Raising children is no easy feat. Raising children to become good people... it might feel next to impossible in a world full of so much bad. When other kids are bullying on the playground, shoplifting in town and driving well over the speed limit, how do you make sure that your kid is the one inviting the new kid to eat at their lunch table and recycling their lunch garbage?
You don't. But there are ways you can tell if you're raising your child to become an upstanding person — the kind of person with whom you'd choose to spend your time, who you'd recommend to an employer, whose policies you'd stand behind if they were running for office.
If your child starts behaving in the following seven ways, know that you're doing well. (Note: If your child isn't behaving in these ways, that doesn't mean you're doing a bad job at parenting! It just means that parenting is hard, all children are different and there are a million and one forces fighting against you.)
If your child really is inviting the new kid to eat at their lunch table, or they're spending their time with other kids of all different walks of life, it may be a sign that they want to include everyone. And practicing inclusivity, of course, makes everyone better.
If your child does make an ample effort to recycle their lunch garbage or they go around picking up other kids' litter, it may be a sign that they care about their impact on the environment. And they clearly want to make the world a cleaner, overall better place.
If your child says "please" and "thank you" without you having to remind them, it may be a sign that they're growing into good people. They understand how to be polite and show both respect and gratitude.
If your child stands up after a meal and starts collecting everyone else's plates to clear them, it may also be a sign that they're growing into a responsible and caring person. They're showing a willingness to clean up after themselves and help others do the same.
If you have conversations with your child and notice that they're a rather active listener (because you only have to tell them things once or because they're engaged with you and ask questions after listening intently), this could be a sign that they're growing up to be an empathetic person who understands that conversations are two-way streets.
If your child is always sharing their toys and/or snacks with other children or their own siblings, it's a positive sign. This means that they care about others and aren't greedy.
If you're going through a tough time and your child offers you advice that takes you by surprise (because it's such a mature way of thinking!), this may be a sign that they're growing into a wise person who can make good decisions for themselves and cares enough to help others do the same.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.