As a parent there are lots (LOTS) of things I want to teach my children. Some of them I’ve done already – they all knew how to read and swim before 1st grade. They all know how to write a decent thank you note. They all clear their table without being told.
But there’s so much more – some things that we talk about and other things that I demonstrate and hope they follow and still other things that I hope they figure out on their own based on what they know to be right. Things like…
- Make eye contact when an adult talks with you and respond with more than a one word answer.
- Don’t take phone calls (or texts or snapchats or tweets…) during meals. Unless of course someone in the family isn’t home and out where they might need us.
- Serve your guests first.
- You can never say please or thank you too often.
- Make sure people who are important to you, feel like they are important to you.
- Hold the door for people.
- When someone in front of you is walking slowly, do NOT cut them off to get where you’re going. Take the few seconds and just slow down so they can walk without being pushed or rushed.
- Stand up for yourself and your friends. But don’t be rude about it.
- Don’t quit just because something feels hard. That’s when you need to work harder.
- Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are part of learning. However, making the same mistake over and over is dumb and means you’re not trying hard enough to fix the problem.
- Tip your hairdresser well.
- You’re never too old to set a goal and work a plan to get it.
- Exercise is important for your entire life and it comes in many forms. Find something you enjoy and stick with it.
- Eat healthy foods but remember there’s no such thing as unhealthy foods – just unhealthy amounts of them. Eat the occasional order of fries, piece of chocolate cake or milkshake. Savor what you eat.
- Respect your teachers, your coaches and the adults in your life. And show it.
- Go to church each week.
- Don’t be afraid to volunteer your time and talents.
- Pick up after yourself so others don’t have to do it for you.
- Help when you see a need, not just when you’re asked.
- Always have a book to read on your nightstand. And read it.
- Think about how you’re spending your money – don’t just spend it on anything that looks good or seems fun.
- Pray every night.
I could probably keep going and going. My influence wanes as time goes on (as well it should) but these are the things that I hope they’ve noticed and learned – and continue to notice and learn as they start to make more and more of their own choices. You know… this “letting go” phase of parenting might just be harder than the early years.