How often do parents say something to the effect of, "I want my kids to have a better life than I did"? It is probably a fair assumption that it happens on a regular basis. This type of question demonstrates the love that parents have for their children. However, more often than not, after asking that question, nothing changes. Parents continue to do the same things they have been doing.
In order for parents to really help their children have a better life than they have had, they must ensure they develop habits that will support that desire.
The ability to clearly communicate will make a difference in every aspect of one's life. Parents must be the model of what it means to clearly communicate to ensure their children make it a habit in their lives. When one can articulate well what they want and need, there is a much better chance at success.
Love to learn
Being a lifelong learner is a habit that will pay great dividends for both the parent and child. As children see their mom and dad proactively looking for ways to learn new things, and then applying what they have learned, they will desire to develop this habit as well. Loving to learn is not something that comes easy to many, but the habit can be developed. For example, when you find something you love, strive to learn more about it. As you do this, you will be teaching as well.
Service above self
There is something very empowering and rewarding about serving others. As parents develop the habit of finding ways to serve others, they will teach their children what it means to be a selfless person — something our world needs more of. This concept can often help during times of personal trial or struggle. The ability to help others despite a time of personal difficulty can provide a more selfless, caring attitude and allow for a renewed sense of focus.
Childhood obesity is a problem that continues to grow, and the main reason for this is that parents are not developing a habit of healthy eating themselves. Telling children to eat healthy while parents are not doing so themselves will not have the desired effect. Eating healthy is a habit that must be developed through making a conscious choice to do so. It can be as easy as starting to eat more fruits and vegetables each day. Find ways to incorporate them into meals and teach your children the importance of eating healthy.
If getting out of bed each morning is what one considers physical activity, there is a need to develop a habit of daily physical improvement. Unfortunately, many parents imagine physical activity as a gym filled with intimidating fitness enthusiasts. This becomes discouraging, so the motivation to start never happens. Developing a habit of daily physical activity can be one of the most important ways to ensure your children have a healthy life. Start by taking a 20-minute walk each morning or evening. Set the goal and then make it happen.
Live your values
Values are what define a person. They are those beliefs that drive our decisions for the better. Having a strong set of values provides clarity and priorities in our goals. As children watch how their parents develop and live their values, they will often incorporate similar ones into their own lives. As parents live their values, there is a great opportunity to discuss these with their children. These discussions are valuable in teaching why establishing and living values is so important.
Finances have been shown to be one of the main reasons to negatively impact relationships within a marriage. The inability to manage money can lead to heartache, stress and a breakdown in communication, none of which will actually help children have a better life. Teach children to live by a budget and why it is important. Explain the importance of saying no to wants to ensure needs are met.
Parents that show support and unconditional love to their children have developed a priceless habit. Our children will do things that cause emotional pain and sadness; but as parents show love and support to their children, they will keep the door open to helping them. The goal is not to have that door slammed shut. Showing support does not mean parents will agree with what the child is doing, but rather will demonste the importance of being there when children need it most.
When parents learn to do hard things, their children will have a positive example of how to better handle trials. There is much truth in the fact that nothing can get stronger without some type of opposition. Thus, as parents tackle a challenge or strive to make it through a trial with a desire to learn from that experience, they will have taught their children the blessings that come from doing hard things.
Habit is defined as an "acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary." As you develop the above nine habits, you will be creating the real opportunity to ensure a better life for your children.
Seth Saunders is an executive business consultant and leadership coach. Seth has been married 20 years to his amazing wife, Amber, and is the proud father of three wonderful sons. He is passionate about helping others succeed.