A Letter to My Children About the “Good Life”

I love you dearly. As a parent, I want “to give you a good life.” But you may need me to define what I mean by that.

A good life doesn’t necessarily include lots of material things. It may, it can, but things don’t define a good life.

When a parent says things like, “I want to give my children things I didn’t have” and then proceeds to overwork themselves so they can pay for lots of stuff for their children, that’s not really a good life. That’s a substitute.

In my attempt to give you a good life, I mean my first priority will be to make myself as available to you as possible–regardless of whether that allows me to give you lots of stuff. I want us to spend time together, talk a lot, read together, play together and figure things out together.

Because above everything else that will ensure you have a good life, you will need to learn wisdom for how to live. Wisdom that is from above is what will give you the foundation of a good life. To get wisdom, you must spend the majority of your time with those wiser than you.

My main goal is not to make sure you have the latest I-phone. (If it becomes necessary, I’ll consider it. But the gadgets you own have nothing to do with your quality of life, your happiness, and you are certainly not entitled to them.)

Whether or not you get to play on a sport’s team is also irrelevant. It’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing, specifically, just irrelevant to the good life.

I’ve heard parents say that they want to shield their children from hard work because they worked hard when they were young and they wanted to “give their children something better.” I disagree with this definition of “better.” You need to know, upfront, that I will be working hard to instill  in you the importance of working hard. Anything else would be robbing you of some of your good life.

Dating, as in the recreational sense of young people “falling in love” before they are ready to even consider marriage is unwise, at best, and will certainly not be an activity I expect you to be familiar with. Thankfully, you can already see the pitfalls of it, and you understand how far ahead you’ll be not wasting your young years pining away from some gal or guy who will barely be a distant memory one day. There are so many better things to do while you’re young.

As your parents, we’ll buy you stuff from time to time–gifts because we love you. But we will not mortgage the house to buy your love. We’ll teach you how to make and save money so that you can buy big things like cars, tuition, etc. We will not foolishly raise you to think that one is entitled to get what one wants whenever he wants it. This kind of raising breeds children who grow up to be in bondage to debt. We love you; we will do everything we can to help you learn about delayed gratification.

In fact, it is only in the absence of stuff, that it becomes easier to see other, more meaningful opportunities, find outlets for creativity and become productive, useful and fulfilled in society. That’s our desire for you.

I will pray for you, pray with you and immerse you in the teaching of our Lord. I will teach you each day, whatever I have to do, to love Him and fear Him, and in Him to “live and move and have your being”…for that is where you will find the good life.

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31 Responses to “A Letter to My Children About the “Good Life””

  1. Bobbiann says:

    What a lovely post!

  2. Yes and yes! I am so with you on this one. And we do live a good life – even if we sometimes have to remind our children that it’s so.

  3. laura says:

    A thought I had sitting in church a few weeks ago…you can’t really be “bored to the glory of God…” It just doesn’t compute…and I don’t mean a restful, just relaxing, stare at the clouds, kind of bored, but a whiney, “I’m BOOORRRED!” sort of bored…So, thinking along those lines, I’d say, it’s sin…

  4. 6 arrows says:

    I’ve heard that one before, too: “…parents say that they want to shield their children from hard work because they worked hard when they were young and they wanted to “give their children something better”.

    I cringe when I hear Christian parents say that. It flies in the face of Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

    It seems too many people these days have stopped viewing childhood as a training ground for adulthood, and instead have made it a separate entity meant largely for entertainment and leisure: “Aw, let them have fun; they’ll have plenty of hard work and responsibilities later. Just let them be kids before all the drudgery begins…”, etc.

    And then we wonder why there are so many 20-somethings, 30-somethings (I hate to keep going, but I know I could) who don’t seem to have ever grown up into those adult responsibilities that ultimately satisfy and make for a good, productive life. If they never had to work hard in their youth, what makes anyone think that suddenly they will stop wasting their time on, as you put it, Kelly, “frivolous, harmful pursuits”? You can step into just about any workplace these days and see the fruit of that “I want something better” philosophy in too many of the employees. My husband and adult children see this sort of thing all the time where they work. It’s sad.

    Thankfully, there are solutions, and you’ve outlined a lot of good points, Kelly. I think you’re right that the absence of “stuff” makes it easier to have a vision for what’s meaningful in life, and gives one the desire to do those things that are useful. I liked this post! It was a good slap on the back of the shoulder, a great “Go do it!” 🙂

  5. Laura says:

    Do your children do any activities outside the home like sports, music lessons, art classes, ballet, etc…?

    The only thing I disagree with is sports being irrelevant. I believe all children should play on a sports team, if they can. You learn so much from it. It is good exercise first and foremost, learning to corporate with a variety of people, learning strategy, learning to be both a good winner and loser, learning about being a team player, learning leadership skills, etc.. The list really goes on and on. Meeting and interacting with different people is so important, it is kind of your first networking opportunity and many of those friendships last. Of course it isn’t possible for everyone and you can learn those skills elsewhere, but there is no better way.

