LITTLE THINGS MAKE THEM HAPPY – As much as we love playing video games and watching television, I have learned that my kids especially love it when I get off of the couch or computer and get down on the floor and just play with them. Whether it’s wrestling around with them, playing tag in the back yard, or hide-and-seek, they really enjoy that quality time with me. On occasion, I will pick up a few empty office supply boxes, whatever I can get my hands on from work and take them home. My son and I have a ball building whatever his imagination wants! He likes me to build a wall of boxes and crash through them like the Incredible Hulk!
When I go on business trips out of town, one of my favorite things to do is go to the library and check out TWO of the same book (and one set of two books for each day I am out of town). I give my son one of the books, and I take the other with me on the trip, and I read his bedtime story to him over the phone. He ABSOLUTELY loves this, and I think it helps him feel more secure even though I am not home…..yes sometimes my suitcase gets quite heavy from the extra books, but my son is worth it.
DON’T ASSUME – I have learned that it is not realistic to assume that my children know what I am feeling or thinking if I don’t voice it to them, such as saying I love you. We know our kids love us, but let them hear you say it to them. Confirm it to them, over and over again. If I as a parent do or say something wrong to my son or daughter, I make sure I apologize to them verbally. They likely won’t learn to be genuinely sorry for something if they don’t hear it from you. Just don’t assume, they need to know that it is ok to show and share those kinds of emotions and actions.
THEY WILL FOLLOW YOUR LEAD – I have learned that our children are watching our every move! Meaning that, they take on more of our habits, our disposition and temperament than we believe at times. I have learned that because my son hears me say “Yes Ma’am/Sir, No Ma’am/Sir” (I’m still a good ol’ southern gentleman at heart!) he has no problem saying the same to adults whether I am in his presence or not. My almost 2 year-old daughter hears me say thank you, and she has started saying thank you for everything! My son sees me open doors for everyone, so he now opens doors and holds them for people. He sees me being compassionate and giving, so he mirrors my actions and does the same……in his own way.
I am so thankful that my kids are learning manners, and developing a giving heart. Most importantly, they see me adoring my wife, and being a loving and supportive husband to her. I am hoping my marriage will be a great example for them to follow in the future and help them make good decisions on their future relationships. Whatever we, as parents, show them, whether it be good-natured, dysfunctional, or anything in-between, that is what they most likely will look for as adults because that is what they were exposed to as children. Give them positive examples to follow, and as best as you can, be proactive instead of reactive. It can make a difference.