When it comes to my daughter, I couldn’t be more proud. She’s kind, smart, and so mature. Watching her grow has been a privilege, and witnessing her personality develop continues to amaze me with her kindness and consideration. Oddly enough, it’s been through her example that I’ve finally learned why the following lessons are so incredibly important…
1. Everyone deserves love.
People are people, no matter what. No one understands this better than my daughter, who believes with her entire heart that everyone is deserving of love and understanding. Through her, I’ve realized that sometimes we just make mistakes but there’s much more to each person than just the mistakes they’ve made.
2. Be committed to your friendships.
I’ve realized as I’ve had random conversations with my daughter that it’s important to be kind to our friends. How did I not learn this sooner? I was always thinking about myself. Now as I see my daughter play with her friends, I realize that their quarrels are solved when they forgive and show love. Now, I teach her to be the kind of friend she wishes to have, and I follow suite in my own relationships.
3. Be helpful, even when you don’t feel like it.
Marriage and fatherhood have gone along way to teach me this life rule. Though it may seem an irritant at first, no good deed ever goes unreturned in our home. It may take someone reluctantly taking the first step to lend an extra hand, but the help and kindness goes noticed and later – returned. If anyone is working around the house, it’s a guarantee my daughter will appear at some point and ask if she can help and I believe that’s because she’s seen the same behavior between myself and my wife.
4. Nothing is more important than family.
My daughter’s favorite activity to suggest is that the whole family watches a movie together – and snuggles. This girl loves us and I pay special attention to that trait of hers. We cultivate it by looking for opportunities to have quality time together and though sometimes we have to deal with tantrums and public meltdowns, I never regret our bond and the work it takes to build it.
5. Appreciate what you have.
I’ll admit it, as an adult with bills, responsibility, and never enough sleep, I fantasize about life with more money, time, and a slimmer waist line. But then I look at my daughter who just wants to snuggle, blow bubbles, and play at the park and I realize we’ve got all we need in our lives to be happy – each other. The rest is extra, and we’re grateful for it. But it doesn’t determine our joy.
6. Life is better when you enjoy the people you spend it with.
My daughter’s lack of interest in things is largely because of her enjoyment of people. Rather than focusing on getting the next thing she hopes will make her happy, she looks forward to playing and interact with others. So often I can push her aside, tell her to go play with her things, so I can mow the lawn or watch a show. She cries when I send her to play in her room and with the amount of toys she has, it used to baffle me. Now I realize we avoid crying fits when I let her hang around and help me. She just loves to spend time with me, and I’ve grown to love spending time with her.
7. Be sincere when you apologize.
Our daughter pops out an apology anytime she gets in trouble. It took me a few weeks to realize she was trying to avoid a timeout. As I’ve explained to her the purpose of saying “I’m sorry”, I’ve seen the importance in these words more as I’ve had to say them to others.
8. Apologize freely, even when you think you’re right.
Life is hard, and often our families get blamed for it. As I’ve looked for ways to minimize fighting and contention in our home, I’ve learned the easiest way to rid our house of angry feelings is to apologize freely. If you feel you’ve done no wrong, search for a reason to apologize. These words will tear down walls and restore trust, as long as you use them correctly.
9. Life is all ups and downs.
Nothing is good all the time, but nothing is always bad either. My daughter goes with the flow like I’ve never seen, and watching her is a great guide for how to be loose with the ebb and flow of life.
10. Come what may, everything will be fine.
Nothing lasts forever. Except, maybe, for my daughter’s optimism. No matter how hard things get, she’s always finding the silver lining. It’s one of her best qualities, and one that I try most to emulate.