I don’t know about you – but one of the things I struggle with as a mom is trying to balance all the values I want my children to have. I want them to be responsible and have work ethic – but I don’t want to push them too hard. I want them to have respect for others – but I want them to enjoy their childhood and be light-hearted. It’s a struggle to constantly find balance. If you’re reading this – you probably know this struggle! When I find myself in that place of doubting myself, I try to assess whether I’m teaching my kids these eight core values I want them to have. I try to find a balance between them all because none of them stand alone. A person with drive will not be happy without the confidence to succeed. Likewise, a person with confidence who cannot accomplish things in life will drift aimlessly. Above all, I want my children to love deeply because without companionship and friendship, life is empty.
I don’t want my children to have limiting beliefs.
When I was in my twenties, I didn’t even know what limiting beliefs were. And if you had told me what they were, I would have denied that I had any. But as I hit my thirties, miserable in my job and trying to start over, I quickly realized that I had them.
Limiting beliefs are beliefs about ourselves that hold us back and stop us from achieving our true potential. If you’re like I was ten years ago, you may be thinking – oh, I don’t have those or I’m successful so I don’t think that applies to me. Trust me, there are probably some in there.
Have you ever started a sentence with the words “I can’t” or “I could never” or “I’m not” . . . and then finished it by saying you’re not worthy of something? Maybe it’s a skill or the ability to achieve something?
If you have uttered one of these phrases (frequently), you have limiting beliefs. The truth is that we can all achieve greatness. The biggest thing that stops us – is our own mind. Sure we all have strengths and weaknesses. But weaknesses can be made strong with education, training, practice, and growth.
Children shouldn’t have limiting beliefs.
Children are still developing. They are still finding their way in life – deciding what they want to do most and what feeds their soul. They aren’t locked into anything. They are still developing.
The world should be our oyster (as the expression goes).
By the age of 18, we expect children to pick a college, pick a course for their life, stay the course, work hard, and accomplish their dreams. Yet so few people pick the right path for themselves on the first try.
So if and when my children realize they want a new path in life – I don’t want their limiting beliefs to hold them back. While they are still developing, I want them to feel like they can be anything – professional sports or whatever their heart desires – as long as they are committed to working hard to achieve it. I want them to see a weakness and think that they can overcome it with hard work, determination, and grit!
I want my children to have a strong work ethic.
Nothing in life is free. Money comes from hard work and determination. Success comes from the same place. And putting our best foot forward and working hard at whatever we do in life brings a sense of pride.
Without work ethic, the world is a scary place.
Without work ethic, it’s nearly impossible to overcome our individual weaknesses.
It’s impossible to grow as a person. And it can be extremely difficult to succeed in any area of our life.
The thing is – most parents would automatically have this on their list. But have you ever thought about how important it truly is?
Marriage is work.
Raising children is work.
I don’t know about you – but being married and raising my babies is 100% a form of work. Now don’t get me wrong, I love it more than I can put into words. And it’s a different kind of work. I’d spend every minute working on my marriage and raising my babies if I could. So it’s not the same kind of work as a career, but it requires the same level of diligence and dedication.
So without a strong work ethic, what does a family unit look like?
So when it comes to raising my boys with a strong work ethic – that work ethic has to be present in every area of their life. They need to be their best self when they show up to do something – whether it’s chores, a job, their education, or their relationships with friends. And you can bet that I’m honest with them about how hard life can be.
For example, I acknowledge their feelings when they have a fight with a friend, but I encourage them to immediately recognize that relationships are work. Giving forgiveness is hard and therefore, is a form of work. But the reward of building strong friendships is worth it! Helping kids see the reward for the work they put into every area of their life is so important – because not all rewards come in the form of dollar bills.
I want my children to understand the value of time.
In my twenties, I used to think that money was one of the most important things that was wrong with my life. I had a ton of debt from going to college and graduate school. If I could only make more, I’d be less stressed. If I could just get ahead, then life would get easier. I worked myself to the bone, putting in 60 hours each week.
As my babies became toddlers and then they my oldest started to creep toward being a teenager, I realized I had been wrong about what mattered most. Because I’ll never get that time back.
Sure, working the extra 20 hours each week helped us buy a bigger home, which brings me some amount of joy. But I can’t replace those hours each year when they were growing up. I now realize that time is so much more valuable than money. I’d trade our home for a smaller, older home in a heart-beat if it meant I could go back in time and have my oldest curled up on my lap to read another bedtime story.
All you have to do is turn on the radio and chances are, you’ll hear a song written about how precious time is.
So while I want them to have a strong work ethic, to achieve their dreams, and to pursue a path that brings them joy, it is so incredibly important that they don’t lose sight of how precious time is.
In addition to impacting their choice of a career, the value of time should also be a factor in their spending habits. When I was younger, what I chose to buy was a question of – can I afford it. Now, I ask myself – how many hours would I have to work to pay for that and is it worth that sacrifice of my time. That my friends – is a VERY different question!
