As a parent, I’ve come to realize that our children are like little, unpredictable sitcom characters. They surprise us, they make us laugh, they occasionally drive us up the wall, and just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they throw a plot twist. But amidst the daily shenanigans and the never-ending cycle of laundry (seriously, where does it all come from?), there comes a moment, usually at an ungodly hour, when you’re staring at the ceiling and the big questions hit you. What do I want for these little humans I’m raising?

First and foremost, I want them to be good. Not just ‘remember to say please and thank you’ good, but ‘help the elderly neighbor with her groceries’ good. The kind of good that makes people think, “Wow, their parents really nailed the whole moral compass thing.” But let’s be honest, achieving this in a world where they believe chocolate is a food group is a Herculean task.

Then, I want them to be smart. Not necessarily ‘winning the Nobel Prize in Physics’ smart (though I wouldn’t complain), but smart enough to not fall for things like, “If you make that face, it’ll stay that way forever.” I’m aiming for the kind of smart that helps them navigate life’s tricky waters, like understanding compound interest or why you should never wear socks with sandals.

Lastly, I hope they’re successful. Now, success is a tricky beast. It’s not all about having a swanky job or a bank account that rivals a small country’s GDP. No, I’m talking about the kind of success where they’re happy and fulfilled, whether that’s as a world-renowned surgeon or the best darn cupcake baker this side of the Mississippi.

But let’s circle back to the ‘good’ part because that’s the cornerstone of this parental wishlist. I want them to be the kind of people who return their shopping carts to the cart corral. The kind who are kind to waiters, who listen more than they speak, and who understand that sometimes, the best thing you can do is offer someone a slice of pie and a listening ear.

In the grand scheme of things, if my kids turn out to be good, smart, and successful (in whatever way they define it), I’ll consider my job well done. And if they manage to keep their rooms clean and remember to do their chores without being asked a dozen times, well, then I’ll know I’ve truly succeeded in the impossible.

So, to all the fellow parents out there, navigating this wild ride of parenthood, remember: our kids might not always be perfect, but as long as we’re aiming for good, smart, and successful, we’re on the right track. And hey, if all else fails, at least we’ve got a treasure trove of embarrassing stories for their future partners. Cheers to the journey!

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.