This past summer, my family made an epic road trip covering 16 states in two weeks. Ashley and I loaded up our four sons (ages 12, 10, 5 and 2) into a smelly minivan and embarked on a cross-country trek that hit multiple National Parks and logged over 5,000 miles by the time we were finished.
As you can imagine, there was LOTS of complaining along the way, BUT there was a lot of laughter too. It was exhausting and stressful and AWESOME. We made a ton of memories that will last a lifetime, and the whole experience caused me to think a lot about my own childhood and the memories that will really endure for my own kids.
As parents, we tend to stress about things that don’t matter all that much. Our kids probably aren’t going to remember every detail of our home decor, or how perfect our landscaping looked or whether our refrigerator was stocked with name brands or generics. Let’s focus on what really matters.
Because this is what your kids will really remember about you.
Here are the seven things your kids will most likely remember about you (in no particular order):
1. The times you gave them the courage to try something new.
Childhood is an endless cycle of stretching and breaking outside of a comfort zone. Each time you hold their hand and give them the courage to take a new step, it gives them new confidence and it also gives them a new memory that will last. Helping them play a sport for the first time, or stand on a stage to sing a song, or do anything that they once thought they could “never” do, isn’t just building their resume; it’s building their confidence and their memories.
#2 is so important, but we’ve all lost sight of it at times...
2. The times you taught by example and not just words.
Kids are always learning, but as parents, we don’t always realize that we’re always teaching them something. They won’t always remember what you say, but they’re paying VERY close attention to what you do. When your words line up with your actions, they’ll remember. When your words are inconsistent with your actions, they’ll remember. When you blow it (like we all do) and you apologize and use your own imperfections as a teaching moment, they’ll remember.
#3 is one of the most important responsibilities of every parent…
3. The times you made them feel safe (or the times you made them feel unsafe).
There’s a vulnerability and a need for protection in the heart of every child. Your kids will remember those moments you chased the monsters from under their bed or held them after a nightmare, but they’ll also remember the times when your temper became the monster they feared. Our kids are probably going to see us angry sometimes, because that’s part of life, but make it your mission to make your children feel safe and secure at all times when they’re with you.
#4 is an important reminder for me every day...