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5 Gifts Every Parent Should Give Their Child

August 20, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I embarked on writing 150 Things Everyone Should Do Before Graduation I thought of the biggest gifts I’ve gotten and those I try to pass along.

There are many people who provide their children a nice home, food and “things.” The latest tech gadget? They have it. Video games or new music? They have it at release. Yet many of these gifts skip the most enduring ones. These are gifts that are used for 10 years. 20 years. 40 years. They develop a child’s life in a much bigger way than “things.” And none of them cost money.

Read to them. Barbara Bush famously selected literacy as her ’cause’ during her time as First Lady, and that continues not only in the bond it can create but the tools it gives a child. Establish a routine to make it a special time. Let kids see you reading and learning. Mrs. Bush told of meeting a young father in a library. “We talked about raising children, and he said ‘I wish I could give my daughter more – a nicer home, prettier clothes.’ And I told him, ‘You’re already giving her the most valuable gift of all.”

Unconditional love. No matter what never give the impression that love is conditional. “I love you if….” is not love, it’s bargaining. People don’t always act like we want them to act, but it doesn’t mean we stop loving them. Listen to them, share with them.

Be a role model. This includes at times when you think the kids aren’t watching. When the waitress gives you too much change, or when you lie to the officer or make excuses for not doing a better job. They learn that, good or bad! After all – if mom or dad does it that MUST be right! This can mean apologizing, asking forgiveness when wronged and other actions.

Self esteem. Let the child succeed! Don’t say “go clean your room” – what does that mean? How do they know when it’s done? Instead say “please pick your clothes up, and tidy up the top of your dresser.” It’s clear and tangible. Let them make mistakes and make them pay the consequences. Make it easy for them to learn to succeed. Empower them with choices. They don’t always need to win, but do need to do their best.

Humility. Accept losing. Guess what – the world sucks sometimes! People get fired, things to wrong…the kid that doesn’t make the team learns something that lets them get through the really tough things. This is how to get back up and try again, smarter and better. It’s looking honestly at mistakes, owning what was wrong and going on.

These are things that happen over time. It is gifts that really matter and equip the child to deal with the world no matter what happens. It’s learning lessons that allow them to process and not be a headline maker. Of all the gifts that can be bought the most lasting don’t cost money – it comes from the heart. Those are the best gifts of all.

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