So this post is kind of twofold but it is kid focused. My children are not my life but they are certainly at the center with their dad. All three of them have impacted my life tremendously. This is about the kids today. Maybe I'll talk about the husband another day.
One of the biggest things I want for my kids is for them to "never look back". This idea is from an article I read years ago. The point of the article was simple that when kids grow up confident, they will move forward in life and won't look back to their parents - because they know that their parents will always be there.
Think about that for a second, really think on it. Imagine, you wanted to be a stuntman. You would start with small stunts and work your way up to leaping off buildings. By the time you are flying backwards off buildings, there is one thing you are certain of - there will be something there to catch you. You would be okay with doing those stunts because every other time you've done them, you've been caught. You consistently fall but know you will always get back up.
Guess what? Parents are that safety net, the giant inflatable catching the falls.
Every time kids try something new, good parents are right there. Whether that something new is easy or hard; hated or loved; stimulating or boring, the kids need to know that their parents are there.
And every time we adults support them, those kids learn we are there.
At first they will keep checking to make sure but soon that will stop. Not because they are "too big" but because they know who's behind them. Who is there to catch them if and when the fall.
I want my kids to move confident throughout their lives, so much so that they don't need to see me or talk to me to know that I'm there should they want me there.
I believe that self confidence is crucial to leading a content, happy life - to succeeding how you want to succeed. I know from my own experience that my confidence wasn't that strong as a pre-teen. Then a made a series of choices from where I went to high school to joining the military. When I came home from the military, I felt the difference in how I perceived myself and it didn't matter what others thought. Then the addition of a supportive relationship to work out some more kinks and there are people I know today who cannot picture me as the person I was. Let's be honest, some of it is just growing up. But I wouldn't have made the decision to join the service without knowing my parents had my back. I had friends and teachers who told me that it was a bad choice and basically that I would be deployed and they would never see me again. It sucked. At home though, my choice was respected and that helped me push through the naysayers and navigate that minefield.
To this day, my military service remains (in my head) one of the best decision I ever made.
Not to say everyone needs to join the military (I wouldn't even recommend it to some people) but at some point we all make a choice, a decision, that is made infinitely easier or harder by the people standing behind us. And having the people who have been there your whole life behind you - that makes it easier.
So, in line with the idea of wanting to have confident children who grow into confident adults, they must first have an example.
Every action I take in front of my kids send them a message. A message about me, about adults, about behavior, about relationships.
My husband and I have never fought - no, I am not exaggerating. We both grew up in households where there was yelling and made an agreement not to have that in our house. When we disagree about something, annoy each other, or even hurt each others feelings, it is handled without a fight, without screaming. We handle our issues through honest communication - talking and listening. The biggest thing is honest. If a topic is "put to rest", we both have to agree to that and let it go (it does not become something to harp on 3 months later). We solve problems through calm conversation.
What do my kids learn when they see that?
I hope they learn how important a communication is in a relationship. How important honesty is in a relationship.
When I make a mistake, even to the kids, I apologize. Yes, I do say "I'm sorry" to my son and mean it. I hold myself to a set of standards of behavior and that includes admitting when I am wrong.
I hope they see and learn that lesson too.
I always say "please", "thank you", "you're welcome", and "may I?" Because how will they learn, unless they see someone else doing the very things we adults are always telling them to do. And yes, that does mean that when I forget, my 7 year old will correct me. I'm okay with that, since I correct him too.
This is why I part of why I want to be a better me. If I am constantly pushing myself to try new things, to explore my boundaries, then that is what my kids will see.
I don't hide that I go to the gym to go running - my son wants to come with me. I have to remind him he can't go yet but I'll take him once he's old enough. When I try a new food, I'll tell him about it. He is then more willing to try something new too. Just not too new because you know he didn't like it last time he tried it...in his batcave...when I wasn't there (Translation: Too new/strange looking, check back later). I'll take the victories I can get and we celebrate him trying new food.
Of course, as my daughter gets older, there will be different issues and different examples to set too.
I will seek to continuously grow and improve myself. Not out of shame, disgust, peer pressure, or any other negative reason. I will do it because I want to be better and more awesome than I already am. And I will do it, so they know that you don't have to be perfect to be awesome and amazing and ultimately to be you.