Last Sunday we went out for lunch to celebrate my brother’s birthday. In addition to me, my wife and two boys there was my brother and his wife plus his twin son and daughter, our dad and my brother’s parents-in-law.
During lunch we were talking about kids (as we do) and as I occasionally like to do, I asked our eldest who is three months short of turning six questions about when he’s older. On this occasion I asked him how many kids he was going to have when he is a grown up…
“I am going to have three kids…”
He was pretty confident with that response holding up three fingers to show everyone. My wife and I smiled at each other and then before either of us could say anything he piped up with this;
“But only if that’s okay with my wife.”
Now let me say that again. This kid is not yet six years old and he already knows that there are two people in a relationship who have an opinion, and his is not greater than that of his future partner.
And whilst I can be pretty happy in the knowledge that he’s got that whole “respect for women” bit down, it’s not just women but his fellow man that he has this respect for. Although he has his blow-outs as you’d expect any child would, he is great at sharing with his friends and little brother so I know that we must be doing something right.
And sometimes that’s what you need to do in this crazy world of parenting. Sometimes you need to take stock of the positive aspects of your child’s life rather than always worrying if they are at the top of the class, or at least above the grade average, if they are they going to be a sports star or a great singer, or if they’ll do you proud in any way whereby you can live vicariously through them.
You might remember the worldwide viral sensation from back in July 2013 where David Vienna from The Daddy Complex suggested a parenting technique he called the CFTD method. It’s a great technique to use in many situations when you are a parent.
When I count my blessings or little victories rather than getting caught up in my failings or the kids’ faults I am a much more happier parent and I hope that my happiness rubs off positively on the boys.
I created a meme of my own last year using a photo of our youngest son crawling along a beach on the Gold Coast in Queensland which reads;
“How you raise your children doesn’t just affect them, it affects everyone in the world in which they live…”
I stand by that. And that is why above many other things I teach the boys respect. Not respect for elders (that’s a pointless exercise which I intend to write about later), but respect for other people, and respect for their things. Just this afternoon when my eldest son ran into a neighbour’s front yard to walk on their “really cool wall” (his words) I told him that you can’t do things like that. Respecting other people means respecting the things that they own.
It also means respecting public places. It means making sure you don’t leave rubbish behind. It means making sure you don’t graffiti or destroy public property. When you deface a public place, you are not just being disrespectful to those who own it, but also those who visit or use the facilities. That is my number one thing I want to drill into our sons.
What happens after that, how they treat others, I’m sure that if they can respect an inanimate object, they can have a millions times more respect for a living thing or another person.
And once I’m done teaching them respect I’m going to sit back and count the days until I become a grandpa…
At least three times…
As long as their wives agree…
What do you believe is the most important thing you can teach kids?