldview to your children, they will think for themselves, and from a very early age. They will even make decisions that will cause you to scratch your head in wonder or weep with sorrow. Parenting is an influence; it does not determine the outcome. Even the most well-parented (by whatever standard) child is capable, on any given day, of acting in ways that are completely inconsistent with his or her upbringing. That fact, if not fully accepted, can generate lots of parental frustration, lots of parental guilt, or lots of both.
As your great-grandmother put it, “Every child has a mind of his own.”
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.