We teach our kids values, either on purpose or by default. Sometimes it’s a case of “Do as I say, not as I do!”
It’s not always serious moral values we want to impart. Maybe it’s the love of watching the Stanley Cup Play Offs or knowing that Star Trek is better than Star Wars (or vice versa!)
It goes beyond kids, too. By example – positive or negative – we also model behaviours and values to adults, whether it’s our co-workers, friends, spouse, or even our parents.
Some of the things we did together when my child was young (starting around age 1) were putting things away and cleaning up, sitting down together at a table for meals, visiting grandparents regularly and attending family reunions, and trying to recover quickly from little spills and upsets.
We often did things that were time-consuming and messy, just for the experience: baking, playing with bubbles, running under the sprinklers, planting seeds, painting.
Over the years, I did a lot of things very deliberately when I knew my child was watching: sorting the recycling, using ladders and tools, washing the car, mending clothes, making gifts.
Much later, I gave more thought to what I didn’t want to do: complain about all the candidates and refuse to vote, swear at drivers who cut me off, put things we couldn’t afford on credit cards.
I always put a very high priority on reading aloud, listening to music, going to free local festivals, and, of course, building things with LEGO.
Over the years I have trained a number of people in my standards for house cleanliness, balanced meals and keeping costs down. It’s not only kids who need some guidance in these matters!
In the past year, I realized I was showing up for work late, and I nipped that in the bud because, as a supervisor, I need to set a good example.
Over the past five years, I have spoken to my parents about LGBTQ issues every time they came up on the news or in conversation – paving the way, as it were, for future news about their grandchild!
As a parent, you know you have to set a good example – well, maybe 80% of the time! Now I am finding it doesn’t end. As a spouse, a child, a friend and a co-worker, I still find lots of opportunities to gently demonstrate what I believe, what I value, and what I like. I can show it by how I spend my money, abilities, and especially my time and attention.
I think my loved ones can feel my love, time and attention. They know I care about books, reading, music, art, food, family traditions, toy robots and Lisa Simpson. They also know I am an irritating neatnik and I overthink everything and they had better not leave any candy lying around and expect to find it when they get back!
What have you taught your loved ones on purpose and what did they learn from you despite your best efforts?