I love giving gifts to my kids, and have to hold myself back at times from going overboard. I love to see the smile, the joy on their faces, even as adults when they open something that I know they want, or something that totally surprises them. I’ve got a couple of surprises up my sleeve for each of them this Christmas and I can’t wait to watch each one open them.
The best gifts, however, are the ones that are not necessarily under the tree. They cannot be wrapped in a box with fancy paper and ribbons. In fact, there is not really a dollar value you can place on them.
Those are the gifts that your children will never ever outgrow. The ones that they may not know to ask for and the ones that are harder to give because you can’t just go buy them on Amazon, have them wrapped and stick them under the tree.
The kind of gifts that your kids will never outgrow are the ones that you cannot hand to them, they are gifts that must be LIVED.
This holiday season, don’t forget to dole out these timeless gifts:
The gift of your time and undivided attention.
Don’t let busy-ness be your excuse. Don’t let work keep you from being the dad or mom that your child needs. Don’t let your kids’ activities suck all the family time right out of your home.
Be intentional about giving your children the gift of your time and undivided attention. They need that; in fact, they are starving for it, even if they don’t know they are.
Don’t wait for them to ask for it; schedule it on your calendar daily, weekly, monthly and let them know that you are making that time with them a priority.
Mom and Dad, this matters more than I can stress. This kind of focus will give your children the sense of security that will allow them to go out into the world and make it on their own without you.
Sometimes I watch with wonder as one of my three grown kids steps out and does something incredibly brave or daring or achieves something that they were striving for. Because they grew up in a home that gave them plenty of focused and undivided attention, they were secure enough to take the risks and accept the challenges.
The gift of your listening ear.
Parents like to talk a lot. They find it very easy to lecture, nag, and vent frustrations with their kids TO their kids. Much of the time, they are so busy talking that they don’t take the time to listen to their kids.
It’s amazing what you can learn when you stop and listen. Really listen. Bite your tongue when you feel the need to immediately critique, correct or judge. Why do we as parents always feel the need to talk, talk, talk? Our abundance of words does not usually fix the situation.
How much better to listen first, maybe ask a couple of questions, then listen some more–BEFORE we share our thoughts or opinions!
This gift of a non-judgemental listening ear is something your kids will always need, no matter how old they are. My kids are 27, 30 and 33, and I’m still practicing the habit of listening without judgement.
The more you seek to listen to your kids without jumping in to correct and judge, the more you seek to understand the why behind their what, and the more you let listening outweigh talking, the more your kids will WANT you to talk and share your thoughts.
The gift of values.
This is one gift that your kids may never ask for, but it is a gift they will thank you for someday. Giving your child the gift of core values will be the foundation to who they are and what they become.
If your family has never established core values, here’s a quick how-to:
- As a couple or as a family, make a list of 5 core value words–things that are important to your family. For instance, our family’s core value words are family, faith, honesty, communication and compassion.
- Next, write out a sentence for each of those core value words. For example, ours for family is: We will seek opportunities to strengthen our extended and immediate family bonds. Do that for each of the five words.
- Have a family meeting to share these core values. Post them somewhere in your home where everyone can see them. Refer to them often in conversations with your kids. Make them a part of your family culture.
Believe me, if you do not give your child core values to live by, they will find something else to fill that vacuum. Don’t take that gamble.
This Christmas, commit to all three of these gifts.
As you commit to giving your children undivided attention, a listening ear, and core values to guide them, you will have days when it doesn’t seem to be doing one bit of good. Your kids still drive you crazy, still act disrespectful, and still seem like they are ignoring you, but don’t give up.
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