Friday, October 29, 2010

The Things I Want My Kids to Know

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I look at the world and how the world views me.  I've also been thinking a lot about what kind of people I would like my kids to be.  So, I thought I would share some simple rules to live by that I have learned, mostly over the last ten years, but some of them very recently.  It would appear you never really stop learning.  When my kids are trying to make their way through this hazardous maze we call life, these are some of the more important things I want them to know:

1.  Not everything is about you.  Think about what might be going on with someone else before you assume anything about them and the way they're acting (or have acted) toward you.  If someone hasn't been nice to you, there might be a reason that you don't even know about and has nothing to do with you.  They might not even have said or done what you think they did.  Or it might be all about you, but for God's sake, pick the right way to go about addressing it.  Act maturely and you're more likely to get the reaction you want. 

2.  Treat other people the way you want them to treat you.  If you're taking an action that you would be mortified if you saw it done by someone else, don't do it.

3.  Always act like the person who means the most to you in the entire world is looking over your shoulder.  I'm convinced that if you thought your mother, your spouse, your child was watching your every action, you'd never do anything you might later regret.

4.  Treat the people you are supposed to love the most like you treat strangers (or, better yet, better).  I've noticed that most people are utterly polite and nice to people they don't know and tend to let fly with the people for whom they state they would give their lives, if in danger.  Do we really care more about what strangers think of us than our parents, spouses, children?

5.  Don't come home and kick the dog, so to speak.  If you've had a lousy day, take the longer route home.  When you get there, go for a walk or get into the tub.  But don't pass bad feelings along to your family.  They have no idea why you're being a jerk when you walk in the door with all that negativity.  Why not leave it at the doorstop and make your home a sanctuary of good feelings?

6.  Don't expect everyone to like you.  They're not going to.  I've told my kids over and over that no one is ever going to love them the way their mother does and it's true.  And for God's sake, if someone doesn't like you, don't waste your time trying to make them like you.  It's time you will never get back.  You're a unique, special person just the way you are and it doesn't matter if everyone likes you or not. 

7.  Remember that we're put on this earth for a limited time.  Make sure you do the things you really want to do, because you only get one shot at it. And yes, you're probably going to need a decent education for that.

8.  Don't be unrealistic in your expectations and don't assume that because you act a certain way, someone else is going to act a certain way back.  Other people are not you and can't read your mind.  Speak up if there's something you need or want and you may or may not get it.  But don't think that something's going to happen, just because you think it should.

9.  If there's something you don't think you can do, try it anyway.  You probably can do it and are just not giving yourself enough credit.  Or maybe you can't, but isn't it better to at least try?  You might surprise yourself.  Yes, it's a way to be disappointed occasionally, but sometimes you just might succeed and then you'll have something to be really proud of.  And if you fail, at least you tried.

10.  Most importantly, love yourself.  Yes, you're going to make mistakes.  Everybody does, because nobody always remembers (or even usually remembers) rule number 3 above.  Forgive yourself for your mistakes and move on.  Once you grow up, the world can be a hostile place, so treat yourself nicely.  After all, you want that from everyone else.  Why not start with doing it for yourself?

This is certainly not a finished list, by any means.  I am forty-six and still learning new things every day, so stay tuned.

6 comments:

  1. I sure hope that Nancy reads number 10.

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  2. Kari, isn't number 10 really the hardest one? Sometimes, it's so easy to just feel downright unlovable, but if we don't love ourselves, how can anyone else? This is a hard lesson for me and I'm still working on it. My mother always said I'm my own worst enemy and she was, as always, oh so right!

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  3. I love this post! I think I'm going to start my day from now on reading it before I say anything to anyone!! :)

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  4. Aw, Stacey, thank you so much!

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  5. Nancy feels unlovable just about every waking minute. If you ever met her in person, you would think she's crazy for feeling that way. She's very sweet. Makes no sense.

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  6. Kari, she seems very sweet and lovable on Facebook and I hope to meet her someday. Tell her to tape this list to your refrigerator and be nicer to herself.

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