KidMandment 1: Life's purpose
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."
One of the toughest questions we'll ever ask ourselves is, "What is our PURPOSE in life?"
Thousands of books have been written on this topic alone. Philosophers in every generation have tried to shed some light on this question. Those who are at peace with their answer live life to the fullest; while those who never get it end up living unfulfilled, never knowing the greatness life has to offer.
In order for us to have any chance of teaching our children about this concept, we first need to understand it ourselves. The example we set early on with our kids has a tremendous impact upon the kind of people they will grow up to be.
Understanding our own PURPOSE is not an easy task! And yet, there’s nothing more important for us to confront than this question, especially if we hope to raise kids who are “successful.”
Teaching our children about PURPOSE, while inspiring them to live the life of their dreams, must be a high priority for any parent. As important as it is, this is not a topic they’ll learn about in school, through the media or from their friends. The importance of living a purposeful life is something we, as parents, must instill in our children.
The expression, “life’s PURPOSE,” may sound like one specific thing; but it is not. There are, of course, many layers of PURPOSE. Our lives can, and should, be meaningful in many ways. Our sense of PURPOSE or wholeness comes from our family, our friends, the groups we associate with, our spiritual affiliations and many, many more.
Good Parents just hope their kids figure it out on their own.
Great Parents understand what makes their lives rich and complete and teach these skills to their children. The question is, if that is your strategy, what happens if they never discover their life’s PURPOSE? Then what?
We all know people who just go through life lost and confused, while others feel whole and satisfied. Could lack of PURPOSE be the reason for this sense of loss and confusion?
Our children’s lives are far different from how ours were at their age. Things are moving so much faster now. Communicating with our children is more imperative than ever, because of the complexity of the world they are living in.
In addition to the speed at which our children grow up, the negative media, the devaluation of God in our society and the pervasiveness of pornography, we are also dealing with a society that no longer has a need to fight for survival. Unlike the vast majority of generations before us, almost all of our survival needs are met.
We live in a civilized country in the 21st century with running water and food readily available for the masses. We have warm clothing and housing for the masses. Sure, life can still be quite a struggle for many; but, overall, this generation in America lives better than any other generation in the world at any other time in history. We used to live to survive; now we survive trying to find meaningful purpose in our lives.
This creates new challenges for the age-old question regarding the PURPOSE of life. If it is no longer just to survive and procreate, then what is it?
Unfortunately, we often get WHAT our PURPOSE in life is confused with HOW we expect to accomplish it. This makes a complicated issue even more complicated. So, let’s start out by establishing that they are two totally different subjects. The fact of the matter is there is no one PURPOSE in life; every person must find the answer to this question on his or her own. If you want to raise “successful” children, a common denominator of anyone’s PURPOSE should be “to provide meaning for ourselves, in our own lives. This means that having purpose, meaning and/or fulfillment—whatever you want to call it—in life is not something that comes from others or from the outside; it is something that comes from within. For some, that means serving others; for some that means accumulating power and wealth; and for others it is something altogether different. If you don’t know what creates meaning in your life, then figuring it out should be your primary responsibility. Because until you know what you want to accomplish in life (PURPOSE) you will never be able to figure out how you can do it (PATH).
If we clearly define our own purpose and actively pursue it, we will inspire our children to live lives that are more fulfilling than just accumulating fast cars, fancy clothes and big houses. Showing our children how we live a life of service to others will open their eyes to living meaningful lives. They will see the endless benefits of living life this way and will want to go out and accomplish something wonderful on their own. Watching you live your real life experiences will provide them the internal motivation they need to guide them long after you are gone. Without a clear, focused purpose, they are more likely to sit around and complain about how life isn’t fair. This attitude creates victims, depression, resentment and the sense that they have lost control of their own lives.
The good news is that all of this can be avoided by helping them discover their own life’s PURPOSE.
We all have an instinctive need to fit in and feel like part of something bigger than ourselves. Understanding our PURPOSE and living it helps us realize we are part of a bigger plan. This provides us with a sense of unity, fulfillment and hope.
Lucky for us, it is as simple as teaching our children to be of service to others. But let’s not be confused. Of course, serving others includes providing help to the sick, the elderly and the needy; but make no mistake about it: Service to others is not limited to what people would call the “less fortunate.”
Service to others includes serving our Lord, ourselves, our families, our friends, our community and our country, as well as the environment.
When we serve others, we learn both humility and gratitude. We can focus more on the blessings we have than on what we don’t have. We feel happier and recognize more meaning in our lives.
Kidmandment One is about understanding, teaching and living a life with purpose and meaning. What a great gift to give and receive! Identify your PURPOSE in life and see the impact it has on you, your family and your friends.