    • Word Warrior says:

      My children do have some activities..music lessons right now is the primary thing and we’ve done art lessons too. You’ve got to hear the post….none of those things are necessary for a good life. They can enhance a child’s experience, yes, and we all strive to give our children good experiences. But some parents believe these things are so necessary to their children’s lives that they sacrifice the REAL things that matter.

      Plenty (more so than not) people have grown up without these experiences and still experienced a good life.

    • Katy says:

      I agree that sports is a fun and good way to learn those lessons. But I have to disagree there is no better way. God’s word leading you in your life, guiding you daily as you walk with Him in the world around others, your family, your church, and your friends will teach you all of those lessons much better and in a longer lasting way as you can walk with Him in those types of relationships (work, personal, educational, etc) all your life until you pass on to His arms while sports is fleeting and eventually ends and is very often turned into more competition than anything else as you get into the older teams.

      • Laura says:

        Church is not going to give you the diversity of people a city sports team will though. Learning to work with people from every walk of life is important in the work place. I work 2 jobs, server at a restaurant and clerk at a car dealership. Not only do I need to work with all types of people, I also need to be somewhat aggressive. Participating in sports is a building block of that.

        Of course to live you do not need sports as a child, but I think it is as important as any subject in school. You don’t need to learn to math to live, but is pretty important.

        • Word Warrior says:

          Laura,

          I think the point of “sports or not” is getting completely lost. There are hundreds/thousands of things in life that are “good” but not necessary for a good life. The post was emphasizing the common practice of parents thinking “my child HAS to play a sport or he will be deprived!” which is simply not true.

          Also, you mentioned the importance of diversity and gave your experience as a waiter as an example. While diversity is fine and like sports, there are a thousand ways to find it (simply leaving home exposes one to diversity), one’s personal experience doesn’t make it a good example. I worked as a waiter for years and it was THE most destructive environment I’ve been in and I would never suggest it as a “good” or necessary experience.

          • Laura says:

            Being a server means being around people that do not share my values. And it is not a good environment. I will agree a 10000% with you here.

            But, in life, you might have to do hard things to pay the bills. If you can do what you set out to do (make money), you have won. And it might not be easy. And if you have competed in sports as part of childhood that prepared you for the real-world, then you just might make it. You make even find a way to flourish.

            But if you turn around saying you don’t like the environment, then you lose.

          • Jasmine says:

            I agree the 4 months I worked as a server in high school was THE most destructive time of my upbringing

        • Katy says:

          I agree that church gives a less diverse group than possibly a sports team, but those are not your only two options. Children are in the world daily, sport team or not. There is diversity in my homeschool group, in our church (we have quite a diverse group there, you would be surprised), in our families, our friends, and in our general life. Sports can definitely add a good teaching opportunity in life. But it’s far from the only thing that will and is not the best. It’s one good way to teach certain lessons.

          But, I agree, it’s about the good life, which sports do not create. So I will back down from the conversation.

    • Charity says:

      Why not play “sports” with some friends who have children similar ages of yours? You could organize teams and everything. Or, if you have enough children, play sports in your own yard. 🙂

  6. tammy says:

    Life is about relationships, not about stuff. Stuff clutters, cost money, and distracts, all that takes away from relationship. I love this post Kelly, thank you. ps ~stuff in and of itself is not sin, it is we who sin with the stuff. Does that make sense??

  7. Katy says:

    I so agree. Stuff doesn’t equal a good life. In fact, it often equals a distracted, worldly, and too busy for the truly important things life. I am not saying have no stuff. Goodness, we give our children things. This week we are signing them up for soccer. They are so excited. But if they don’t have a “good life” without soccer, soccer won’t give them one or help them to have one. Their toys don’t help, their clothing, their fun times with friends, none of it. If you don’t have the main thing, nothing will give it to you no matter how much stuff you have. It’s a great reminder and a great motivator.

  8. Natalie says:

    I just love you Kelly! 🙂

  9. Charity says:

    Thank you for this excellent post!

    We definitely want to give our children things that we didn’t have growing up. But for us, those things aren’t things at all. We want to give our children our time and teach them many things we weren’t taught…many of the things you listed, and more. One thing we have done recently is move. We moved the week of Christmas (I know, crazy) out into the country. This has been a dream of ours for a while and was a huge answer to prayer to find a place for rent that suited us so well. (We hope one day to build a place of our own, but my husband’s job is one that transfers quite a bit, so we didnt feel it was the time to pursue buying/building.) We’re on 3.5 acres now, 30 minutes from the nearest anything, really, and saving $400 a month on our rent!! There are oppertunities here to teach our children (and learn ourselves) about growing/raising own food, building things, and just good, hard work in general. There’s just something about being away from the crowds and rush of life and enjoying the simple things like feeding the chickens with the children and gathering eggs and planning where the gardens will be, repairing the broken down fence….the simple ness of being together, working together that is so rich and fulfilling. And as crazy as it sounds, this move is a step inthe direction of bringing my husband home, as in not working a full time, long hours job. It’s something the Lord laid on our hearts awhile back that we are still praying about, but seeing the Lord open doors in that direction. I’m rambling and probably not making much sense. It’s hard to put into words what I’m trying to say and I clearly don’t have the gift or writing that Kelly does, but what I’m trying to say is that we want to give our children us. And that’s awfully hard when my husband goes for days without even seeing them, working such long hours.

