The idea of having a big family has always been particularly attractive to me. Four kids seems like an ideal number for now, but I 100% reserve the right to change my mind on that after popping the first one out 😂
I've spent a lot of time thinking about what kinds of values I'd want to instill, and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on some of the conclusions I've come to:
1. Early exposure to alcohol.
In countries like Germany, beer and wine are allowed with parent supervision at restaurants at age 16, liquor at 18.
It's strange to me that the U.S. lets you vote and drive before you can drink. Prohibition and taboos only heighten curiosity, overindulgence, and sneaky behavior. Case in point: the story of your first drink that's coming to mind for you as you read this. And if not you, we all know that person who went completely buckwild the first time someone handed them a shot and built a reputation as that one friend for continuing to go off the rails.
I didn't start drinking until I turned 21, but if my kids want to know about alcohol, I want them to have a safe and controlled environment to explore and understand it so they can be prepared to make healthy choices as they grow.
2. Sacred dinner table.
We will enjoy sit-down dinners all together as often as possible and talk openly about what kinds of challenges we're facing, things we're excited about, and the happenings in the world around us.
My children will be welcomed into the kitchen so they can learn about cooking, helping in the grocery store, too, so they can learn about responsible shopping and health choices. I'd love for us to have game nights as well, one family member getting to play host each month, setting the menu, picking the activity, and preparing everything for the evening so we can connect and share in each others' interests.
My house will have an open door policy where my children feel encouraged to share with me honestly. Any questions or worries they have, I want them to know I'm with them and not against them.
3. Big brain energy.
I want my kids to be open-minded and to feel comfortable challenging ideas and asking questions. I plan to keep a library of informative encyclopedias, literary classics, thoughtfully-diverse bios and think pieces, and novels of different genres that will be their own little world to explore. I'll teach them about consuming digital sources discerningly and conducting independent research. If there's something we don't know, we'll look for answers together, no topic off limits.
4. Make them responsible for managing their own money.
Youth is precious, and I intend for my children to have a fun and wonderful childhood. But when they reach a certain age, getting the things they need won't just be as simple as ask-and-receive.
I'm going to be rich. Perhaps even famous. (#Manifesting babes!)
Still, my kids will need to learn how to be practical with money. They will be given a modest allowance and kept to it strictly until they are able to get jobs or paid internships, always being tasked to manage their own budgets for clothing, entertainment, and personal expenses. With close supervision, they will use their own personal credit cards. They will also be involved in the business of making major purchases. Want a new phone? Let's see how much it costs and whether or not you can afford it - because that bill is going to be in your name. Time to start driving? I won't just be giving you a car. We'll strategize together about how to finance it, talk about loans and insurance, and negotiate together so you can see the ins and outs.
We will have in depth conversations about taxes, life insurance, stocks, and real estate so they feel like they can actually make adult decisions when they start their adulthood. Because let's be honest...my mom still does my taxes for me at my big age and I have no idea where to even start when it comes to many of life's more serious demands.
5. Decide for themselves whether or not they want to go to college.
The importance of education was engrained in me at a very young age, and my student career is one of the highlights of my life. My college experience bred invaluable opportunity that I would never trade. Even still, I can recognize that college isn't for everyone. It's not the end-all be-all of what it means to be educated, nor does it measure intelligence or guarantee success. The modern economy has created numerous opportunities to establish yourself as an individual without a degree, and I want my children to have the freedom to decide for themselves how they want to lead their lives.
So let's say college by then costs $100,000/year. My children will have the option: take $400,000 from me and go to the college of your choice, or present to me a business plan, a travel or service project, or reasonable alternative for the way you might like to use the money. Hell, pocket it and go to community college so you can buy a house or property instead. Maybe split the difference and take a gap year to decide. Regardless, I'll be their own personal investor (which they'll know exactly how to handle because they'll already be money managing experts!)
6. Bring back old school skills.
Not too much fluff on this one, I just think it's necessary - all the more so as technology progresses - to master certain fundamentals that keep you in touch with your own abilities and prepare you for extenuating circumstances. Things like sewing, writing letters (and cursive penmanship), balancing a checkbook, table setting and social etiquette, and driving stick shift (unless there are spaceships or something by then).
We might also enjoy the occasional family camping trip. No phones, no tech. Pitching our own tents, taking in the natural world, and learning the basics of survival skills like fishing, fire building, navigation, and plant and earth sciences. Of course, too, they'll all know how to swim.
I know all this sounds good in theory, that some of it may well change, and that execution is completely different than ideation. I'm still up for the challenge, although the true beast may be finding a partner whose vision on all this aligns.
Does anything seem reminiscent of things your parents did for you? Things you or your parents wouldn't dream of at all? Do you believe that younger generations struggle as much with skills and character as people say they do in the media?
More on this to come.