The greatest gift you can give your children.
When building any structure, the most critical part is starting with a solid foundation. You could argue that other parts of the structure are just as important, though all discussions will ultimately return to the soundness of the foundation.
Would you ever consider building your dream home without a solid foundation? I would hope not.
Putting this philosophy to work in life, how important is it for our children to have a solid foundation when it’s time to leave the familial home and venture into the world?
Forgoing a solid foundation leaves our children vulnerable to the storms of the world — some self-inflicted, others thrown at them by the world. Either way, when the storms come — and they will — so goes their home (what they choose to build themselves), leaving them with the basics that were originally instilled in them.
Why all this talk about foundations? Recently I ran across an article on Medium by Benjamin Moore that had me reflecting on my children. His opening sentence was enough to encourage a trip into self-reflection and thoughts about my wife’s and my foundational efforts in raising our children:
“Who knows how many parents have carried the weight and burden of the guilt they feel because their children didn’t end up like they hoped and dreamed.” Benjamin Moore
If you’ve read any of my other articles, you know that I’m a proud father of six children. Being a father of six — or even a father of one child for that matter — comes the challenges that Benjamin mentioned above.
Our eldest is now 30 years old and our youngest is 20 years old, with the four others scattered in-between. During our crews formative years, my wife and I weathered a number of storms. Again, some of these storms were self-inflicted, while at other times the world did its best to batter their emotional and moral footing.
There were times when we were certain that their foundations had been cracked in some way, praying simply that they had held up. At times we just weren’t sure of how well they’d held up. Other times, we would thankfully look at each other in wonderment as their foundations would hold strong, even when the overlaying structure had vanished.
In raising our children, we tried our best to create an atmosphere at home where they could learn how to recover from life’s unfair assaults. We would teach and prod, emulate what we viewed as important, and then patiently watch as their foundation set-up and cured over time.
We taught simple principles, many which are common and familiar in most homes, and fortunately many that my wife excels at more than her husband (this guy).
The Golden Rule, respect for women (my sons), the value of work, serving others, morality, education, common sense (as well as this can be ‘taught’), the critical role of family, and the list goes on.
In our home we wrought to create an atmosphere making it okay to fail, but more importantly teaching that they could recover from mistakes and mishaps. Sometimes these falls were only worthy of dusting-off and standing back up. However, there were times when these falls required some serious intervention.
More than anything, we wanted our kids to learn how to recover and that falling was a part of life. We wanted them to realize that life can rarely strike a knock-out blow from which they couldn’t learn and recover.
Now that I’ve described being the perfect parents, let’s get realistic. Not everything was roses, for them or us. I’ve eaten some humble pie over the years and have had to learn and grow alongside them. I’ve weathered a few storms myself and ended up looking to see if my own roof was still attached. Luckily for me, my wife was there with a handful of shingles every time, shaking her head in quiet “I told you so” disbelief.
And if you’re a parent of grown children, you know that you’re job isn’t done once they leave the home.
Our jobs as parents, even after they’re out of our house, is to wait in the wings, carpenter’s belt strapped on and a handful of nails at the ready, waiting to be asked for help in continuing to build their homes.
That’s it. Easy-peasy, right? Believe it or not, you’ve probably done better than you think. Through it all, keep on LOVING them, supporting their good efforts, and their good choices!