When I set out to write my book, The 10 KIDmandments, my aim was to inspire other parents who, like my wife and I, embrace the journey towards becoming the best parents we can be. I still don’t think I have all the answers, but through my writing I became even more aware of the importance of establishing guiding principles for how we raise our kids. The principles set forth in my book are meant to inspire discussion and exploration of your families values and guiding ideals.
The choice to be a great parent is ours. We are incredibly fortunate to be blessed with children in our lives, and it is up to us to take advantage of this opportunity to achieve real, lasting significance. It is also our responsibility as parents to set the example that our children will follow as they grow up. No parent is perfect, but when we aspire to be the best teachers we can for our kids, we increase the chances that they will lead happy and successful lives.
Below you’ll find a short summary of each of the guiding principles in The 10 KIDmandments. You can click each link for an in-depth exploration that supplements what I’ve written in the book. I hope you’ll find them thought-provoking and inspiring!
Parenting Principles to Live By
KIDmandment 1 – Life’s Purpose
Living a purpose driven life at home and at work is the best way to achieve a successful and happy life. If we live a life that is following our chosen path and are actively pursuing meaning, we will inspire our children to live fulfilling and purposeful lives.
KIDmandment 2 – Life’s Path
Finding our life’s path shows us the way to achieve our life’s purpose. As parents, we can teach our kids how to explore and find the path that is meaningful to them, and how to choose the positive paths.
KIDmandment 3 – Positive Mental Attitude
Our kids are born with positive mental attitudes. Their contagious energy, wide-eyed wonder, and active imaginations are proof. As life grows more complex, maintaining a positive mental attitude and following positive thoughts with positive actions is vital to our growth and happiness.
KIDmandment 4 – Living in the Present
Make the most of every day. When we are constantly worrying about the past or projecting ourselves into the future, we miss all that is right in front of us. Allowing ourselves to be “in the moment” makes us conscious creators of our own lives, and this is a powerful gift to model for our kids.
KIDmandment 5 – Relationships/Communication Skills
The importance of true communication can’t be overstated, especially in today’s increasingly digital world. Teaching our kids good communication skills empowers them to create meaningful and lasting relationships and to pursue their goals in life.
KIDmandment 6 – Love to Learn
Finding sustainable joy in life is so much easier when we live a life of ongoing learning! When we are curious and engaged with the world around us, our kids learn to do the same, building a foundation for lifelong growth and joy.
KIDmandment 7 – The Rs: Rules, Respect, and Repercussions
When we set clear expectations, or rules, for our kids, they learn about the consequences of their actions, both positive and negative. It is part of our job as parents to make use of teachable moments and provide examples for respectfully engaging with the people around us.
KIDmandment 8 – Health
Good health means that our bodies, minds, and spirits are working harmoniously together. Setting an example of respect and care for these aspects of our lives encourages our children to develop healthy habits.
KIDmandment 9 – Money and Materialism
Studies prove that happiness is found within, in the pursuit of doing something we love rather than in accumulating money and material goods. Money is neither good nor bad; it is simply a tool. Teaching our kids the value of their time and effort instills pride in their work and accomplishments.
KIDmandment 10 – Faith, Religion, and Spirituality
These are the foundations of a worthwhile and happy life. Teaching our children the difference between faith, religion, and spirituality helps them grow into adults who find joy, meaning, and community through honoring our Higher Power.
The Most Difficult Job in the World
I firmly believe that single working parents have the hardest job in the world. Parenting children without many of the resources and support that most families take for granted makes raising kids by yourself an overwhelmingly difficult responsibility. Single parents (usually mothers) are more likely to live in poverty, and have trouble finding and keeping steady jobs due to the stresses and obligations of caring for children. This is why the profits from every copy of The 10 KIDmandments go to supporting Operation Breakthrough, an organization that serves the children of Kansas City’s urban core.
Operation Breakthrough is one of the largest single-site early education childcare and social services facilities in Missouri. Their mission is “To help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment.” I cannot say enough about the great work that the staff and volunteers at Operation Breakthrough do in our community. If you don’t already own a copy of The 10 KIDmandments, I urge you to purchase one (or more!) in support of an organization that lives these principles to their fullest each and every day.
I’d like to take a moment to thank my wife and our three daughters — I wrote this book in part to teach myself how to be a better husband, father, and friend to you. You four inspire me every day and I am continuously thankful for your incredible love and support. And to those who buy, gift, or share The 10 KIDmandments, thank you! – Jeff Oddo
Please support the work of Operation Breakthrough by purchasing The 10 KIDmandments today. Follow me on Twitter @JeffOddo to share in the journey towards becoming the best parents we can be!