As our girls are getting older I’m noticing how much they are starting to emulate my wife and me. Whether it be our mannerisms or words they remind me more and more each day that they are ours.
At times I think to myself that they are so cute and it’s so awesome that they act like us. But at other times I grow weary of what that could lead to. I know my faults, my vices, my sins; and I don’t want to pass those on with the cuteness that I see now.
I want to leave my kids a legacy and I don’t mean that I want to leave them a ton of money I mean that I want them to have something to look forward to as they get older. I want them to look at me and look at my wife and see that we are good people and hard-working people. I want them to see the values that we have, and want them to have those same values for themselves. I definitely don’t want them to be clones of us, but I want them to see that good options are in front of them. Then, hopefully they will choose those options or even find better ones.
Did She Just Say … ?
Every once in a while my oldest, Mikaela, will repeat something that she heard either from one of us or others around us that makes us cringe. We’ll usually say something along the lines of “well I’m glad it was just around us” or “thank goodness she didn’t say that at church.” But then I have to wonder what she is saying when we aren’t around. I honestly don’t care much if someone talks poorly about me, but I don’t want to find out that my daughters are viewed negatively because of my influence.
Setting the Train on the Right Tracks
With all of this in mind I decided to set aside some time this week to breakdown what it is I want my kids to learn, what values I see as most important to pass on, and then figure out how I can best instill all this into my girls. The steps I took seemed to be effective so far:
1. Partner up – None of us should have to face any parenting challenge alone. Even if you are a single parent there needs to be someone you can turn to (a fellow single parent, a friend, a parent, etc.). Get with your partner and discuss what values are most important to you.
2. Plan – Now that you know what matters most to you it’s time to figure out how you can pass those values onto your children. There may be simple steps to model the behavior, and it may mean a complete change in your own behavior. Put together a solid plan and start enacting it right away.
3. Evaluate past – Think back on your own actions, feelings, and words. What areas would you change if you could time travel? Figure out what you’ve done that you don’t want your kids to do.
4. Change the future – You control your future, so make it the way you want it to be. Take steps to put the changes in place that you want to see. Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t get discouraged if your changes aren’t happening as fast as you would like.
5. Be present in the present – The most important way to change how your child acts is to be with them and show them how you want them to act. And when you are with them, be with them. Don’t just be in the room with them, but interact with them and give them one-on-one time whenever you get the chance.
This week my wife and I had time to get through steps one and two together and then we each spent some time thinking through step three. We are really looking forward to sharing more of our values with our girls and seeing them grow up—but we’re in no rush for that part. Now it’s time to change the future, so that our girls can change the world. Bring it on!