Parenting Goal: Raise Good, Kind, Decent Human Beings

My goal in parenting has always been to raise good, kind, decent human beings. That’s it. Simple.

So why does it seem so hard??

When my path has been blocked by moodiness, frustrations, disappointments, complete failures, attitudes, defiance and straight up exhaustion, I try to come back to my simple goal.

The teen years have brought an ever increasing pressure to teach them every adult skill they could possibly need, give them the emotional tools to deal with life and life’s crazy ups and downs and keep them safe in a world that feels out of control. Sometimes the goal seems so far away.

I have always loved lists. I love making them…not completing them. I probably have notebooks filled with lists. Notebooks filed with lists that have only half of the items crossed off. I am a proud procrastinator and shining example of do enough to get it done. And not much more.

So what does that mean for my ultimate list of raising good, kind, decent human beings? Will they be ok, so-so, human beings?? Help! I need to step up my game!

So in true form I have made yet another list. My kids will tell you we have had every chore chart on the planet. I have scoured Pinterest and even made a few chore boards in pretty scrap book papers and cute little clothes pins to hold the adorably inspiring chore. I have yelled, ranted, raved, ignored, done it all myself, stopped doing anything at all, you name it we’ve tried it.

To be clear this is not tried and true. This is not backed by research. And it will probably be a joke to my teens in a month; another of mom’s crazy plans. But it’s my latest and greatest. It’s the tired mom’s check list. I’m still trying. That should count for something, I hope.

Daily 5

5 steps is pretty ambitious, but it had a nice ring to it.

If my teenagers want to be well rounded people with a life that is reasonably balanced, and reasonably successful, they should try to make their daily 5.

Here is what our family decided were 5 things that kept us healthy and balanced in a wellness and whole human being kind of way.

  1. Done. Done well-ish.
  2. Play or exercise. Preferably play. Something fun. Life should be fun. Basketball. Bike to a friend’s. Try to build a zip line from the old rotten swing set to the house. Whatever. Have some fun.
  3. Practice or learn something. Ideally that stupid instrument I pay for every month, but I’m good with You Tube videos of your choosing. Learn to change a tire. Learn Ukulele. Learn how to do awesome Henna designs. Bake, design, build; practice or learn something.
  4. Be helpful. Do a chore. See something that needs to be done and do it. Clean your poor beta fish tank (in the interest of full disclosure, out beta lives in my lemonade pitcher, never quite got around to a tank, but he does seem exceedingly happy with his home), water the ONE plant that is kinda alive.
  5. And last but not least. Spend at least one hour without any device. No TV. No phone. No video game. Being alone is good for them. Having a few thoughts strung together without snap chatting those thoughts as they come, is good for them. They don’t like this one as much but it’s been fun watching them try to combine 1-4 to count as 5 and to work the system as much as possible. But I figure they are at least aware of how hard it is to spend an hour without a device. That’s good, right? I even saw one of them pick up a book and read for a while as she was growling at me about the hour thing : )

Read more here for encouraging teens to be happily alone.


Parenting teenagers is no easy feat. But my guess is that you are doing an amazing job and your kids are well on their way to being kind, decent human beings! Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas and some of the lists that work in your family. We could all use the help!


Joy Hartman is passionate about empowering teens to become strong, confident adults! She works with teens of all ages as a family therapist in Wisconsin and has the unique experience of raising three moody, eye-rolling teenagers of her own. For more fun and support on this crazy roller coaster ride of parenting teenagers, join Joy and hundreds of other parents at: or Facebook






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