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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Two Ways to Raise Kids

I am about to tread on some very thin ice. I just want to warn you. I am about to talk about how most parents and teachers go about developing kids into adults.

I have some friends who have two talented children. Both kids are teenagers and both are actors, singers and dancers. They both aspire to make it on Broadway. Their parents have resourced them with voice lessons and training every step along the way. In fact, I’d say the parents are consumed with their children’s success.

So far, so good.

The bad news is, success to them is simply making it “big” in their career as an entertainer. That vision has taken precedence over anything else, including instilling values inside those kids that will help them make wise decisions once they enter their career. Expediency rules the day. The problem is: when our vision for our kids’ future precedes helping them embody a set of values—they will enter unknown territory without a moral compass. The mantra is: whatever you have to do to get ahead, do it. And they will likely compromise who they are just to reach a goal. Sadly, this is already evident in my friends’ two children.

I know another family with children who also aspire to make it as entertainers. They are going about it in a totally different manner. They are careful to have conversations with their young teens about their integrity, their ethics and their personal identity. This mom and dad are helping them know what to do in any situation before they get to it. Values comes before vision.

As adults, we all have this same decision in front of us. Does vision precede values or vice versa? Our nation is full of “vision before values” people and we have seen it wreck kids, from child actors to NCAA athletes, to companies like Enron, to teachers in schools who will cheat on test scores just to pass the students through the system. Their goal became bigger than their identity. That always produces trouble. In fact, I believe it is a recipe for disaster. We must help students know who they are before determining where they’re going.

 Which are you working on first: vision or values?


  1. Perchfamily5 on February 22, 2012 at 10:07 am

    That’s pretty vague. Get more specific and detailed about this vision or values perspective with children. I think we all aspire to both in rearing our children. Most notably this begins at very early stages in their physical, mental and emotional development.

  2. Matt Palka on February 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    We do need more “values before vision” people. When I think about where I want to go and what I have a passion for, I first recognize my values. Only when I know why I love to do what I do am I able to make decisions that will greatly affect my future life. I have visions, but my values determine the vision I want to create. I know that no matter where I go, I will have the same values, but the vision could results exactly as I envisioned it.  

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Two Ways to Raise Kids