As parents we pour a great deal of time, effort, and money into making sure our children have everything they need to grow up and live meaningful, successful lives. As we do that, we may wonder what we should focus on the most. What will help best prepare them for a life on their own?
There’s a lot that goes into that, of course, but if you had to boil it down to a handful of very practical things you can do right now to help your child succeed later on in life, here are six ideas to consider.
Pray for their vocation starting now
From the time your child is born, you can begin praying for their vocation. Will God call them to marriage, single life, religious life, priesthood? Your prayers can help them be open to hearing the Lord’s voice as they grow up. And if your child is eventually called to the sacrament of marriage, it doesn’t hurt to start praying for their future spouse. Wouldn’t it be neat to one day say to your new daughter-or-son-in-law, “I’ve been praying for you for many years … long before I knew you.”
Teach them basic finances
In the midst of encouraging our children’s academic studies, we can forget some of the more practical skills that can set our kids up for success. Basic finances is one of them. Knowing how to budget, plan, save, invest, and spend wisely is one the best things you can equip your kids with, starting when they’re young and then especially when they are teens. There are online courses, books, and seminars that can help.
Take plenty of photos and videos — with you in them!
You’ve probably taken a million photos and videos of your little ones, but how many have you in them? It may not seem like a big deal, but when your kids are grown up and you’re older and eventually not here anymore, your adult children will cherish every photo you have together (and so will you!). They want to see mom and dad in their childhood memories. So make sure you get in front of that camera more often!
Model and teach common courtesy and manners
Please, thank you, I’m sorry, excuse me … still go a very long way. Our children should grow up knowing how to write a thank you note and a sympathy card. They should know how to greet strangers, show respect for others, and notice the needs of those more vulnerable around them. They should know how to use their electronic devices around others, and how to treat those who are more vulnerable among us. Our kids will be more successful and stand out among their peers if basic courtesy and manners are part of their everyday lives.
Have them memorize all the basic prayers
We may tend to think rote prayers are a little formal, antiquated, and not important to emphasize as our kids are growing up. But the traditional prayers ground our faith, unite us together with the rest of the Church, and give us words when we may not have them. When your child grows up and goes through hardships, finds themself wandering back to confession, or travels to other parts of the world, the basic prayers they learned as a child will be a lifeline and provide a connection to the faith of their baptism.
Model and encourage healthy habits
This one may go without saying, but all the lifestyle habits you yourself practice, and those you encourage in the daily life of your family, will stay with your child in their adult years — especially when they have children of their own. If your child sees you prioritize being active, getting outdoors, serving nutritious meals, and observing Sundays as true days of rest, these are all habits they will lean heavily on as adults.