Editor's note: This post by New York Times best-selling author Jon Acuff originally appeared on his site, acuff.me. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Eleven years ago, I learned the best idea about parenting before I even had kids.
I used to work for Bose, the company that makes amazing stereos and headphones.
One of the markets we would try to sell to is college graduates. We wanted the 23-year-old who got their first real check to buy one of our stereos, but we had a problem.
Sony started talking to that 23-year-old when they were 6.
Sony sold them a pink stereo in the first grade.
Sony sold them a Playstation 3 at age 13.
Sony sold them headphones at age 15.
So by the time we showed up at 23 to sell them a stereo, there was a sense of “Who are you? I’ve never met you before.”
Sony essentially had a 17-year head start on us. If someone took karate for 17 years before you did, they are going to crush you.
The problem with this principle is that a lot of times we parents give pop culture a huge head start with our kids.
We let the world start the conversation, let celebrities drive their dreams and let society define their values.
Then at age 15 we show up in their life and wonder why they’re lost.
As a dad of two daughters, this cartoon about Halloween bums me out because most of us are too busy to respond with the truth. We miss the “store aisle” conversation with our kids because we think if we don’t have the conversation, it won’t happen.
Here’s the truth, though:
It’s not whether your kids will have a conversation about the world they live in; it’s whether you’ll have a voice in it.
It’s time to start talking with our kids.
Earlier than we want.
More often than we like.
Don’t give the world a head start with your kids.
Jon Acuff is the New York Times best-selling author of four books including his most recent, "Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average & Do Work that Matters." Jon lives with his wife Jenny and two daughters in Franklin, Tenn.