How to Give Your Child A Priceless Legacy
By Dad David
In todayís world of microwave speed, channel surfing and drive-through everythingís (including weddings), words like ďtraditionsĒ, ďfamily rootsĒ, and ďlegacyĒ seem to fit more comfortably in a discussion of times gone by.
ďA hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I droveÖBut the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.Ē
I wanted to impact my young sonís life in a positive way. I wanted to give him a legacy to know the great worth of his own roots as a person, to understand his own value and beginnings. The problem was, I wasnít sure how to do that.
Then one day, my wife Mary was talking to her best friend, Bobbie. Bobbie told her of a unique thing she was doing for her two young children, Mamie and Carl. She had been keeping a journal about their young lives, recording the various things they did as they were growing and experiencing life. She said it was something she thoroughly enjoyed.
One of the things she said was fun to do was to take out a journal and read some of the past entries to her family. Everyone liked remembering the experiences of the childrenís earlier youth, many of which occasions were long forgotten. Her youngest, Carl, especially loved hearing stories about his adventures when he was quite young, what he used to say and how he would do things. She said he would also excitedly ask at the end of the story, ďDid I really do that, mom? Really?Ē She also said he would laugh and enjoyed hearing of his youthful accomplishments.
Mary and I discussed the idea of having a journal for Adam, and we both agreed it would be a great thing to do. We decided that I would be the one to keep it, so that week I went out and purchased a journal for him.
Right from the start, I found writing in his journal to be a great experience in some unexpected ways. I decided to keep my entries simple. I wrote them like I was writing a brief letter or note to Adam, one he would read years from now. And since I never seem to have enough time, I only wrote in this journal for 10-minutes once a week.
Youíll also see in the following entry one of my favorite things to write about is Adamís little victories in his young life. When you look closely at the little victories today, you get a glimpse at the exciting potential that awaits your childís future.
Dear Adam, November 1 (4yrs old)
In Mondayís swim class, your swim teacher said halfway through the class, ďLetís leave the childrenís pool and go to the big pool, now.Ē The class is made up of 3, 4 and 5 year olds, and suddenly, several of the children started to whimper. You came up to me and did the same. Soon almost all of the class was crying because they were afraid of the deep big pool.
Well, you all made it to the big pool, and within two minutes, you were all laughing and splashing and having a great time. You got brave and started jumping off the side of the pool, and others started to follow your example. You swam with and without your floaty. You did a great job and gained a lot more confidence.
By the end of the class, you were all complaining that you didnít want to get out of the big pool. What a change!
Rarely do people get a close up look at their early roots of their developing successes. This is a precious part of a personís heritage that is usually lost forever.
Family traditions are a wonderful part of a familyís roots or heritage. Traditions your family enjoys, or rituals, donít have to be reserved just for major holidays. Anything you do repeatedly that is planned and has positive emotional significance is a tradition or ritual. It doesnít matter how young your child is. It can also be something very simple.
The following is one of the first rituals or routines Adam and I experienced together.
Dear Adam, June 10 (1yr old)
For a while, we were having a challenging time when we put you to bed at night. Many times after we put you in your crib, you would cry and cry. It seemed like even though you were tired, you just didnít want to leave us. But then, your mother came up with a great solution. She suggested that since I was gone all day at work, that I spend some time with you one on one before you went to bed. So, what Iíve been doing is taking you up to your room when itís time for bed and talking to you. We talk about all the fun things youíre going to do tomorrow. Actually, I do all the talking and you put your head on my shoulder as I hold you. I also usually tell you a short story. Then I tell you how much mommy and daddy love you and about all the people that love you. And before I put you down in your crib, I sing you a song or two. Now, mommy can sing much, much better than daddy, but you donít seem to mind my singing. And after all that, when I put you down, you seem content and peaceful and usually go right to sleep.
Thatís an entry that brings me back to a very special time in my life with my son as a new father. It was the beginning of a father-son bond that I treasure greatly. And Iím so grateful that because of the 10-minute journal, my son will get a glimpse of that special time we shared together.
Then there are the legacies others leave behind by the examples of their lives. This can impact the next generation more profoundly than any riches left to them in a will. The example of Adamís grandmotherís life in this next entry demonstrates what I mean.
Dear Adam, April 13 (9yrs old)
Itís almost been five months since your grandma Forson passed away peacefully in her sleep. You were very close to your grandma.
As I reflect on grandmaís influence in my life, she gave me three gifts I will always treasure. They are her love, her beauty and her spirit.
Her love was unselfish, something she gave generously to others. If you got sick, she didnít just say take care of yourself. She called you back long distance with a list of vitamins she researched you need to take with the types of food you need to eat. She did that because she really cared. She was the type of person that would put the needs of others above her own.
Her beauty was her second gift. Because of her great beauty she could appreciate true beauty. She loved the beauty God created all around her. Sometimes she would get up early and go to the ocean to have a front row seat to admire the sunrise. On her last trip to Arizona, she marveled at the beautiful rock formations in Sedona and expressed her gratitude for being in the presence of such a beautiful sight.
As an accomplished artist grandma was also a creator of great beauty. But of all the beauty she created, her greatest work was the beauty and love she created in her family.
The third gift of grandmaís I will treasure is her spirit. Your grandma was a true optimist. It was difficult to be down or sad around grandma. To her life was wonderful, life was beautiful, and thankfully, her love for life was contagious.
It gives me great comfort to know that because of the influence of grandmaís love, beauty and spirit, you, mom and I will always enjoy a precious part of her in our hearts.
Iím grateful to have an entry in Adamís journal of how his grandmaís influence touched the lives of the many family and friends that knew her. Adamís grandma was a very special person to him, and fortunately thanks to this journal, I was able to capture over the years the kind of memories that cannot be found in a photo album.
Still pictures and videos are great and we enjoy them, but with a journal entry you get the kind of pictures cameras canít see. Iíve heard it said, ďIf a picture is worth a thousand words, then a mind picture is worth ten thousand pictures.Ē Typically a picture from a camera captures a posed moment when you had the camera available. With a journal you can reflect back over the entire week and capture the meaningful aspects of a memorable experience. You can create wonderful mind pictures giving the rich details that are invisible to the photographic lens.
This journal uncovers a unique type of biography, a history of your child that is rare and priceless in many ways. Biographies are typically reserved for the elite of society. They are for the powerful, the famous, the rich, and the superstars. With this journal, your child and his descendants will have a treasure even the highest ranks of society can only dream about. Itís a record for the future of how your childís life unfolded as it was happening.
Hodding Carter tells us: ďThere are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children: One of these is roots, the other is wings.Ē I believe through your childís greater understanding of their own roots, both their roots and wings become strengthened. By
understanding their own success roots, their bonding roots with a parent, and the character roots of a family member who has passed on, your child can enjoy the priceless treasures only this unique type of journal can bring.
Author: Dad David
Mail to: David@SmartKidsPlay.com