I read a post on Dear Friends about the lessons we give our children. I say “give” because our children are always learning, even when we aren’t teaching. And it’s important that what they learn by watching us is what we actually want them to learn.
The first time I looked into the face of my first-born child I recall so very vividly, and with panic, wondering how I would ever be able to instill in her the values and principles that would act as her personal weathervane and guide. The most important of these were honesty and respect. I felt that with these two guideposts she wouldn’t stray very far.
Demonstrating our values along the way is what is important. Faced with a real ethical crunch, I would venture to say that most people would come through on the side of right. But if we aren’t consistent in the application of our values, if we let the little issues slide, then just how valuable to us are our principles?
I was at the checkout of our grocery store—three children now in tow. On receiving my change from the clerk I realized she had given me too much—not much too much, just a few coins … but that’s not the point, is it? I looked down at my three impressionable daughters, and I saw my newborn’s face again, and I turned back to the clerk and said, “You’ve given me too much change.”
My newborn was now about 15. She saved up some babysitting money and bought herself a new bike. We kept it chained at the back of the townhouse, but one morning the chain was cut and the bike was gone. She was greatly disappointed and I was outraged, but there was nothing to be done. The lady she babysat for was going away and lent Alyson her bike, which was a very nice gesture. We kept it chained at the back of the townhouse, but one morning it too was gone. Besides outrage, I felt very sorry and sad for Alyson. And very proud of her when she worked to buy another new bike, and gave it to Lori.
The younger of my daughters are now 31 and 32. One is now working for a Women’s Shelter, and the other works at the Men’s Mission in the city core. Their choice of careers demonstrates to me an empathy and respect for others in a way that is beyond anything I could have undertaken. I see my newborn’s face yet again, and I think … three for three. My job is done.