The world is an interesting place. As I sit down to write, there is talk of Nuclear weapons. My 10 year old is asking if we are going to be bombed. Of course, as a parent you want to calm their nerves, say the right thing, and inside you are hoping that what you are telling them will in fact, be the truth. The thing is, we don’t know the future. We don’t know what will happen because I cannot, they cannot, you cannot, control events like that.
So what can we control? We can try and control the way the world sees us, judges us, and interacts with us by teaching our children the importance of the Three R’s: respect, responsibility and reputation. In my opinion, we can consciously choose to help guide them in showing respect to others, taking responsibility for their actions- or being a responsible member of the family and making sure that their actions do not damage their reputation (or ours as their parents) in the process.
As adults, we see, better than our children do, that the road they are on based on the decisions and the actions they are making, may lead them. We can’t, with any certainty, predict what North Korea may or may not do, but we can see, based on what we have observed in and around our own lives, what may happen to our kids.
This is what I usually share with my kids. “Listen, do I know what may or may not happen if you do “this”? Absolutely not. But based on my life so far on the planet, I see that this or this or that may happen. You can continue to do this and you may get away with it. It may not hurt you or anyone else in the future. Or it might. Is that a chance you are willing to take? I am not here to tell you what to do, but I do feel like I need to share with you some of the outcomes as I see them.”
What I do know about (my) teenagers is this: they want as much control over their lives as they can get. They don’t want adults telling them what to do. If I present my insights as opinions and not fact, then they can sift through what I am saying and view it respectfully. I don’t tell them what choice to make; I simply offer outcomes as I see them. My husband and I want our kids to learn and practice the Three R’s. We point out the times when they are not being respectful, when they are given responsibility and how they show they have earned it and when their reputation is on the line. Blair likes to say that when you are responsible with the small things you will be given bigger things to be responsible for. For example, you teach your son about the value of taking care of his bike. You teach him to put it away, to wash it and not leave it in the driveway to get run over by the family car. When the time comes, he will know what it means to take care of a car. If they respect your authority as a parent, your rules and guidelines, they will know what it means to respect a manager or a boss a girlfriend or a husband. They will also recognize when others are disrespecting them (big bonus). If we teach them to make decisions and act according to their values, to protect their personal reputation as they grow up, they will know what it takes to build and protect a professional reputation as well.
If we have any chance is this life, with as much as we can’t control, it will be because our kids learn how to respect others, take responsibility and protect their reputation in the world. In my opinion, The Three R’s are just as important as all the other keys to getting it right. When our kids practice them with consistency, we know we’ve given them a huge gift. We’ve also given their teachers, coaches, and bosses and spouse a gift as well. Don’t you think?
1. Attitude is everything
2. Do the right thing
3. Do more than you are asked
4. Expectations = disappointment
5. Don’t make excuses
6. Everything matters
7. The 3 R’s: respect, responsibility, reputation
8. Have a Spiritual Practice