When you hold that new baby in your arms, you have visions of the gifts you want to bestow on that little bundle. I'm not talking about gifts you buy; but gifts you give on life and love. We picture who we want them to be.
But then life happens. Dirty diapers to dirty rooms. Toddlers to tantrums. And then they are teenagers. And in that chaos, it's easy to forget the gifts we wanted to share during their childhood. In the book, The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children by Steven W. Vannoy, the author rekindles those values to raise our children by...
- The Gift of Living Fully - "Children will only escalate their behavior when we force them to deny who they really are or what they are really feeling." We need to honor our children's feelings and not force them when to feel or not to feel. We need to experience our own feelings fully as we then model who are are as individuals. Ask questions like, "how do you feel about this?", "what do you think we should do?" instead of "don't cry" and "You're fine."
- The Gift Of Self Esteem - “When you have high self-esteem you are nearly invincible. No matter what happens, you still know that you are a good and capable person, that you can do what you need to do again and even better. You have a rich supply of inner strength. You approach every moment, every event, every interaction with an attitude of openness instead of fear, giving instead of taking, acknowledging your strengths rather than your weaknesses. You see abundance and opportunity instead of shortage and trouble.”
Healthy self esteem is like armor your children can wear against a cruel world. Show encouragement and let them build competence. This means succeeding but also failing. Help them find something that they are good at and can even master. Keep suggesting new activities until they find something that they are proud of.
- The Gift Of Compassion - “…being compassionate means coming from a special place in your heart and mind, appreciating and valuing everything and everyone’s place in the grand scheme of life. I know that’s difficult some days, so be compassionate with yourself, too, and acknowledge yourself for doing as well as you are.”
We must teach our kids to care, to be gentle with others and to see things from another's point of view. Of course we must model the kinds of behavior we expect our kids to emulate. Let them see you help out someone in need, be patient and kind.
- The Gift Of Balance “I want to set a model of balance – emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual balance. I want them to know that the journey of life includes both pain and joy, work and play. Each one teaches you about the other. They all keep a life healthy and productive.”
Ah, this sounds familiar. We are their model. We must live how we want them to live. Let them see you take breaks, play, live fully alive. If you lose your temper, acknowledge if you have been working too hard and neglecting your own self care.
- The Gift Of Humor - “Ah, the gift of humor. Not teasing, not taunting someone because they’re different or less powerful, but a genuine expression of joy at the pleasures and ironies and foibles of life.”
Laughter renews our soul and is actually good for our health. Humor adds color to the day and helps you enjoy the process of living. Kids who grow up without a sense of humor live in a state of fear and defensiveness. We must help our children find the humor in the world; without resorting to teasing others. Let your kids see you laugh at yourself and not take the world quite so seriously.
Don't let life get in the way of joy. Don't let busy get in the way of sharing what you value with your kids. If you want to go deeper and learn the other 5 gifts, check out The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children. My copy of it is yellow and tattered. It's one of those books that I keep coming back to as a reminder of the gifts I want to share with my children.