As a parent, I was always aware that it was my responsibility to raise good kids. I later came to realize that my most important job was to raise good human beings, that is a whole other level of responsibility.

Unlike many other things that we acquire in our lives with instructions for assembly, there were no assembly instructions that came with my children.

It takes a village.

When I was raising my children, the village was my church, my children’s schools, band, sports, 4-H and FFA. All of those gave my children tools for life, but for this article I will focus on 4-H.

Public Speaking Contests gave them confidence to prepare for and speak in front of a group, this is a skill best learned when you are young.

Community Service taught my children to give to and serve those less fortunate.

Arts and Crafts. There are not too many life lessons there, but I gained a few priceless pieces of holiday art.

They also had opportunities to be officers and learn leadership and cooperation skills. Their animal projects taught them work ethic, commitment, being a good loser, and a humble winner.

Losing, making mistakes, raising an animal and then shedding tears on sale day, using bad judgment and facing the consequences– those all happened and some of the best skills they received to cope with adulthood were found in those tough lessons.

As a parent, we would love to shield our children from the difficult stuff, but it is there that the best lessons are found, and where they learn to be good human beings.

Kirsten Areias

Kirsten Areias, who recently received the Merced Chapter California Women for Ag Bell Ringer award for promoting agriculture, writes a regular agriculture column for The Westside Express.