What do parents want most for their children?

The first week of 2017 has whooshed by and with it that annual moment of introspection and resolution making. I haven’t only been thinking about what I want for myself but also about what I want for my children in 2017 and beyond.

The list is not that long: happiness and success. 


Happiness is an elusive quality and one that we often think is beyond our control. But I’ve recently had my thinking completely changed by a book called “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles that fuel success and performance at Work” by Shawn Achor. Achor argues that being happy is within our control. More importantly, that it can be a crucial advantage in achieving success in our personal and work lives.


I am leaving the definition of success to my kids to develop over time and am not going to define it for them in terms of academic or sporting success or – eventually – career or salary. But then that got me to thinking about what qualities I’d most like them to have.


What are the most important qualities I want my children to have?

Here my list is a little longer: kindness, curiosity, creativity, diligence and responsibility. But why? I hear you ask. The answer: these are the five qualities that I believe they will need to succeed in our increasingly uncertain world. Here are the reasons why:


Kindness: I could make the academic argument here about emotionally intelligent people achieving more personally and professionally. But I’m not going to. I just want them to be nice…


Curiosity: Our world is an amazing and interesting place and I want them to engage with that and constantly be learning just because they want to, not because they have to.


Creativity: I am a great believer that the 21st century is going to test our traditional economic models to their limit and those who prosper will engage both the left hand and right hand side of their brains to build new technologies, industries and careers. Besides which, being creative is fun.


Diligence: I have met so many young workforce entrants who thought that being bright was enough. But it’s not…we all have to apply ourselves to get the best result for ourselves and those around us.


Responsibility: In a lot of ways this may be the most important – I am so tired of hearing “but it wasn’t my fault”. It may not have been but we all still need to own our mistakes so we can learn from them.


Funnily enough on the responsibility front I am apparently not alone. In September 2014, Time Magazine ran an article that stated that responsibility was the character trait most American parents wanted their children to have. (Read the article here at http://time.com/3393652/pew-research-parenting-american-trends/.)


So what do you want for your children this year? Please take our survey at What parents want survey and tell us or tell us in the comment section below.