I started thinking about New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of the year, specifically what I want to change about myself, what I want to do more of, what I want to do less of, and what I want to do differently. As I have considered what lies ahead in the new year and my aspirations for it, I was continually pulled toward what I want my children to learn from me. I don’t mean the things like Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic (those things are important, don’t get me wrong!), I mean what are the life lessons that I want my children to take away from me this year… and by extension their childhood.
If there is one thing that I have learned from being a parent it is that you cannot teach from theory alone. Children learn far better and more completely by example. So I made a list of things that by my example and through my actions I can teach my children. I hope to use this as a bellwether to my parenting because I believe if my kids learn the things on my list everything else will be an extension of them. There are 10 items on this list and in 50 years I hope there is a quiz.
…and I hope that my kids can say that they learned the following from me:
- Take Good Care of Your Body – Eat right, get exercise, brush your teeth, and get your checkups. You only get one body make sure you treat it right, and it will be ready for you when you need it.
- Don’t be a bully. – I want my kids to to know that any problem that we resort to violence to solve has not truly been solved. When all is said and done violence only creates new problems that need to be solved later on. Parties who have been subdued by violence are merely waiting to be strong enough to fight back or waiting to see the bully fail. The emotional and psychological damage we do to ourselves when we resort to violence must be accounted for. It is not always easy to avoid violence, but working with others to find real solutions to problems means all parties are invested in making them work.
- Being Creative is as important as being Logical – “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” That saying is attributed to Albert Einstein though it’s authenticity is questionable but I want my kids to understand the message of it. That both sides of our brain have a role, and the development and use of both are critical to sustained success and happiness. I hope tat they grow up to be “ambidextrous thinkers”.
- Think before you speak – It is important to know when to speak and when not to. To much time is spent making up for a misspoken word. When you chose to speak make sure you know what you are talking about. (I need that advice as much as my kids do…)
- Learn to see both sides of any issue – Take the time to consider all sides of any issue. Start with what you know and believe, then look at the other point of view(s) and understand them as well as you understand your own. Neither side is 100% right, the truth lies somewhere in between. If you can see all the sides of any issue you may just discover where you are wrong, without anyone else having to point it out for you.
- Think for yourself – You have a brain and it is good learn to use it. No one (not even your Dad!) can use your brain better than you can.
- It is OK to show emotion – Love, Laugh, Cry, etc… One of the greatest gifts we have is to be able to feel, so let yourself do it. It will allow you to connect more deeply to those who you love, be more passionate in what you believe, and make the world around you more beautiful to behold. I had no idea how deeply I could have feelings for another person until my wife and my children came into my life. There is nothing more valuable than knowing that.
- Be different and be OK with it – You will be different then other people… you are an individual. Peer pressure to be the same as others is giving up on being the wonderful unique person who you are. No one remembers the person that was busy being the same as everyone else. I guarantee you if you can be yourself through high school and college there will people that look back on their years with you and wish they had been more like you when they had the chance!
- Be Empathetic – Empathy brings people together and makes us fell less alone. When you show you care for some one it opens the door for them to not only to care for you back but also to care for themselves. It builds understanding between people making it easier and more effective to communicate with each other, and ultimately creates trust. This is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned (and am learning) as a father.
- Work Hard – There is nothing of value in this life that you can gain without working hard for it. Anything that you get without working for you will not value. I repeat be willing to Work Hard!
Here is the bonus
11. Han Shot First – Finally… regardless of which version of Star Wars you grow up with… Han shot first…