Four Things I Always Tell My Kids When I Say Goodbye to Them

dad hugs crying son

Nearly every day, often when I kiss my kids goodbye as they head off to school, I remind them to do four things:

“Be good. Learn lots. Have fun. Do your best.”

These four requests embody the vast majority of the goals I hope my kids can internalize during their formative years. But what do they mean? Or, more specifically, what do I want my kids to understand they mean?

girl clinging to father's leg

Be Good

Yes, this is partly a reminder to follow the rules and adhere to the guidance of teachers and others who might be responsible for their safety and well-being. But it’s not just that. “Be good” also means to “be a force for good.” That is, improve the environment you’re in. Do well by and for others. Be a friend. Help those in need. Be good, as in both the noun and the adjective.

Learn Lots

I’m a firm believer in the idea that a lot of our problems can be solved by knowing more. Education is fundamental to improving our capacity to be (and do) good, for ourselves and for others. Knowledge gives us the raw materials we need to make the world a better place, improve our lot in life, and to find new sources of fulfillment. To that end, they should always be seeking to learn, no matter what environment they’re in. When in school, learning is…

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