Parenthood is dotted with moments of epiphany.
I had such a moment recently during what was a very unremarkable afternoon. My daughter, Nicole, was pretending to make cookies with her wooden cookie set and she looked up at me to ask, “Mom, would you like one cookie or two cookies?”
“Just one, please,” I replied.
She looked at me apologetically, finally saying, “Well, I’m going to give you two because sometimes we don’t get what we want.”
Her 3-year-old logic may have been a little flawed, but all I could think was, “What!? That’s what I always say. Wait, I imparted knowledge? I imparted knowledge to my daughter!”
This was a pretty big moment for me because most of the time I’m convinced all she hears when I talk is the squawky voice of the teacher in the Peanuts comics. But when Nicole handed me those two make-believe cookies, I knew that she actually hears and internalizes what I say.
So now that I know for sure that she is listening, what is it I want her to hear? What do I want to teach her?
I decided it boils down to two main things: to love others and to love herself.
I spend a good part of my day trying to help Nicole see the value in loving others. Basically, every interaction she has with another kid boils down to love. We share because we love. We hug after hurt feelings to show that we still love. We refrain from pushing the kid in front of us down the tube slide because even if it’s our turn, we love him.
And then, I want my daughter to love herself. I want her to know she’s beautiful inside and out and simply love herself to death. So I tell her. I tell her how kind she is, how she makes me laugh and how good she is to her unborn sister when she sings to my belly.
But all the talking in the world won’t be enough to teach my daughter how to love others or to love herself. I’ve got to make our home and our family and her life so filled with love that she has no choice but to pass it on.
What life lessons are most important for you to pass on to your children? How do you work to ensure they get those lessons?