As I was watching my wife goof around with my laughing kids this morning, I was thinking about how my wife and I are raising them, and how they’re not just our kids, but someone’s future family members. Several someones, or many someones, really. Somewhere out there, there just might be people that are going to be a part of their families, and mine as well.
My daughter may be someone’s wife someday. Perhaps someone’s mom. She may be someone’s daughter-in-law, someone’s sister-in-law. She may be someone’s grandma.
My son may be someone’s husband someday. Perhaps someone’s dad. He may be someone’s son-in-law, someone’s brother-in-law. He may be someone’s grandfather.
At such thoughts, some parents might blurt out, “That’s too much pressure! Why think about it? Why in the ever-loving world would you want to worry about such things?”
Why not think about it? I am not worrying about it at all, honestly. I think our kids have as much chance as anyone else’s kids at succeeding in life and becoming excellent adults, especially since they are excellent kids. They are kids that awe me with their minds and personalities. I feel privileged to know them.
Right now, they are our kids, not these future selves they will become. At the same time, I feel confident that it’s as beneficial for our kids that we keep in mind their future selves, as it is for their future families. And yes, it’s also true that either or both of them might not end up marrying and having kids, which is okay–even though I would enjoy being a Grampoo someday.
There’s a list of things I can be mindful of as my wife and I raise our kids. We are the farmers, and they are the crop. They need to get the right amount of water, fertilizer, and healthy soil. (Just don’t literally dump manure on their heads, they won’t appreciate that, unless they’re 4-year-old boys who think it’s stinky fun.)
Keeping in mind their future selves, a few things I would like to instill in their values, leading by example:
- Feeling confident enough to authentically say, “I love you, wifey!” or some form of affection, even if the kids might wrinkle their noses and follow that with, “Ewwwww! Gross!”
- Every day being a mushy parent, gushing over how much they are loved.
- Pushing aside or dropping the TV remote in favor of saying, “Want to go play HORSE with the basketball?” or something equally meaningful to the kids, who simply want our time.
- Living within our means financially, so that we’re not fretting about when each paycheck is going to get deposited.
- Treating our bodies and minds like temples to be respected and cared for, whether this is about food consumption, media consumption, or social interactions. In other words, avoid the junk, whether it is food or non-food.
- Being a PRESENT parent.
- The ongoing cultivation of compassion for all living things, even spiders. Although I may kill a spider, I feel guilty when I do, and I express a little remorse for it. “She didn’t belong in our garage,” I say, pointing to a Black Widow, “But I don’t feel safe leaving her around.”
I don’t think this is too tall of an order to have such a list as I do. Most of these can be implemented in daily demonstrations, leading by example. If I show it is important to me, they are likely to develop the same feelings of importance. I think talking about these values are important as well.
Already I see this mirrored in the actions of our kids. Just yesterday, Cricket got a box from his Noni, with a card and a Valentine’s gift. He’s six years old, and I expected him to ignore the card. He didn’t. He grabbed the card and he said, “It’s IMPORTANT that I look at the card FIRST, like at my birthday party.” and then asked his sister to read it aloud to him.
I love those kids. I think they’re going to be fantastic adults someday, and it’ll be really interesting to see how life unfolds.