Our children are our most important legacy to the world. However, our love is our most important legacy to our children. Here are seven ways to show love that will help children build sturdy foundations for the future.
1. Spend Time with Your Children.
Time is the most loving gift we can give to our children. It allows for the mutual exchange of ideas, emotions, actions, and words that help our children develop and learn to communicate.
Enjoy a toddler's tea parties as well as a teen's ball games. Help your children build things and create art. Begin new family traditions that you can enjoy together each year. Ample time spent in mutually enjoyable activities will create memories you will always treasure.
2. Be the Primary Role Model for Your Children.
Children need examples to follow. Teach practical values to your children by modeling those values. Admit when you have made a mistake and apologize. Model being committed to the ideals you embrace. Demonstrate the advantage of integrity over peer pressure.
We teach and influence children more through actions than words. We are our children's first heroes; the ideals that we live today are the ideals that will influence our children throughout life.
3. Listen to Your Children.
A child's message is one of his or her most essential gifts. We build self-esteem in children when we show interest in what they have to say. Children need to communicate their pride of accomplishment as well as their needs.
Get down at eye level with very young children and listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. Listen most of all to the feelings conveyed through a child's eyes and expressions. If you listen to your children deeply, they will grow up listening deeply to you.
4. Provide Your Children with Loving Discipline.
Children need guidelines and safe boundaries without being constrained unnecessarily. They need to learn the value of being accountable for their choices and actions.
Let your children know that you disapprove of hurtful actions but will always love them as sons and daughters. Loving discipline enables them to recognize the best in other people. It allows children the freedom to explore the world safely and reach their highest potential.
5. Give Your Children Encouragement.
Encouraging words are powerful emotional deposits of confidence and self-esteem. Verbally acknowledge your children's special talents and accomplishments. Catch your children doing something great, and tell them what a great job they have done.
Children need to know that we recognize and support their hopes and dreams for the future. Encouraging children to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually provides the foundation for living a balanced life.
6. Share Your Experiences with Your Children.
We each have valuable stories to tell, unique maps of our journey through life. These stories tell how our reactions to events created the life we are living now. Sharing the benefit of your experiences — the roadblocks and rewards — is a very loving way to guide your children.
Your children may face many of the situations you faced. Your experiences can help them make informed decisions and avoid unnecessary mistakes. Among the most worthwhile possessions that we can someday leave for our children are journals filled with the stories that shaped our lives.
7. Love and Support Your Children Unconditionally.
Love is an unconditional gift from the heart; it is not a reward for good behaviour. Let your children know that you will love and support them in any situation. This message creates a sturdy bond of trust. Your children will grow to feel safe in coming to you with any problem they face.
Children need the freedom to make decisions, try new things, and learn that life requires personal responsibility and persistence. They need the freedom to fail and learn from mistakes without being judged. Unconditional love helps them to acquire the decisiveness and resiliency required to become successful.
If you could sum up all of our children's needs, hopes, and expectations in one word, that word would be love. We share love when we play a central role in our children's world of learning and discovery. Our legacy of love will have a guiding influence upon our children and grandchildren for many generations.
~ Steve Brunkhorst