As parents, extended family or caregivers, we are always reminding our kids of what to do and how to be. It’s not only little stuff like pick up your toys, chew with your mouth closed and sit up straight, but we guide them to grow up to be better than the behavior we may be seeing before our eyes. One way to think about your family mantra is by defining your and your children’s character—what makes someone who they are. Children need direction and parents may feel annoying by providing relentless reminders, but it is our job to build them up to be positive, upstanding, moral human beings. The very things that annoy them the most will be the advice they will grow up to value and appreciate (even if they let on otherwise now). Character is much easier to mold at an early age and much harder to reinvent as we get older. We are who we are at the end of the day by the examples we see and the advice we receive.
My parents used to instill in me the following:
♥ Treat others how you want to be treated
♥ Find the good in people
♥ Kindness prevails
♥ Keep an open heart and forgive
♥ Never give up especially when things get hard because hard work will always be rewarded
♥ You are expected to do well
♥ Do everything with excellence and give it your all
♥ Don’t force it if it does not feel right
♥ Tell us if you are ever in trouble
♥ Be honest and trustworthy
♥ Respect your elders
♥ Give back to the less fortunate
♥ Keep your family first
♥ Love each other and be grateful
I am sure you were raised on ideals that have stayed with you to this day. You may even hear your children repeating some of them, and then you know it really must be resonating. It does not matter what is most important to your family unit—you may have one or several mantras, mottos or phrases that are incessantly referenced and that represent your family. Keep at it! Kids need repetition and we are not here to be their friends (at least while they are young). After all, we just want the best for them and are trying to help them grow up to be great people (or at least that should be the goal). The world needs more individuals who will be valued for their fine character. The hope is that our children will learn from our mistakes and have an appreciation for the sacrifices made by those before us. We cannot take that in vain and must remember to honor basic decency toward one another. So, keep imparting your wisdom—whatever that might be.
Find what defines the essence of your family. Stay focused on the long game. Do not relent on what is important to you and how you want your kids to grow up. I encourage you to define your family mantra. Figure out what matters most. If you showcase and reinforce your values, you and those around you will forever be changed and grateful.
Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.