What I’ve learned from my kids
As a parent, I’m responsible for guiding and teaching my kids. But I’ve learned a lot from them. Their innocence and honesty are refreshing. Their fresh perspectives are inspiring. And their energetic spirits challenge me in a very positive way.
The absolute, number-one thing I’ve learned from raising five kids under seven years old is patience. I’ve learned to be understanding of who they are and where they’re coming from. My oldest son, for instance, is only four years old—he’s only been on this earth for four short years—so I have to remember that. Everything is new to him.
When the kids misbehave, I’m responsible for teaching them the difference between right and wrong. They need to learn those important lessons. But I have to do it in a way that keeps in mind their age, their experience, their mindset. I try to look at each situation through their eyes.
As a result, I’ve become more understanding with myself too. If I’m struggling or facing failure, I think about how long I’ve been doing whatever I’m trying to do. For example, I’m learning how to play the guitar. When I get frustrated, I remember I’ve only been playing for a short time. I’m like a child. With that in mind, I give myself some grace, just as I give it to my kids.
Looking at the world through their eyes has also kept me from becoming jaded. As adults, we get busy and move through life so quickly and don’t really see the world around us. We forget to appreciate the small things—or the big things—and get caught up in our emotions. But kids aren’t like that. They notice a glorious sunset and say, Look at that! and get our attention. To them, the world is an amazing place with new, awe-inspiring experiences around every corner.
I’ve learned that kids do listen. They do learn. They’ll repeat back to me different things I’ve said to them. One time, my son overheard me on the phone. I was having a pretty candid conversation—not cursing or anything, but I got a little aggressive—and when I hung up, he said, “Daddy, be nice.” Or I’ll often remind the kids to be careful when they’re being adventurous and possibly moments away from cracking their heads open. And they’ll say it to me—“Daddy, be careful.”
We are examples for our kids. We influence them in the way we live and act. Adrienne says she catches my son watching me and imitating me. I don’t always see it, but that’s an important lesson for me. It’s a reminder to view myself from a child’s perspective and to act accordingly. They’re listening, watching, taking it all in. I need to live up to that responsibility. I need to listen more, watch more, take it all in, just as my kids do.