So I hope my children value their time more than a dollar bill.
I want my children to drive their life.
I’ll never forget when I was talking on the phone with my best friend. It was five or six years ago. I was sobbing, telling her how much I hated my job and how much I didn’t want to keep doing it. So she did what any good best friend would do – she told me to quit.
While that sounded wonderful from an emotional standpoint, I couldn’t fathom doing it. I had a mortgage to help my husband pay. I had obligations. I wanted to give my children the world as far as opportunity – whether it was attending a sports camp, having nice shoes, going on vacations, or whatever our priorities were in the short-term.
Now – obviously quitting my job was not an option. And I’m not suggesting that anyone reading this do that – or encourage their kids to do that.
But what I was missing – was the fact that I am in control of my life.
Everything we do (or don’t do) is a choice.
Continuing to work a job we hate is a choice. Not doing something new is a choice.
God had a different plan for me. Things happened in my life that were outside my control that led me down a new path. Now, I am in a different place than I was six years ago. Looking back, I realize how blinded I was. We all have a choice. And there are many, many opportunities out there. We live in a wonderful country where we have freedom and opportunity at every corner.
If there is one huge mistake in my life I don’t want my children to repeat – it’s not realizing that they drive their own life. They choose their own path. And every day, they have a choice.
I want my children to love hard & forgive often.
Loving people can be easy, but forgiveness is much harder. But the thing about forgiveness, is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
I used to be a master at withholding forgiveness. Trust me – contrary to any advice I give in any of my blog posts – I am FAR from perfect. Any wisdom I have came from decades of making mistakes.
What I’ve come to realize is that withholding forgiveness doesn’t hurt the other person, it hurts the person withholding it. It’s pure, toxic, poison.
I wish I had learned to give forgiveness sooner. But like so many things in life – some things we have to learn the hard way. Maybe that’s how it will be with my kids – only time will tell.
But for now, I am doing my best to instill this value in them while I can. Will they leave the nest, love everyone and forgive easily? Probably not. But I hope what I’m doing as their mother now will help them find their way back sooner or later.
I want my children to remember the golden rule.
I feel like the Golden Rule was something that was often talked about when I was a kid. And lately, it seems to be off people’s radar more and more. I’m sure the country in turmoil is not helping that perception.
If everyone followed the golden rule more often – to treat others as they wanted to be treated – I truly believe the world would be a better place. Not perfect. After all, we all want something different – right? And we are all human and flawed. But I see a couple hundred things each day that would be different if we all followed this rule.
Once again – please don’t think I’m sitting on my high horse. I regret actions and statements . . . every. single. day. Multiple times per day! I am human – we all are – and we certainly cannot be perfect. So my kids won’t be perfect either.
What I hope – is that they try. I hope that it’s a part of their thought process (at least most of the time).
I hope my children listen to God’s voice.
My own personal opinion is that God speaks to all of us. I believe that our conscience, is actually God speaking to us.
Sometimes the voice is louder than other times. Maybe it’s a voice of caution. Other times it’s a resounding, clear line we know we shouldn’t cross. It depends on the issue at hand.
Our world focuses so much on right & wrong, without recognizing how much grey area lies between the two. There are some things that are clear. Lying, stealing, cheating, and physically harming someone are very bad. Helping, forgiving, and donating to someone in need are very good. Resting (grey area) lies in between and can be good if it’s needed and warranted or it can be bad if it’s unnecessary, lazy and wasteful.
Trying to navigate life only with our brain is dangerous and in my opinion, will result in failure.
I hope that my children listen to God’s voice and trust in his plan for them. I hope that their trust in God chases away fear and anxiety where it’s not warranted. And I hope that it brings them to a higher place of peace, forgiveness, and gratitude.
I hope that my children take care of themselves too.
If all we do is work and take care of others, we become depleted. We all need to recognize the value of self-care (myself included sometimes).
My best friend always tells me – you can’t fill someone else’s cup, if your cup is empty. There is SO MUCH TRUTH to those words.
We need rest, joy, and to receive love as much as we need to focus on giving those things to others. We can only be our best self if we take care of ourselves. And mamas – listen up – because this life lesson will only be absorbed by your littles – if you practice what you preach!!! Read that again – take time for yourself!
I know that this post may read quite heavy. After all, it’s taken me 40 years to learn some of these lessons. I know my children will not be perfect – because they are being raised by me and I’m far from it. But I hope and I pray that these values stick somewhere in my children’s personalities and in their minds. So that when they start their own, independent journey in life, I’ve equipped them with some skills to find it faster than I did. Because the day they leave to start their own life will come far too quickly.
After all – that’s the goal – right? To do a little better than the generations before us so that they have it a little better. No matter how much or how little I succeed on instilling each of these values that matter most to me – I hope that my children feel safe and loved.