You and Your Children: Making Memories that Last
Like a lot of people of my age, I am now caring for my elderly mother. With all its challenges, this time and place in my life does give me lots of opportunities to reflect on what it means to be a family; and more specifically, on all those wonderful childhood memories that have stayed with me through these years.
As parents, we want to provide the best possible home atmosphere for our children. So how do we instill in our kids the enduring values that they will carry with them throughout their lives? And what will our children remember about their time in our care?
The Number One Ingredient
Here's some good news: the one thing that our kids want most is the thing we have most to give: ourselves. Sure, your kids probably have a big wish list of the material things they tell you they can't live without. But long after all the expensive gadgets are forgotten, they will remember the times you spent with them, enjoying something together.
And that "something" doesn't have to be anything elaborate or expensive. My own list of lasting memories includes working side-by-side with my parents in our garden. Nature walks. Reading together. I think the lasting joy of these times came from the fact that I had my parents' undivided attention, and we were sharing something that we both loved to do.
A 21st Century Application
Try this: Sit down with your child and make a list. What are some things that you would like to do, if you could do anything you wanted? Just brainstorm together for a few minutes. Make sure that you include things that you would like to do together.
After you've both contributed to the list, read over it together and make some mutual choices. If your child wants to park you both in front of the Wii, don't say no. Just make sure that you choose some low-tech alternative for your preferred activity--preferably something that will introduce your child to a new experience. And it might even be something that will help him or her learn something new about you as well. ("When I was about your age, I started my own vegetable garden. Would you like to learn how to grow tomatoes?")
Whatever you choose to do, remember the important thing is that you are doing it together. In that precious atmosphere of love, security and fun, your child will learn the big lessons and values that will stay with them throughout their lives.