I know that my wife and I are not the perfect parents – she of course is much better than I by a long shot – but I think we are doing a decent job with our twins (13) and son (11). In the last two weeks, outside opinions have validated my thoughts as people talk highly of our children for what “great kids they are,” from academics to sports to friendships.
As my family awaits our next venture in life, moving to Southern California for a great opportunity, with open arms, I have been reflecting on what we have done to mold these imperfect but basically good children.
Here are my top 5 things my wife and I have taught and lived by:
1) Respect others – No matter if this is your grandparents, coaches and teachers. You listen and give them the respect they deserve. You may not like them as much as others, but they deserve your respect.
2) Treat others how you wanted to be treated – They are not always good at this one, but our children do stand up for friends and others who are different and may not be in the “in crowd.” The most common mantra my wife recites is “you don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but you must always be kind to everyone!”
3) We allow them to fail – No one wants to see their children hurt or emotionally scared. However, better for them to learn how to bounce back from failure now with people who love them unconditionally and will support them than to try learn this lesson as an adult from a boss who will not care.
4) Choices made come with consequences, good or bad – When our children make poor choices, it is their responsibility, and they “own” the consequences. Sometimes it isn’t fun, but shielding them or shifting blame to someone else may make the present more comfortable but robs them of coping skills for the future. When they make good choices, the reward is also theirs and credit goes to them, not us.
5) Always do your best – In today’s society, kids are almost always told they are doing a “good job” and that is all they have to do. For pete’s sake, my youngest boy still gets a trophy at the end of the year, win or lose. Stop already. If my children are just going through the “motions” and not giving everything, we call them on it and demand better. If they give it their all and still lose, good for them; not everyone can win every time, but you always try your hardest.
I am probably not going “out on a limb” with most of these actions, and I am sure most of you already follow these points. The work starts by making sure you follow them on a consistent basis and live by them as you expect your children to do. Fortunately, we are on the downhill slope to college age, and hopefully, our kids have the foundation built. We are now just reinforcing what they have been taught so that when on their own, they will have the skills and tools to become productive forces in society.
What tools and skills do you value teaching your children?