Raising kids is hard. And, while it’s hard for any parent, it can be grueling if one or both parents are doctors. Every parent wants their kids to be successful in life, not just professionally, but also in personal and social life. As doctors, we are always trying to find a balance between work and personal lives, while making sure we provide everything our kids need to succeed in life. Of course, we want our kids to have all the good characteristics when they grow up, which is practically impossible. So, we asked our community to tell us top three things they want to see in their kids when they grow up. Some common themes emerged among the responses, such as Grit, Self Sufficiency, Empathy, and Health. But, there is a lot more, and we are amazed to see community’s enthusiasm around this topic. Here are responses from seven leading physicians:
Dr. Scott Schreiber (Chiropractic Physician): Characteristics that I wish my children to have when they grow up include the following:
Independence: I wish that they have the courage to speak for themselves and not give-into peer pressure, whether it be professionally or personally. I would like them to think on their own and be able to decipher fact from fiction. I also would like to be able to support themselves financially and be able to make the right choices for themselves.
Strength: I would like to see them as strong individuals, taking care of their bodies, mind, finances, etc.
Work Ethic: I want my children to have a high work ethic, not taking the easy way out. Work hard and get results, not complain about what others have or how you were cheated. If you want something bad enough, then go get it!
Nathan Wei, MD (Rheumatologist): I’m dad to 4 children, ages 30, 27, 25, and 19. The things my wife and I wanted to cultivate in our children were (are):
Self Sufficiency: We told each of them we would pay for college wherever they wanted to go but after that they would have to be on their own. No living at home, etc.
Resiliency: The ability to take life’s knock downs and get up again. So far, so good.
Honesty: No explanation needed.
Edna Ma, MD (Anesthesiologist): I hope my two children (now 2 & 4 years old) have the following traits when they grow up:
Be humble & kind: Where and when you’re born is based totally on chance. I hope my children realize that they have had a lot more opportunities than many other people in the world. I hope they exercise kindness and humility to other people with all their encounters.
Grit: I hope my children learn the value of perseverance, grit and hard work. Anything worth achieving will require dedication and work, whatever that goal may be. Like Malcolm Gladwell, I believe that 10,000 hours of practice is required for mastery of any field or topic. As I have learned myself, the more I delve into a particular area, such as developing my business or anesthesia, the more easy it becomes, the more confidence I grow, and more opportunities find me! With grit grows opportunity!
Be Happy: My children are young now, only 2 and 4 years old. Being happy seems to come to them easily. Happiness comes in the form of a cupcake or a new toy. However as they (and humans, in general) grow up, life will get complicated. I hope they find happiness in a hobby they enjoy, their work, their friends or maybe even their families! I hope they find a moment to smile and think “Life is Good!”
Amy Baxter, MD (Pediatric Emergency/Pain Research & CEO, Buzzy): My kids have watched me balance practicing and running a business, for good and ill.
Grit: What I hope they take away from my example isn’t the workaholic tendencies that don’t always pan out. Instead, I hope they do get a sense that grit is a necessary part of success.
Willingness to sacrifice to make a difference: I also hope they see that it’s worth sacrificing to help others, whether sacrificing dinnertime to help a neighbor’s child with a broken ankle, or sacrificing sleep and money to make the Buzzy device to help needle pain and fear.
Kindness: Finally, when I see my kids do something kind I’m the most proud, and I hope they never lose that.
Dr. Ariel Blackburn (Chiropractic Physician): If I could give my children 3-4 things to have when they grow up that would make them successful in life:
Never Give Up: The first thing would be to never give up on their goals in life. There are so many wonderful opportunities that this beautiful life can provide us with. I would hate for them to feel as though they were not good enough to follow their heart and complete their own dreams. I want them to look back on their life and know they have tried their hardest to reach every single dream they had for themselves.
Health: My father recently lost his battle with Congestive Heart Failure. With his passing, it has only solidified the fact that we must take care of our health. There are things I wish he would have done better when it came to his health. I may still have the opportunity to spend time with him if he did. Health trumps all and we are only given one body. We all forget how amazing our body is and how many “little battles” it must fight for us on a daily basis. It is absolutely vital to take care of it and respect it.
Good Money Habits: I also wish that I would have developed better money habits from a young age. It is hard when you want to continue your education, but also know you may forever be in debt. I had to live off of student loans throughout undergraduate and graduate school; I did not have any other option at the time. If I could go back, I would work harder on preventing this as much as I could.
Passion: The first and most important thing that I wish my child would have is passion. I truly believe having a passion is what makes human beings beautiful. It is my passion for medicine that sculpted me into the person I am today and I truly believe I would’ve been completely lost without it. Passionate people are what make the world we live in great, whether it is through music, science or art. I believe the best path to greatness is achieved through the relentless pursuit of your passion.
Curiosity: Another important trait I wish my child would grow up to have and nurture is curiosity. It is of utmost importance to maintain an open mind and a willingness to always learn, evolve and better yourself. Living in a closed off and safe environment, never wondering what more there is to life, to the world – would be a waste in my opinion. There are hundreds of cultures, places, religions, animals, even foods in the world. I want my child to have the desire to see and experience as much as he can in his lifetime. The amount of things you can teach your child as a parent is greatly out scaled by the quantity and quality of lessons that the world has to offer.
Health: Last but not least, every parent wants for their child to always be healthy. Success is relative and means something else for every single person. Since I could never anticipate what skill sets my child would require to achieve his version of success, I want him to always have a healthy mind, body and spirit.
Andrew D. Atiemo, MD (Interventional Cardiologist): I have 2 young children ages 5 and 7, and here are 3 things/qualities I would like my kids to have when they grow up.
Empathy: There is a lot of suffering in this world and there is a lot that we as human beings can do to alleviate suffering. But, there must be empathy – this is what allows us to feel connected despite our differences.
Responsibility: I want my children to understand that as much as I love and care for them, they must take responsibility for their actions and choices that they make. Parents will not always be able to undo the consequences of poor decision making.
Work/Life Balance: As a cardiologist, I’ve cared for people with sudden cardiac death and it is devastating. None of us are promised tomorrow. It’s important to prioritize what really matters in life and make time for those things.
What are some of the things you wish to see in your kids when they grow up? Please share in comments below.