Your Child in a Word

random scrabble tiles accompanied by the text What word do you hope will describe your child when they grow up?

Often, when I’m talking to parents of young school-aged children, I ask them to come up with a word or phrase that they hope will describe their child when they are eighteen years old. I do this to help parents look at the end of most of their parenting duties and focus on how to help their child develop into the word or phrase that they chose.

Most often, I find that parents get very focused on their child’s success (or failure) in sports, academics, or some other talent related activity. When they pick out words or phrases that are not about those successes or failures, they are more likely to focus on helping their children become good citizens and decent human beings. I’ve yet to have a parent say, “I want my child to grow up to be good at math.” or “They need to be a pro basketball player.” Yet often their focus as parents is on these very issues.

It’s a tool I’ve used on myself (and my husband) to both keep my sanity and my clarity on how I wanted to parent my children. It’s so easy to get caught up in the world of competitive sports and think that it’s the all important aspect of your child’s youth. Grades are similarly desirable as a measure of your child’s success in life, yet is that really a true indicator of success?

Our Son in a Word

Last week, my husband and I went to our very last parent-teacher conference for our senior son. One of his teachers asked us to write down one word to describe our child. I wrote a word without consulting with my husband. A few minutes later my husband, without seeing my response, whispered the same word to me.

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The word we both came up with won’t get him into an Ivy league college or make him a millionaire. It won’t ensure him a position on a pro-sports team or even an executive position in a corporation. It won’t make him famous or maybe even desirable to some people, yet it was the word we had thought of when we held our new born baby in our arms. It was what we had most hope he’d achieve as he hit adulthood.

The word I had written down and the word my husband whispered to me that best described our boy was “kind.” Of all the wishes we have for him as we send him out into the world, this was the one that most fills our hearts with pride and joy. We hope the big, sometimes terrifying, and often cruel world doesn’t steal that from him, for it is truly his greatest success. And ours as his parents.


Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC

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by Dr. Lisa Kaplin
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About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC

headshot of Lisa KaplinCertified Life Coach and Psychologist at Smart Women Inspired Lives.

I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.


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Feel More Confident as a Parent

Let’s face it, parenting can be really hard. Sometimes we aren’t sure how to handle really tough situations or really tough kids. Lisa has worked with parents since she started her training as a psychologist and has helped so many of them learn the best tools to relate better to their children, handle difficult decisions, and how to assess whether their child needs more help than just parenting.

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Comments to “Your Child in a Word”

  1. I love this, Lisa!!! If we all had the “kindness” trait, our world would finally be at peace!! ❤️

    • Administrator

      Thank you!


  2. Yes Your David has always been a kind soul since he was a baby . Wishing him success being such a kind person. I believe your David will go far in life with that most special quality . Love reading your blogs . Love you . ❤️Anna

    • Administrator

      You modeled it for our whole family!


  3. Especially loved this one!

    • Administrator

      Thank you!