When our children were younger, because they did very well in school, many people assumed we limited their screen time or what they could watch on television. While we rejected a few shows because they were obnoxious (think Sponge Bob and Caillou), no topic or subject was off limits. We encouraged reading and playing games but set no minimums on reading or maximums on screens. Occasionally, I tried to ‘be a better parent’ by imposing restrictions, but it is not really in my nature to enforce or follow too many rules. [Perhaps this was the fundamental issue of my years in the convent. 😊]
The fact is, television is a constant in our home – to entertain and escape, to inform, to inspire, or as background noise. (Perhaps the “why” is a topic for another blog.)
One weekly show we enjoyed for a few years is “God Friended Me.” Think: “Highway to Heaven” with Michael Landon (1980s) and “Touched by An Angel” with Della Reese (1990s) and “Joan of Arcadia” with Amber Tamblyn (2000s)– but with a modern twist. A young atheist, son of a Christian pastor, is sent friend requests from a social media account called, God. Each episode involves he and his friends helping these strangers who are usually in need of reconciliation and healing.
The ending monologue of one episode had a line: And, if we’re lucky enough we get to see the lessons of our life passed down to those we love most. (God Friended Me, 2018)
Because 99% of our television viewing is watched as a recording so that we don’t need to suffer through commercials (and it saves time), I found myself pausing and rewinding so that I could transcribe what I heard.
“If we’re lucky enough we get to see the lessons of our life passed down to those we love most.”
I often wonder about the life lessons we’ve passed on to our children. We’ve certainly passed on life skills:
Cooking & Baking
- Our daughter – while away at high school – texted that she and some friends would be preparing a Thanksgiving meal before they broke for holiday. Checking in on which cheeses are best for family holiday favorites: mac ’n cheese and scalloped potatoes – from scratch. [Note: Now, in her first college apartment with a friend – focusing on daily cooking of healthful dishes.]
- Our son who often spends Sunday afternoons baking – cookies for a Monopoly gathering at a friends’, French bread – just trying to perfect the process. [Note: He’s turned his attention to meat rubs and finding innovative vegetable dishes.]
- Another son who calls for what to do with too many apples – besides the pie he’s already made. [Note: He’s since perfected a pie crust that is out of this world.]
- My children’s written and oral verbal communications skills astound me. And I’m especially proud when I hear them – often under their breath – correct a public speaker’s grammar.
- While they often procrastinate, they’ve grown into responsible young adults who provide for themselves and manage their lives with integrity and respect.
A Heart to Help Others
- I love that my children will share stories of how they ran late or were running low on money because they used their time, talent, and treasure to help someone in need.
But have I passed along life lessons?
The difference between skills and lessons, for me, is that skills are those things that you pass along as part of teaching your child HOW to survive in this world and lessons are those things that help your child know HOW to BE in this world. Lessons are those things you pass along with the hope that your child will avoid a mistake that would otherwise cause pain to themselves or another.
The life lessons I HOPE I’ve passed along:
You can always make a new decision.
- Very few decisions in life are so rock solid that they can’t be undone. Apart from committing murder, the only one that comes to mind for me is having a child. (Of course, I pray my children would never commit murder.) Once you become a parent, you can never not be a parent. Even if you decide to give a child up for adoption, you’ve still had a child. That doesn’t go away. You can be a parent who does good in the child’s life or who causes pain and sorrow in a child’s life. Still you’re a parent. If you face the unimaginable loss of a child, you’re still a parent. I’m not sure there is any other decision that is so life-altering and undoable. Many choices have consequences and might have a lasting impact. But you can still make a new decision to have a different lasting impact and new consequences. If you get into a relationship that is not healthy, you can get out. If you take a job that you end up not liking, you can quit. Don’t be afraid to admit a mistake and start over.
- You don’t have to endure life; you can make another choice.
Your work is not your life.
- I don’t care if you’ve spent years and money preparing for your work – and you make a phenomenal income – it is not YOU and it is not your life. Especially if you are working for someone else and you’re not your own boss, don’t give up your family, friends, too much time, or integrity for the sake of a job. Life is so much more than your work.
There are lots of ways to do life.
- You don’t have to follow other’s expectations or be like everyone else or live up to anyone else’s expectations. You can establish your own likes and dislikes, your own journey, your own way to exist. You are the owner of your decisions and your destiny – no one else! You never have to be ashamed or embarrassed of who you are or who you love.
What life lessons do you hope to pass on to those you love?