Life is full of ups and downs.
This week I stood on a stage and helped eulogize my grandma.
I loved her dearly. She was a good woman who lived a rough life. Her days weren’t always filled with happiness but she somehow maintained joy in her life. She lived several hours away and I wasn’t always able to get down there to see her but I knew that she loved me and she knew that I loved her.
This week I sat around a table and watched as my in-laws were surprised by the unexpected return of their son from the Marine Corp. We knew about it ahead of time but it was still awesome to watch as he walked in, my mother-in-law mid chew and see the realization spread on her face. It took a few moments for her to register that it was indeed her son home for Thanksgiving. She looked around for what looked like a confirmation and jumped up and grabbed him. Only mothers of those serving know that hug. My father-in-law on the other hand just yelled “What are you doing here?!?” And threw a hug on him.
It was a touching moment that we won’t soon forget.
And in the midst of all of these scenarios were children running around, some aware of what was happening and some not. My kids span the gamut of understanding. Our 10 year old knew what was going on and was affected because of all the emotion but our 3 year old continued to play as if nothing was going on.
Even as I write this my son is trying to jump all over me asking for a piece of ice. I have no idea why it’s so important to him but it is. He’s whining and begging for a piece of ice.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to influence our kids and to leave a lasting legacy. How can we as parents make sure that the ideals and values that we hold dear will be passed down to our children in a way that leaves a lasting mark? I honestly believe that the answers are so simple that we often overlook them. Here are a few ways I’ve seen over the last decade of watching and working with parents.
Spend Time with your Kids
See? Pretty simple but often overlooked.
A couple of months ago my wife and I took a day off. We called our daughter’s school and said she wouldn’t be coming in and let them sleep in. We made a big breakfast and then went to Mills mall for some fun. My wife and daughter went off to do a little shopping and my son and I went to the indoor playground and went crazy. We had some lunch there and then went to see Nemo in 3D. By the time we left we were all worn out.
But we had a blast. Days like that don’t come around often but when they do they are so sweet. Memories were made and were imparted a little of who we are onto our children. Days like that build trust and solidify relationships for those days that aren’t so sweet.
Go fishing, skip school, play catch, go for a drive, plan a vacation, let your kids pick—whatever it is that you do, do it together! It doesn’t have to be big or grandiose, it just has to be together.
Speak to your kids not at them
I honestly struggle with this one. I often find myself trying to prove a point or correct a wrong by talking at them. And I know all they hear is “Blah blah blah blah!” I’m not so old as to have forgotten how those talks sound to little ears.
What I should be doing and what I need to be doing is to talk with them. If I’m trying to pass on a lesson or correct something I want more than just behavior modification, I want to get to the root issue. This is a shift in much of my parenting style but it’s one that’s worth the time.
My daughter is come into an age of drama. Her prepubescent mind has shifted to some sort of drama-filled overdrive. And it drives me crazy. I’m sure that any of you parents reading this can either identify with me or remember going through it yourself.
And I have no idea how to handle it. Gone is my sweet little daddy’s girl and she has been replaced with this soap opera version! Unfortunately when she goes into a whinny soliloquy my default position is frustration. And instead of listening to what’s going on I instead raise my voice and demand for it to stop! And believe me when I say its soooo effective.
I have to relearn how I react to her. I know that it might sound flip flopped and that she needs to change her behavior but how can I preach one thing to her and not practice it myself? I’m the adult and I should be the example. So I’m doing just that.
When I begin to react like that I’ve asked my wife to call me on it. And when I’m the one out of line I will apologize to my daughter. And guess what? When I actually follow through with that my daughter and I can have an actual conversation and she changes her behavior.
It’s not changing everything overnight but it is making a huge difference. And our relationship is growing in a positive direction as she grows older. In a time where our kids are really beginning to pull away we are continuing to grow close.
This are not the only things we can do and we will continue to look at ways to speak into our children’s lives but in my experience these are two of the most important ways we can influence our children. What are things that you do? Do you have traditions or things you do with your family that leave those lasting impressions? We would love to hear your stories!
And to all our readers we pray you had a great Thanksgiving and that you were able to spend some time looking back and counting the blessings in your lives.