Last summer, my family completed an epic self-driving tour covering 16 states in two weeks. Ashley and I put our four sons (12, 10, 5 and 2) into a stinky van and started off-road hiking, which hit several national parks. And recorded more than 5,000 miles when we finished.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of complaints along the way, but there are also a lot of laughs. This is exhausting pressure and awesome. We have created a lot of memories that will last a lifetime, and the whole experience has given me a lot of thoughts about my childhood and the memories that my own children really endured.
As parents, we tend to emphasize things that are not important. Our children may not remember every detail of our home décor, or how perfect our landscape looks, or whether our refrigerator has a brand name or imitation. Let us focus on what really matters. If you want to know what your child will remember, here is:
Here are the seven things your child is most likely to remember (no specific order):
You give them the courage to try new things.
Childhood is an endless cycle of stretching and breaking outside the comfort zone. Whenever you hold their hands and give them the courage to take new steps, it gives them new confidence and gives them a lasting new memory. Help them to participate in sports for the first time, or to sing a song on the stage, or to do anything they once thought they would “never” do, not just to build their resume; it is building their confidence and Memories.
#2 is very important, but we sometimes ignore it. ..
The time you teach through the example, not just the words.
Children are always learning, but as parents, we don’t always realize that we always teach them something. They won’t always remember what you said, but they are very concerned about what you are doing. When your words are aligned with your behavior, they will remember. When your words are inconsistent with your behavior, they will remember. When you blow it (as we do) and you apologize and use your imperfections as a teaching moment, they will remember.
#3 is one of the most important responsibilities of every parent…
The time you make them feel safe (or the time you make them feel unsafe).
Every child has a loophole in their mind that needs protection. Your child will remember the moments you chase monsters under the bed, or pick them up after a nightmare, but they will also remember when your temper becomes a monster they are afraid of. Our children may sometimes see us angry because it is part of life, but when your child is with you, make your child feel safe at all times.
#4 Everyday is an important reminder to me. ..
You make time for them.
Your children don’t need you to be perfect, but they need you to be there. Children measure love mainly by paying attention to them. They need our full attention. The time you stop attending a tea party or going out to throw a ball or jump into a trampoline will remain in their minds and hearts forever. Take time to do small things with your children, because in the end, they will be the most important moment.
#5 is very important, it can change your marriage and family dynamics. ..
5. The way you interact with your spouse.
Our children form their perception of love to a large extent by observing how we treat our husband or wife. Try to have a marriage that will make them excited to get married one day. Give them a sense of security that comes from seeing their parents’ loyalty to each other.
#6 is more powerful than most parents realize.
6. Your affirmative speech and critical words.
The child’s heart is like wet cement, and the impression of early life will harden over time. Their sense of identity, ability, and even self-worth are largely determined by what you say to them in those forming times. Part of our work as a parent is correction and training, but even in the correction, let your words be filled with love, encouragement and positive reinforcement.
#7 is one of the greatest heritages that can be extended to children’s future children. ..
7. Your family tradition.
Children like spontaneity, but they also need predictability very much. They will love the “tradition” you build, whether it’s a weekly family movie (or game) night, a place that is often used for family vacations, a way to celebrate birthdays and special events, or any other special tradition. Intention to create some traditions that they hope will pass to their children one day.
For more tools to help you build a happy and healthy family, visit our new website DaveAndAshleyWillis.com
This article originally appeared here.