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Encouragement Article

5 Lessons For My Children


Parents want the best for their children. We wish, and some try, to make their kid's daily decisions to shield them from the potential pain or letdowns of life. We don't want to see them get hurt. We believe we know what is best for them. That, however, is only because we have already experienced life's adversities. We have been shaped and molded by the trials of our own lives. If you continually shield your children, what happens when they are inevitably out on their own without mom or dad to step in? Because of this, we must teach them how to make tough decisions. Teach them how to traverse difficult life moments. Teach them how to live in a world that is not always going to be kind to them. Tough moments will happen, are your kids going to be ready to handle them?

Stemmed from this thought, I started to compile a list of lessons I would like to teach my children throughout their upbringing. Most are sayings my father would use as I was growing up. Simple words that hold great meaning and have served me well in life.

Here are 5 of them.

Be confident in what you know, but know what you don’t know

In the world today, too many people speak beyond their own understanding, exacerbate simple misunderstandings, or simply make up information in an effort to not look or feel inferior. However, in the effort to not look inferior, it comes across as arrogant and, well, like they are trying to make up for feeling inferior.

When you understand that you have reached your personal limit of knowledge, be honest and say so. It normally has the opposite affect than you may think.

It builds trust for you in others. It shows you're not trying to be something you're not and brings with it respect.

As an engineer, I work with some extremely knowledgeable people. One man in particular comes to mind whose level of understanding of systems, components, materials, etc. is well beyond my own comprehension and leaves me continuously in awe. However, I find myself most impressed when a subject or specific topic comes up and he says "I can't speak to that, I don't know enough about it." This, by far, earns more respect in my book than any amount of information he can recite on a whim.

Teach this to your children. It may not always be the most popular approach or win over certain people, but living with humility and understanding of who you are and what you know will win out in the long run.

People don’t remember the exact words you said, but they remember how you made them feel

I don't remember the setting or situations. I don't remember if there were other people involved or what sparked the lessons. However, on multiple occasions growing up, when teaching me the lesson of kindness and 'treating others how you want to be treated', I do remember the words of my father: "People don't remember the exact words you said, but they remember how you made them feel". In this case, it is a bit ironic considering it was the words I remembered, but remember them I do.

I remember those words as I interact with anyone and everyone, especially when my children are around and watching. More importantly, I remember them when I am interacting with my children.

Being kind doesn't cost a thing. It hardly takes effort. However, your small spark of kindness in a seemingly insignificant moment could be just what someone needs today. In the words of Robin Williams, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind."

As a Boy Scout, we were always taught to leave an area or campsite better than how you found it. Prior to leaving any camping event, the whole troop would form a line at one end of the site and walk side by side to the other. The whole way we would keep our eyes to the ground looking for trash or equipment we may have forgotten. Even if it was obvious that it wasn’t trash dropped by us, perhaps it blew in or was half buried from some time ago, we picked it up. The effort took less than five minutes but made an impact.

Now apply that to people. To your daily interactions. Why not go out of your way to leave someone feeling better than when you first saw them?

I enjoyed researching this saying in particular because it led me to learn about Maya Angelou. Maya was an accomplished poet & civil rights activist who worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. She wrote multiple books, plays, movies, and was the first female black director in Hollywood. The level and significance of her accomplishments is captured by this: "In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama... [and] awarded over 50 honorary degrees before her death." (Read more about her life: Poetry Foundation).

In all she did, in all she accomplished, through all the discrimination of being a black woman born in the late 1920s and living to the twenty-first century, she was still described as warm, genuine, and empathetic. She not only said these words, but lived them. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be kind in all you do and in turn make others feel loved and appreciated daily. Then teach your children to do the same.


You are who you hang around

Every parent wants their children to be surrounded by good people, good friends. Friends that will support them. Friends that will help them grow and not hold them back. Friends that hold them accountable and to a high standard, not ones that lower the bar to make them feel good.

There are many ways to state this lesson:

"You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life" - Unknown

"The people you choose to associate with determine a lot of where you're going in life." - Steve Harvey

"You become the average of the five people you hang out with." - Jim Rohn

"The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm." - Proverbs 13:20

My Dad would simply say "You are who you hang around." This always stuck with me.

Encourage your children to befriend others that will build them up. Teach them it is ok to end a friendship that is not of good influence. Not everyone is going to be their friend. Grow their confidence, build up who they are to try and reduce the human nature urge to "fit in". Remember that you are a large influence in your child's early life, but as they grow, their friends take over more and more of that influence. Start early. Be intentional.


Don’t complain about the equipment

Whether it was losing a hockey game in 7th grade or failing a test in college, excuses become our best friend. It's either "my skates weren't sharp enough, I couldn’t cut on the ice all night" or "that professor didn’t give us the proper tools or study material necessary to pass, the test was unfair". In any scenario, it's easy to play the victim and act like we weren't the ones in full control of ourselves, actions, and subsequent outcome.

If you want to be the best, score higher, out compete, or ace the test, it's not going to be the 'equipment' that gets you there.

If you fall short of your goal, it's not the equipment's fault.

It comes down to the effort you put in. You must out work your competition, not out buy them. You can purchase the most expensive receiver gloves, buy the top of the line basketball shoes, spend extra money on tutors and study material, but in every scenario, unless you also put the work in, none of those items will push you beyond your current limits.

Instill a work ethic in your children that allows them to thrive no matter the dollar amount spent. Teach them to succeed in-spite of subpar equipment, funding, or resources.

Don't make excuses. Don't complain about the equipment. Work harder.

Don’t do something stupid to be cool

Bluntly stated, but effective, this one goes along with 'You are who you hang around'. Continuing on the importance of building your child's confidence, help them figure out who they are so they don't feel the need to pretend in order to impress. In this case, so they don't have to do something stupid to get a cheap laugh and try to make others think they are cool.

Encourage your child to find friends who like, love, and respect them for who they are and don't feel as though they have something to make up for.

As a kid, it can be hard to make friends. Sometimes, doing something off-the-wall or silly can be a good way to break the ice. However, pay attention and learn your child well enough to know if they are simply a goofy kid or putting up a front.

Too many times kids hide behind a persona because they are scared of how the world would respond/accept their real self.

Remind them of how beautiful they are, how proud of them you are, and encourage their inner personality. They don't have to "do something stupid to be cool" or be someone they're not to be accepted!

 

At the end of the day, I pray my children are confident and kind in all they do. As they grow, I will be slipping in these lessons when and where appropriate. Hopefully, they will stick as well as they did for me.


Honorable Mention:

Don't fry bacon naked.


Well, that one is pretty self-explanatory...

More to come.


Be Present. Be Intentional.

-Chad Vrla

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