I was out walking the other day and I was thinking about the things I want to teach my son as he grows up.
He is under the age of five so my wife and I have our work cut out for us.
Fair warning, I have a feeling that this might be a subject that is brought up again as time goes on.
Establishing a Base
My dad (and mom too) and I had a great relationship growing up. He is a very hard-working guy. He has farmed for many years (still does) and had dairy cattle for many of the years. In fact, I feel a little embarrassed when I belly ache about my job when thinking about the “real” work he’s done.
I should have learned a lot more from him as he has great mechanical skills and can fix about anything. He’s from that old-school generation and unfortunately I was more attracted to playing sports and video games.
He did try to show me things but ultimately it was my fault because the interest just wasn’t there at that time. I do regret that looking back on it. Thank goodness for Google and YouTube now when we attempt DIY. My dad is a quiet guy and I share some of these traits. So we did lack a little bit in communication but I couldn’t have asked for a better role model. We get along great to this day.
Teach My Son Life Skills
So this got me thinking on what I can bring to the table as far as mentoring my son. Since I admittedly don’t have a lot of handyman skills, I am going to have to focus on being more of a communicator and teach him about how to survive in a society that is a lot different than when I grew up. Although times have changed, I believe that certain principles and practices still hold true. Let’s go over a few things aside from the obvious ‘be polite, have good manners, be kind to others stuff’.
1. Keep Positive Perspective
One of my main goals as a dad is to teach my son to think of the big picture and to keep everything in perspective. I know that when you are young and in school everything feels very serious. High school relationships that fail seem like the end of the world. I have to be able to get through to him that high school is just one small step of life. In fact many of the people that you go to school with you’ll never see you again after you graduate.
I hear stories all the time of high school kids committing suicide because they were picked on or had a relationship end. That just really upsets me because it shouldn’t be this way. Bullies will never be totally eliminated so it is the parent’s job to prepare their children for these situations. In fact, it is probably worse now with social media than anything that I had to deal with when I grew up.
2. Instill Proper Self Esteem
Self Esteem is crucial to a young child and it needs to happen early. However, just as it is fun and important to win at times, it is equally or maybe even more import to learn how to lose. Life is hard and I don’t believe that kids should always be coddled and get participation trophies. Society has gotten soft and our youth need to be aware of what the real world is like at a young age so they are not set up for a rude awakening once they leave the house.
Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be a drill sergeant but I also won’t be losing any games of 1 on 1 basketball until he’s 15 or 16. The grit and determination that comes from losing is needed for dealing with events in life.
3. You are Judged by the Company You Keep
My parents told me this often growing up and boy did this turn out to be true. Remember that bullying that I wrote about above? I hung out with some kids that were known to raise some trouble once in a while. Nothing very serious at that time but mischievous I guess would be the word. So of course everything that my friends did and the opinions that formed about them were also formed about me.
Now I’m not saying that I was a perfect angel but of course I will say that I was the best of the group. But nobody really knew that or maybe didn’t care. Being part of that circle meant teasing and looking down on fellow students that actually made the effort to get exceptional grades. How stupid were we? My son needs to know how people are judged and how I can relate as it happened to me.
Now did people’s opinion matter much in the long run for me? Not really. But it might for someone else depending on the circumstances. Everyone is wired differently and situations are not the same for one person to the next.
4. Teach My Son Patience
Who doesn’t struggle with this at times? I’m sure most people can relate. For example, after high school graduation, I really had no idea what I wanted to study in college. I just knew that I needed to go just because everyone else did. Which ultimately led to picking a major from a sheet of paper and then switching that major about a year and a half later to something else.
I am still in that profession that I switched to but am I really happy with it? No, not really. In hindsight, I believe I would have been better served to have waited a couple of years after high school to allow me to mature and have time to figure out a better game plan. It seems to me that so many graduates are really rushed into making life changing decisions before they are ready. All the while accumulating massive amounts of debt while in many cases, partying and goofing off instead of learning anything worthwhile.
If my son wants to be patient and take extra time to figure it out, that is fine by me.
Of course we have to throw finance in here too! Much like my dad taught me, it is crucial to live within your means. You shouldn’t drink champagne on a beer budget. And certainly he won’t be having either of those until the legal age ahem.
Since our school systems currently door such a poor job teaching personal finance, this job is on us. And quite frankly, I’m happy to do it. I would rather be the one instilling the fundamentals than a stranger who may or may not know what they are talking about anyways.
Parenting is obviously a tremendous responsibility. We all have to learn as we go but these points listed above will be a few that I focus on to teach my son. As I mentioned earlier, this could be a 20 part series!
What are the things that you want to teach your children??? If you don’t have kids, what have your parents taught you that made a difference in your life?