We all want to give our children and grandchildren great gifts, and I don’t mean the kind we can buy in stores.
The gifts I’m talking about can’t be bought for any price in any store. But these gifts are vital to giving our children a joyful and healthy future. Of course, I’m talking about the gifts of qualities and values like honesty, responsibility, self-reliance, compassion, a sense of humor, and self-esteem. These gifts are truly priceless.
Here’s a simple tip that works well for my family. I have colored 1-inch round red and green buttons and taped them to my bathroom mirror. When I get up in the morning, I push that green button and then pretend I’m being visually recorded all day long by my children and grandchildren. After all, we are being recorded, right? Are they watching us all day long? Are we their text book for how to live their lives? In fact, they are some of the best recorders around, mimicking what we do nearly perfectly sometimes. Family researchers say that our children get over 80% of their core qualities, values and behaviors just from watching us. Knowing that can cause a parent to carefully evaluate their own behavior.
For example, do they copy how I pet my puppy? How I talk to the puppy? How I wash my hands? Do they notice when I clean up my messes or if I don’t? Do they notice if I obey the law, or if I go over the speed limit? Do they notice when I tell the truth on the phone, or if I make up a little white lie on why I can’t be someplace? What have I just taught them by doing those things? I’ve taught them that the rules are different for them than they are for me. I’ve taught them that it is okay to bend the truth or not clean up because I’m tired. I haven’t said a word to guide them, just demonstrated what they perceive as acceptable because I, the one they look up to, did it without indicating it is wrong. And just how far does it go? Do they notice when I leave my trash under my seat at the movies? I guarantee you they do.
Well, there’s some good news here. The people reading this are already excellent parents and grandparents and are passionate about giving priceless gifts of various qualities and values to their children and grandchildren. We already know that our kids are studying us like a text book, and we know that we are the authors of that text book. If you accept my video challenge (red and green button on your mirror), I promise you will not only give your children even greater gifts, you’ll be making your own life even better too.