Is there a secret to raising responsible children? Good connections, learning what true happiness is, and cultivating an environment of gratitude and purpose may help families overcome many of the challenges they face today.
Author and psychologist Susy Lee, has written a book called Raising Kids Who Care: Practical Conversations for Exploring Stuff That Matters Together. She is proud to be the mother of two caring sons, and she also has a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict studies.
Parenting the Next Generation
Susy recently joined us on 20Twenty to talk about parenting the next generation. She believes that if everyone in the world lived the way Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount, it would be the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
‘When my kids were in primary school, I was teaching special religious education,’ says Susy, ‘The kids were always a couple of steps ahead developmentally than we realised. Being in the school with my kids and their classmates, I learnt how deeply they think and how compassionate they are.’
Susy used to tell the kids stories about children living overseas who had so much less than them. That conversation prompted one child to offer their lunch money to help. She would often talk to them about deep concepts she hadn’t realised they cared so much about.
The Effect of Consumerism
‘We need to come to a place where we have enough,’ says Susy. ‘And I thought I would run a workshop called Raising Kids Who Care to talk about the effect of consumerism on our kids. I booked just a little room and there was standing room only. There were a lot of parents like me who are concerned about the world their kids are growing up in and are wondering what to do about it.’
Susy also started running workshops with whole families together. Parents would watch their kids speak deep wisdom and understanding about big issues. And the kids realised their parents cared about these things too.
‘I’m really committed to finding ways to get families talking together,’ Susy says, ‘and not have everybody separated into age groups. The book came out of my work with kids and in aid development organisations. I’m trying to raise a whole generation of families who care more about the world.’
The book though, has not been specifically written for a Christian audience. In some ways, it’s written for those who don’t have the benefit of a Christian community. Churches do a great job supporting families, but Susy is also concerned for families outside the church.
Culture of Communication
‘I’m using words like our inner selves when I mean soul and spirit,’ says Susy, ‘and superpower when I’m talking about gifting. The idea is that each of the conversations has something to help you start stimulating thinking, a way to get kids drawn in. To start thinking about what they have to contribute to the world.’
Susy believes a parent’s job is about encouragement. One of the most wonderful things is seeing who this little person of ours is going to become. What are their gifts going to be? Watching our children grow up is one of life’s great joys.
‘What I really hope is that I can encourage families to live more in the moment,’ says Susy. ‘To enjoy those wonderful years when the kids want to be with you. Build a family culture of communication when they’re young so that it will continue through their teen years and into their adult years as well.’
‘We just don’t talk to our kids enough about the world around them.’