Mothers are on our minds this week as Mother's Day approaches. My mother is often in my thoughts too, as I remember her gentle ways, warm laughter, and soft hugs. She was, probably like your mother, special in my life. The gifts she gave weren't usually the material kind because money was not something she had to give. Hers were gifts of love and caring.
That made me think about the kinds of gifts parents can give to their children, the kind that are kept forever and appreciated most. As I look back to my sons and their childhood, I realize that they probably have very few material gifts from me because, like my mother, money wasn't abundant in our household. I tried instead to give them what I thought might be valuable to them later, things they could carry with them wherever they went, and could pass down to their own children.
Here is my list of gifts that can last for a lifetime:
1. Unswerving faith in their abilities to do whatever they set themselves to do.
2. Freedom to make choices and decisions, even if we do not agree with them.
3. Responsibility for their choices and decisions.
4. Confidence in their abilities.
5. Support in bad times, applause and shared joy in the good.
6. Advice only when asked.
7. Understanding that the advice is a suggestion and may not be taken.
8. Memories of the family's past.
9. The ability to laugh, especially at themselves.
10. Compassion and empathy for others.
11. Acceptance of differences in philosophy, politics, religious beliefs, and lifestyle. We raise them to be independent, right?
12. Unquestioning love in abundance for our children, and for their spouses and children.
There are probably many more things that could be added to this list. What do you consider the most valuable gifts you have given to your children, as either father or mother?