As my 10-year old daughter sat behind the wheel of our modern-day family wagon, she approached the intersection, indicated her intent with a left turn signal, slowed to execute a safe change of direction, then proceeded onto the street, merged into the correct lane, and headed down the road. Excellent maneuver–great job!
There’s a planned, but unfinished residential neighborhood close to our house that has a completed street grid, but no houses. It’s a quiet piece of property. No traffic, extremely safe, and a perfect training ground for my future automobile driver. She’s not quite tall enough to reach the pedals, so she sits on my lap, steers the car, uses the turn signals, calls out street signs and waits patiently to pull out and merge with the imaginary traffic. We have a lot of fun. She does very well and I believe she will be an excellent driver one day.
Subaru has a cute commercial promoting one of their new vehicles (Gratuitous Subaru plug: We became new Subie owners this year and absolutely love our Outback!). The commercial has dad asking his toddler son if he wants the keys to the family car. We then zoom into the thoughts of the young lad as he envisions himself dropping dad off at work, running to the grocery store, haggling with a police officer over a parking ticket, pulling up not-quite-close-enough to the ATM, then finally sitting in a traffic jam blurting out in utter frustration, “C’mon, move it! You’re killing me!”
It’s a cute commercial. I smile every time I see it–because I’ve been in all of those situations and I feel his pain. But there’s also a scary side to this commercial that, because I’ve experienced all of those frustrations, hits a little too close to home. The scary thing is this: He knows how to react in those situations because he’s likely watched his parents time and again react the exact same way.
Think about your own experiences in the car, around the house, on the job, at the grocery store. What about the music you play or movies you watch? How about the people you hang around or your speech or mannerism? Do you act in a way you would want mimicked by your children? If you’re like me, the appropriate response is “Ouch!”
I’ve heard the phrase, “children are our future” for years, usually tossed about as a regretful admonishment. What kind of planet will we leave them? How big of a national debt will they face? It always points to a way off future when we’re no longer around. Though this line of thinking forces us to focus on a future that will be theirs to deal with, the reality is children are OUR future ; meaning, they can be the driving force behind creating a better life of our own…right here, right now.
Children look to their parents as the most trusted source of information–whether that source is good or bad; positive or negative. In their growing years, they don’t have the reasoning capacity to truly discern good outcomes from bad outcomes, so they follow the example of the people closest to them. They develop survival habits that are imprinted early on and carry those into their school years, to their soccer teams and Girl Scouts, through their college years and careers, and into their marriages and families.
Knowing then that our children are extremely likely to replicate in their own lives the behavior they see in ours, what habits in your life would you like to get rid of? What habits would you like to create? What kind of example do you want to be?
Do you want you daughter to be a great driver? Then you must start driving well. Do you want your son to be a man of upstanding character? Then you must live a life of integrity and honor. Do you want your children to be faithful to their spouse and have a fruitful marriage? Then you must do the same in your own. Whatever life you desire for your children, you must first live that life for yourself, otherwise it’s merely wishful thinking. Our children will face tremendous struggles in their lives–regardless of how they grow up. How much better then to be equipped to face and overcome those struggles because a proven model was lived out for them by their parents.
So what if your life doesn’t look like that proven model just yet? What if you didn’t grow up with a great example of excellent parenting? What if your role model was not the one you want to mimic? Then make the change now; the choice belongs to you. Eventually, as you begin to change your life to be the example and role model for your children, your life will begin to change and take on that greatness, fruitfulness, and vibrancy you so desire in your own children and you will be shaping not only their future, but your own.
Photo credit: Subaru Automotive Division/FHI
It is virtually impossible for you to outwardly reflect today the person you desire to be tomorrow, yet your internal reflection today determines who you will be tomorrow. –mwgrigs
Not many years ago, the ubiquity of small, silicone wristbands and their WWJD mnemonic, encouraged all who read it to contemplate, “What Would Jesus Do?” The premise being to consider your actions in comparison with how he might have acted. Taking nothing away from the Man from Nazareth, sometimes the distance and differences of culture and religion, as well as the pressures of perfection, obscure simpler, more tangible principles. In this case, understanding the power of your choices and actions today for how they influence and shape your life tomorrow.
Do you know who you want to be 5 years from now? How about 10 years? What about 20 years from now? With any hope, everyone reading this post will have envisioned a “better version” of themselves in a future that is, in all reality, just around the corner. My question for you is this: What are you choosing and doing today that will be the raw materials out of which you will fashion that “better version” of yourself? Maybe WWJD is too fanatical. Maybe it’s not the religion you ascribe to. Regardless, ask yourself, “What would my ‘better self’ do in this situation?” Then act at once and be your better self!
We have little difficulty planning ahead for the purchase of a home, charting a vacation, or anticipating the newest iPhone release. However, when it comes to planning our life we grossly underestimate the power of cause and effect and subsequently have to play catch-up, all the while lamenting, “If I had only known.” Our chief error in this line of thinking is that we believe we can cheat time, forgetting that every oak tree is a testament of the acorn “acting like the mighty oak” all of its many, many, many days.
Plan ahead. Begin to think and act today as if you were already your “better self,” and lo, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years from now, you will be that person. If you knew twenty years ago where you’d be today, how different would your decisions have been?
The greatest motivational tool anyone needs is a mirror! Encourage yourself, believe your own dream, and the world will clear the way for you to do what you set out to do! –mwgrigs