Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Most of us feel like we are falling short as parents. We all wish we had more time, more money, more (fill in the blank) to give our children. But the greatest gift we can give our kids is love. None of us does it perfectly, of course. But our love is what will shape our sons and daughters more than anything else we do as parents. What follows are several ways you can love your kids by helping them develop healthy independence and self-confidence.
Teach your kids it’s okay if they don’t adopt all your beliefs, values, views and opinions. Express confidence in their ability to work out their own ideas and points of view. Let them know they can question what they hear. Stress the importance of being open-minded and teach them the skill of critical thinking.Let your kids know that their deepest thoughts and feelings are worthy to be expressed, heard and understood.
Create a safe space for your kids to be authentic and real. Don’t judge them based on what they “should” be thinking, feeling, and experiencing; get interested in what they actually are thinking, feeling, and experiencing. Don’t think you know everything. Be willing to see and understand the world through their eyes and experiences. The world is no longer what it was when you were growing up; it’s time to truly understand their world.
Instill in your children timeless virtues such as wisdom, justice, integrity, hard work, compassion, and the inherent and equal worth of every human being. Teach them to respect others, and not to demean those who are different. Encourage them to avoid labels, generalizations and stereotypes, and to press deeper than the surface to touch the humanity in others. Let your kids know that being “good” doesn’t automatically mean being obliging, docile, meek, inhibited, compliant, and restrained but could also mean being passionate, original, heroic, and nonconformist.
Let your kids know that there is no higher aim than to live life well, and that the greatest joys of life are naturally available along the everyday paths of life. Help them understand that happiness is not something you "find" or suddenly appears, but a reality you cultivate through daily choices. Help your kids appreciate the value of simplicityand to understand that more isn't necessarily better. Let them know that fame and fortune are not reliable paths for well-being and happiness. Teach them there is no substitute for dignity, self-respect and living honorably.
Tell your kids everyday that you love them unconditionally. Find them doing things that are right and good. Be liberal in your affirmation. Let them know they don’t have to be perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes. Admit your own mistakes. Tell them they are beautiful inside and out and be specific about what you see that is good and beautiful about them. Let them see your own passion for life, love for yourself and others, and your exampleof goodness, wisdom and virtue.
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