Past tense, if I had to answer the question of what is the most important life skill a parent should teach their children, I would have answered with something along the lines of kindness, respect, character, commitment, etc.
Furthermore, I would have also held up a blue, Lion King imprinted Pull Up along side the porcelain potty and described how I delivered an ingenious and convincing SWOT analysis on potty training to the four year old. Why? That was the focus of the day. The half bag of Pull Ups in my kid’s bedroom is a testament to the strong willed genetic predisposition my children are “blessed” with.
Current tense, I have more of a bird’s eye perspective.
Every single one of our children are strategically placed into a war the moment their DNA begins to replicate. For some, the struggle begins in the womb and the fight to live a whole life begins before the first breathe. Other children undergo environments and experiences that directly cause them to start life’s battleground on the front line with no training and no arsenal with which to defend themselves. The scary part is even those kids who have ideal circumstances are still failing to live whole, happy lives.
How do we as parents ensure that our children turn out okay? I ask myself this alot.
I don’t know if that is a realistic burden a parent should put on themselves. Do many of us ignorantly attempt to control their destinies anyway? Sure we do. So what can we do now while they are young and in the training stages of life that might make a real impact?
The most important life skill I want to teach my children is this:
Know what you will do when life gets hard.
The good times are fairly easy to navigate. The difficult times are the moments that define futures.
These are the conversations I’m now having with my kids, or, more accurately, ATTEMPTING to have with them.
“What will you do when things don’t turn out how you expected or when circumstances aren’t fair?”
“Bruh! I’ll go to college for a few years. It’ll be dope” Kid#1
What or who will you turn to when you experience devastating loss? How will you relieve negativity and sadness? What are the pros and cons of specific choices and paths?”
“Eat cheese puffs, go on my iPad with my headphones and watch videos” Kid#2
“Here are the options laid out for you clear as day my dears. Guess what kiddo? It’s your choice. My job as a mother is to steer you in the right direction the best way I know how, communicate what can happen in this life either through our choices or by mere circumstances and direct you to find the best coping strategies based on your personality and interests.”
“What’s coping? You know what I’m interested in mom? You buying me a cell phone because I’m the ONLY sixth grader without one.” Kid#1
The world’s definition of success and real success are two different things. I want your life to be a real success, but in the end, it is your choice.”
“Mom, you have a weiner.” Kid#3
“Mama isn’t perfect. She messes up sometimes and it’s okay for YOU to accept that you will never be perfect. Never use imperfection as an excuse not to do the right thing. I love you no matter what but I will hold you accountable. You have a lot to learn and I will help you.”
“I don’t know what this subject is but I don’t like it.” Kid#2
“This is who God is. He is real, this is why we love Him, here are examples of what He wants you to become and this is why you are valued and loved by Him.”
“Wait what? I wasn’t paying attention.” Kid#1
“There are also bad guys that will try to get you to make bad choices every single day. Some you can clearly see and some you can’t. There are good guys that will be there to help you along the way. Some you can see and some you can’t. Sometimes you are that good guy and sometimes you are that bad guy. You’re learning wisdom when you can recognize the difference and change behavior for the better.”
“Zombies are bad guys. I kill dem. I cut off dier weiner. Hi-yah!” Kid#3
So there you have it. I think it’s the most important life skill I want to teach my kids. I never said it was going to be easy!