Article by Wendy McCance
I don’t know what it is about this particular summer, but it seems that my children are maturing into young adults so quickly it’s making my head spin. I have been reflecting on the lessons I have taught them over the years and what type of children they have developed into.
It occurred to me that there are a few lessons I am grateful to have taught my kids. these lessons have had a profound affect on their experiences and how they have handled themselves.
I hope the things I’ve taught my children might be helpful to anyone raising or interacting with a child.
1. Children need to learn how to enjoy their own company.
I can’t stress how important this skill has been for my kids to have learned. I have seen far too many people who have never learned to enjoy time by themselves and the devastation it has caused. When spending time alone, you learn so much about yourself. What your likes and dislikes are, how you feel about yourself and what makes you happy. This skill has given my kids so much confidence in themselves. It has also helped them to make good decisions.
2. Compassion for others and sharing are important, but so are your own feelings.
I’ve seen my kids go overboard trying to make others feel good. I love that they do this, but not when it comes in the way of their own happiness. One of my daughters would have playdates and she would do whatever the other child wanted to do. She gave and gave to a fault. The kid would leave and she would feel miserable. She didn’t do anything she had found enjoyable and was disappointed that her friend hadn’t asked her or insisted they do what my daughter might enjoy. My daughter ended up very popular with a group of kids she didn’t enjoy being with. She was popular because she didn’t rock the boat. She always gave in to their needs and ignored her own. She didn’t have friendships, she was more like a servant to the needs of other kids (though unintentional). She has since learned that her feelings matter. Give and take are the way to go for a healthy friendship.
3. Treat others the way you would like to be treated (especially with regard to your siblings).
My kids believe the philosophy of karma. What goes around comes around. They have done a good job of treating others kindly, fairly and with compassion. They have been able to foster friendships based on these beliefs. I’m lucky to have good kids with good friends. What I have pushed more than anything has been that having siblings is special. The way you treat them will be remembered and returned. I have seen the kids baby each other when one of them was sick or had a bad day. I have seen the kids comfort each other when there was disappointment or fear. I have also seen them go out of their way to celebrate their sibling and create special moments for each other. It has been the greatest gift that they have given each other and a gift for me to see as well.
4. Don’t judge others.
The kids have a great deal of compassion towards others. They seem to gravitate to those who look lonely, lost, sad or alone. I am grateful that the kids don’t avoid these people but embrace them and genuinely get to know them. You never know what’s really going on in someone’s head and actions can be the result of some trauma unknown to you. We have had many discussions on why someone might react in a certain way and what might be going on in their life. I have seen the kids become more generous with their time and motivated to want to give back. The kids have worked at places such as a food bank because they just want to help others. By not judging and taking the time to get to know people instead, they have become such well-rounded kids.
5. Have goals, plans to put them in action, and just do it!
From an early age, the children knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. For one child that career choice has changed as she has grown, but not her ambition and determination towards the finished product. Last night my oldest daughter sat down with me to discuss her plan for the upcoming year. She is almost done with high school and realizes that she needs to make some big decisions. My child is determined to not only write down what she wants to accomplish, but has been researching how to make her wishes a reality.
Kids need to have dreams and ambition, but they also need to continuously work on making those dreams come true. My daughter knows what she wants to do for a living. She understands that she will need a job so that she can pay for a car and insurance while she is in school. She has picked out the school she wants to go to and has a plan in place to make that decision possible. She is also aware of what place she would like to work while in school. She has networked and has a few people who can give her advice and a recommendation for her choice of employment. She is also practicing interview questions and how to write out a resume’.
The lessons I see as incredibly important are those lessons that begin to mold the kids into the successful, confident and happy adults they will one day become. I hope this information has been valuable. I would love to know what lessons you have taught your children that you are grateful they have learned.