    Great post Kelly. I feel even more determined now, to, as my husband says, plow harder.

    • Katy says:

      Wow, Charity. We made a very similar move 2 years ago. We did it 3 days before my husband’s birthday which is 1 day before Christmas. It was 1 day after my sweet father-in-law passed away. It was planned before he passed, but it happened suddenly. It was crazy, emotional, and wild. But, it was the best thing we ever did. We have 40 acres, live on the family’s 400 acres (so we have 400 at our disposal), are 30 minutes from anything with exception of a gas station (tiny, can’t pay at the pump even). But, we live where neighbors come running without being asked if they sense you need help, where people sit around at the gas station and talk when someone they know walks up, where everyone smiles at you, where people wave as you drive down the road (dirt road that is), and where you walk into church and every one smiles, is so happy you are there, and can’t wait to hug your neck. It’s not perfect, no place is. But it’s been awesome for our kids and has drawn us so much closer to God and each other. We work harder than we ever have before, and I think that’s helped a lot, but we have slowed down and really started to listen to God, to each other, and to the world around us. It’s a beautiful thing.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Yup, sometimes hard things are necessary for kids. Like rabies shots, which I had to get thirteen of last night for getting nipped by a friendly raccoon who’d been batting at my hand (six of those shots were in my index fnger, which swelled up. Thank God I never knew all that hell would happen while I was waiting in the hospital to be seen). Mom insisted I get vaccinated out of concern, and I got vaccinated for my sake as well as the raccoon’s, who I couldn’t bear to have killed and tested just so I might avoid getting those shots (I’d spent a lot of time around her and she’s very dear; now that was sacrifice!) I hope to heaven none of my children ever ned that!

  11. laura says:

    I disagree that sports are all that important…I mean look at how many professional athletes are SOOOOO corrupt…NOT people I’d want my kids to look up to. As far as exercise goes, honestly, power walking is probably better than standing out in left field waiting for a ball to come to you…walking and bicycling are probably the best kind of exercise and that can happen for almost free:) As far as church being less diverse?? Perhaps, but SO IS public school…in the sense that kids are with peers…my kids are comfortable around babies AND old people and everyone in between…

    • Laura says:

      The professional athletics that are troubled make the news but many more do just fine. In fact many give money and time considerably to charity. And many are a great example of how to live. The few you see in the media do not reflect everyone. Power-walking is great, but it does nothing for your upper-body. Public schools are racially, religiously, and social-economical, culturally diverse than Church. So if you feel you get the age range there that is good, but something will be missing if the only place you go. You don’t want your kids to play baseball. OK. How about soccer, lacrosse, tennis, swimming, basketball, etc..?

  12. Laura says:

    *Public schools are racially, religiously,social-economic, and culturally MORE diverse than Church.

    • Katy says:

      Of course diversity isn’t just something you do willy nilly. Children shouldn’t be thrown into the world and made to swim when you have even taught them how to put their heads under the water or to float. Diversity is very over rated by many. We should teach our children how to work with people. But if they can work with people in general, they can work with all. You teach children how to love people, care for them, have compassion for them, how to serve them, and how to show them God’s plan for life and they will be fine, even if their experiences of types of people is limited. If the lessons are solid in their lives, the people they meet won’t matter because they will love, serve, have empathy and compassion for, and share with all, no matter what. God leading their lives is the most important thing there is and it’s the only way to have the “good life”. If you give them that, diversity won’t matter much because they will love all.

    • Bethany Hudson says:

      Laura, that absolutely depends on where you live, for one thing. Some regions (and therefore their corresponding schools) are exceedingly homogenous. Our homeschool co-op is far more culturally diverse (racially, religiously, economically) than our local public schools. It is one of the many blessings of participating there. Also, I think your view of sports is a bit inflated. I never played a team sport. I found my diversity in the arts world, as well as plenty of team building and “grit.”

  13. Jasmine says:

    I love this, thank you

  14. Kelly L says:

    Love this post. It is a great reminder and encouragement.

  15. […] A Letter to My Children about the Good Life (From Generation Cedar) […]

  16. kimberly says:

    Love this post! My husband and I were just discussing, last night, how we want to live this out.

  17. Leia Bredow says:

    There appears to be a problem downloading the .mp3 audio file, when I try to play on the website it says “file not found” and the audio download does not work either. The video seems to be fine, I am going to watch it instead.

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