The parents at the first party told their son, they would buy whatever he wanted in order to have a great birthday party. The parents at the second party told their daughter they were having a party at home so she could have a great time outdoors with her friends.
The thing that stood out most to me when talking to the two sets of parents about the party was the difference in the attitudes of the parents. The first set of parents emphasized money and the things that would be needed to make their son happy. These parents thought happiness, fun, and good memories would come from the things they purchased for their son. The second set of parents talked about their daughters favorite people. They thought happiness, fun, and good memories would come from the people their daughter was around on her big day. which set of parents was correct?
In fact, both sets of parents were correct. Money buys things that make us happy. Things do make us happy. That is one of the reasons we work. We want the ability to get things. houses, cars, food, clothes, books, jewelry and toys make us happy. People make us happy. That is the reason we make friends, marry and have children. It is not a matter of finding a winner between money and people. It is important to realize that both make us happy and there is nothing wrong with wanting either or both.
Decide what your family values and stress that with your children.
Parents are their children’s first teachers. That means we have a great deal of influence that we must use wisely. If you want your children to value family stress the importance of family beginning when your children are young. There are ways to make teaching family values part of everyday life. When we find ways to do that, our children absorb the lessons without realizing that they were being taught. This is the idea behind educational games. When children do things they enjoy, when they learn, remember and absorb. Often all this happens without the children realizing they are being taught lessons.
One way to teach your children what you value is to use movies. Watch movies that have the values you want to stress in your family. When my oldest daughter was a girl of three or so, our family watched the movie Mulan. Our daughter enjoyed watching that movie over and over. There was one point at which she was watching that movie more than once per day. One of the themes in the movie was that children should bring honor to their parents. Her enjoyment of the movie made it possible for my husband and I to use the movie as a tool to teach our daughter to act in an honorable way in all she did. Today, more than sixteen years after she first saw the movie, we can ask her if she is being like Mulan and she will know we are asking if she is being honorable.
The dinner table is another place where we can teach our children what is important and what we value. Dinner table conversations are wonderful because there is something pleasant and relaxed about sharing a meal. For many families, coming together at dinner, after a day at work and school is a chance to relax and share stories of the day. Often, the relaxed, informal atmosphere allows children to share what is going on in their lives. Parents who listen and encourage conversation ill be in an excellent position to influence how their children see and interpret the world.
At our house, at dinner, each person around the table gets to share the thing they liked most about their day. We start with one person and go around the table. Each day a different person gets to be the first to share. These conversations have done a lot to teach us what each person values, thinks is important and wants from life. These dinner conversations have enabled my husband and I to tailor later discussions. Interestingly, our children added to our dinner conversations. They started breakfast conversations where everyone around the table gets to share their dreams. This was something they created all on their own because they liked the dinner conversations so much.
Yet another way to influence your children is family game night. It doesn’t matter what the game is – a board game, bowling, video game or laser tag or any other. There is something wonderful about a family relaxing and playing together. Play is a way to teach your children about teamwork, competition and consensus building. It is also a way to slip in conversations about things you value and want your children to value. During play, children are happy and relaxed. By being subtle, parents can use playtime to teach family values and life lessons.
Our children are precious not only to us, but to the world. Look for opportunities to pass along your values to your children. You can find serenity in teaching your children what you value. So, the question for you this serene day is, how do you teach your children what is important in life?