Friday, November 2, 2012
Inspiring Great Character Part V: What matters most to you?
In the Top Ten post in this Character series, I frequently mentioned teaching character by displaying good character. Have you ever thought about how your children see you? I can't say that I really had, until a friend told me of a little exercise she tried out with her kids. She asked them to tell her what she thinks is most important to her. Some of their responses inspired her to make some changes.
Later that week, I decided to try that out for myself. The conversation went like this:
Mommy: "Man-Cub, what do you think matters the most to me?"
Man-Cub: "Ummmm...good behavior?"
Mommy: "Okay, but not just about how you act, out of all the people and things in Mommy's life, what things do you think are the very most important?"
Man-Cub: (thinks carefully) "Loving God, and decorating when it's my birthday or Halloween or Christmas."
Now, while I was super happy that my child sees my quest to know the Lord, and amazed that he even notices the time and attention I put into decorating for special occasions, there were a few things missing from his assessment of me. First of all, he didn't say that he is important to me, or that his sister is. He pointed out that his behavior is important to me, but not that he himself is. He also didn't say that his father is important to me. I decided to ask him about Daddy.
Mommy: "Okay, that's great, thanks for answering! What do you think matters most in Daddy's life?"
Man-Cub: "Loving God, loving you, and making sure that I do the right thing."
(I would like to note that I think he said "loving God" again because of my hugely excited reaction the first time he said it)
Mommy: "What makes you think that loving me is important to Daddy?"
Man-Cub: "Because he always kisses you in the kitchen."
Again, there was good and bad to his response. I am so glad that he knows that faith is so important to his parents. I am overjoyed that he sees his Dad being affectionate and knows that his parents are in love. Yet, when it came to himself, he once again focused on the fact that his behavior is important to his dad.
I am really thankful that I asked my little boy this revealing question. It opened my eyes to many things. For starters, I am resolved to make sure that he knows that he is important to me just because he is my son. That I love him unconditionally, and that nothing will ever make him less important to me. I want both of my kids to know that they have great value and worth, not just because of their actions, but in spite of their actions too! I want my kids to see me being loving, respectful, and affectionate towards their dad so that they know that he is as important to me as I am to him. And I want to continue to show them that we both love God above all, and that our ultimate goal in life is to know Him and make Him known to others. Finally, I want to be sure that I don't focus so much on decorating and preparing for special events, that I don't enjoy them as well.
I intend to ask my kids this question about once a year, and I encourage you to do so too. Make sure that your kids see that which is most important to you being a priority in your life!