As parents, we are the beginning point of our child’s education. They look up to us, mimic us, and shape their worldview through our lens. Obviously, there are many other influences, and as they grow they will develop their own opinions. However, those opinions will be heavily based on the lessons and behaviors they learn from us. As a father, there are many things I cannot teach my daughter (math being a pretty big one… counting to 20 with shoes on is still pretty tough), but these are some important lessons that I want to make sure she learns at home.
5 Lessons To Teach Our Kids
5) Learn When to Bend… And When Not To.
As our kids grow they will start to make personal choices of what is right, what is wrong, and what is worth fighting for. With that needs to come an understanding that they will not always get their way. Compromise and discussion are going to be necessary constantly throughout their lives. As adults, we need to model that disagreement is not a bad thing. We don’t have to agree with everyone, and some people we will never agree with. Some disagreements may be insurmountable, but most are not. To make this all work, we need to show our peers the common courtesy of not starting a conversation with the idea that our wants are more important than someone else’s wants. Starting from this base level of equality makes compromise and understanding easier.
The ability to compromise has another benefit. There are certain things in this world, that cannot be compromised on. Certain places not to bend at all. If people know that we are willing to meet in the middle on most topics, then it lends a natural power to standing firm. Teach your kids when to bend, and when not to.
4) Ignorance is Never an Excuse
We live in a world of infinite information at our fingertips. Gone are the days of having to go to the library and flipping through the card catalog for answers. There is no excuse anymore for a lack of education. I don’t mean school education (although that is extremely important), I mean the aggressive search for knowledge. We should never appear satiated, or comfortable with what we know. The most brilliant people on earth still only know the smallest fractions of what is out there.
Our kids need to see us reading, researching, and trying to understand complex problems on a wide spectrum of topics. Exploration and discovery should be encouraged constantly, and learning should be conveyed as a reward within itself. This is especially important in a world where easy answers are everywhere. Our kids will have no trouble finding someone who is willing to give them information, what they will need to do is learn how to decide which information is legitimate.
3) People are Defined by Their Actions, Everything Else is Details
There is a song in the play Avenue Q called “Everyone is a Little Bit Racist”. Although it is a comedic song in an over the top play, there is some truth to it. We all have our prejudices, and part of that is just being human. What is important, is how we portray these prejudices and that we are very aware of them.
Our kids are sponges, and you can be absolutely sure that they hear every comment you make within your home. More than that, they pick up on tone. If every time you talk about a certain group of people it comes with a negative connotation, that will shape them. If you group people based on race, sexuality, religion, etc. even in the most passive of ways (“Oh, well that’s how “they” behave…”) your kids will start to latch onto that as well. So be aware of yourself, and make sure your kids know the only things that define people are their words and actions. Everything else is details.
2) Be Progress
Change is not a spectator sport. There are times in everyone’s life where they see something they disagree with. These can be minor or major issues, usually they fall somewhere in between. No matter what these issues are, it is up to us to work toward the changes we want to see. Some things take small actions, and some causes are lifelong work.
The important thing is that they get involved. Let them see you volunteering your time, donating money, creating awareness, etc. Whatever the things you do in your home to create change, make sure they are part of it. That way, as they get older, progress won’t feel like something that other people do. It will be the living, breathing creature that it is. An organism fueled by people who do not sit on the sidelines.
1) Know Your Worth
I am a pretty big optimist, and I hope that comes through in my posts here. That being said, the world can be a tough place. I don’t even mean the truly horrible things. I just mean the day to day difficulties in life. Between family, friendships, relationships, money, work, etc. we all balance a huge range of responsibilities. In order to handle these aspects of life properly, we need to be confident in our decisions.
My daughter needs to know her worth so she can build this confidence in herself. Whether it is negotiating a raise at work, or deciding how she will let others treat her in personal relationships, it all comes back to a confidence in knowing you are important. She needs to be confident enough to weather her mistakes, and realize that failures do not define her… they are motivation to do better in the future.
It’s important to show your kids they are special to you, and I think most of us as parents have no issue doing that. In fact, I’m sure some non-parents would wish we took a break for a few moments from gushing about our wonderful, amazing kids (we probably won’t). The harder part is making sure they understand their worth internally. Make them see that they have power, they can stand up for themselves, and telling people that you require a certain level of respect is not selfish.
She’s worth it.