Parenting Teens: Goal setting, reality vs expectation

GoalsI will be composing a series of 7 posts about parenting for a class that I am taking. These posts may or may not be of interest to those outside of the course. 
Week 6

When our kids were little, most of us parents would envision who we thought our children would grow up to be. Without meaning to, we picture them in various roles, behaving in certain behaviors, even holding particular jobs.

Over time, our children grow and develop their own personalities, which many times includes behaviors or interests that their parents may not have anticipated.

As we look to the future with our kids, we all want them to be successful. It is important for parents to be able to explain a clear definition of what success is. Without a clearly defined goal, our kids (and even us as adults) will find themselves in world surrounded by discontent. The danger is for them to not recognize success, or take pleasure in it when it is attained.

Several years ago, I began talking to my children about framing the life that they wished to live.

What I mean by that, is that if they choose to live in a downtown walk-up apartment, then they will need to hold a position or find a way to make enough money to support that lifestyle.

On the other end of the scale, if they choose to live in a million dollar mansion overlooking the ocean, then they will need to hold a position or find a way to make enough money to support that lifestyle.

Either of these are perfectly acceptable goals to set.

Many times we tend to encourage our kids to set goals based on monetary gains, and not on emotional and mental happiness.

We ask kids what they want to BE when they grow up, and mean where they want to be EMPLOYED. Their jobs to not define who they ARE as people, they do that themselves.

It is important to make sure that they are aware and understand that as long as they are good people, who treat other kindly, and leave the world better than they entered it, the amount in their bank account is irrelevant.

These are the goals we need to be encouraging.

Be kind, seek joy, be content.


  1. Mary,
    I like your insight. I am a mother to two 16 year old boys and a 12 year old who thinks he is 16. One of the biggest challenges for me on the daily is getting them to take anything seriously. I think teaching our kids to be realistic about their goals and what they need to think about as far how how to obtain them is crucial to perceived success.

    I like your “about me” section at the bottom of the page as well. Personable touch. 🙂


    • I agree whole heartedly. We live in this world where our kids watch so many people living these extravagant lifestyles, with zero concept of what it takes to obtain that. Additionally, they start to believe that is you are not living that life, then you are failing instead of finding the joy in where they are.


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