Instead of buying your children all the things you never had, you should teach them all the things you were never taught. Material wears out, but knowledge stays.
All of us hope to enable our children to have a wonderful existence, free of trials and tribulations. Sadly, life does not operate like this and we are continually helping them to weather circumstances and obstacles that they encounter in their path through life.
Given the materialistic life that we hold so precious, we are inclined to purchase all sorts of things for our children that perhaps they do not need.
Whereas the pursuit of knowledge comes through so many independent discussions, conversations and experiences as to take a lifetime in our effort to share a significant portion of it.
When I was 19 and dropped out of film school, my mother shared a whole collection of these quotations with me in hopes that some of the lessons might stick. My choice to continue with them as an adult stems from a desire of wanting to share this kind of knowledge with my children. I don’t think any of my children read what I send anymore, but I continue to send it to them every day, along with the rest of you.
The older we get, the more we have wrestled with various circumstances in life and, in doing so, we arrive at various conclusions that are teachable so as to prevent another from having a negative experience that our having shared might have prevented.
There are so many ways of sharing things of value with our children. Many of those lessons require different kinds of approaches so as to ensure that the lesson is learned and will remain long-term. Some things are learned in an instant, as is the case when a catastrophe such as an automobile accident is narrowly avoided and everyone is in a heightened state of awareness. Something about how the parent avoided the accident can be mentioned in that brief moment and never forgotten over the course of a lifetime.
Contrast that moment of learning with any topic that a parent find themselves regularly having to remind their child about. Picking up the room, eating healthy food, not spending so much time playing games, etc. In moments like that, we become like Charlie Brown’s parents. All the kid hears is, “Wa Wawa Wawa Wawa Wawa,“ to which, they dutifully reply, “OK.“ (But nothing has been heard and nothing has been learned.)
One of the best lessons for teaching children is to get them out of their traditional environment and ask that all distractive media is turned off for an hour and take a walk through nature and just take it all in. There need not be a giant agenda to what is discussed on this walk, there only need be a specific lesson that is projected to be learned along the walk. If some tact is employed along the walk, almost any discussion can take place in a more organic format than any kind of sit down at home. With the distractions eliminated, the focus of attention increases proportionately.
The most important of all of the lessons in life that you can teach your children comes through modeling behavior. It is one thing to talk the talk but it is an entirely different thing to walk the walk. We all have moments in which walking the walk is more than difficult, sometimes excruciating. The answer is a recognition that in doing so, you are showing your children what it takes to be a someone of consequence who deserves their respect.
Raising children is the toughest job you will ever love. Buying them trinkets that your parents could not afford to buy you is tiny consolation. Far more important to bestow upon them values, morals, ethics, courtesy, diplomacy, chivalry, tenderness and compassion. If you feel that your continued presence in their life give them more access to developing these qualities, then in my opinion you are eclipsing anything that money could have purchased.