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We have home-educated our children for the last eight years. Early on, I felt an overwhelming need to measure, test and push to make sure the kids were on the right path. I was teaching them everything I thought they could possibly need to know to “make it” in their life. Was slogging through years of Latin really going to make a big impact on their life? Probably not.
I have attempted to answer the same questions, over and over, year after year for my own children. Whose path is it? What do they want? What is their idea of a life well lived? Every revisit of these questions has brought me a little closer to having a better understanding of what is truly important; for me and for my kids.
Our oldest, just turned sixteen. She has explored her own definition of living a life of purpose and happiness (notice the removal of the word success). She continuously asks hard questions of herself, she’s spoken of and written down her wants, her wishes and her dreams- and these continually change, but she understands that her future is up to her. Her own influence and decisions are bringing her closer to the kind of life she imagines for herself.
For so many her age, they feel helpless about their future. We must allow kids to imagine and have experiences that help them to define their own meaning of purpose and happiness and engage in conversations around this idea. One of my favorite quotes, and one that I have up on a board at home is a quote by Hunter S. Thompson.
“Beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living within that way of life.”
In our house we do thought experiments based around questions. We talk about these questions in an open way-Sometimes they chose to share their response, other times, its simply for them to explore. Better understanding of oneself leads to and influences motivations and beliefs and shows us that we are the creators of our life. Making it in the ever changing world means that we have to ask intelligent and more thoughtful questions. Now, my worries about the direction my kids take is nil. I don’t think there is such a thing as the “right path”, it’s the path that you make that is worthy.
If you’re curious to know, here are some of the questions we ask:
What does one think is living well?
How do we want to be in the world?
What do we want our world to look like?
Am I worthy of this or is it worthy of me?
What is the difference between living and existing?
Do you find yourself influencing your world, or it influencing you?
What is worse- failing or never trying?
Should one worry what others think of them?
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
What does happiness mean to you?
What would you do differently if you knew no one would judge you?
What are the top five things you cherish in your life?
How should one handle anxiety?
What is the purpose of money?
What would you say is the one thing you’d like to change in the world?
What makes you smile?
“Tomorrow is shaped by the type of conversations you have with yourself today.” Emily Maroutian
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters…