Hi there, it's Finley 👋🏼 and Happy Friday.
Today's story takes 3 minutes to read.
Look Back: How to become "that house" for teenagers one day.
The 5 Mistakes
When your kids are younger, parents tend to focus a lot on the present and sometimes the future... but usually its on the immediate intense present.
Though my kids haven't moved out yet, I have a little more margin now to consider the past.
As I've been writing lately, I've wondered if it sounds too much like the Robinsons got it all right. I hope you're intuitive enough to know that couldn't be further from the truth.
We lost it, blew it, forgot it, fumbled it, and messed it up weekly.
Right now with upper-age teenagers, it is less about our micro-decisions as parents. Now it's more about the choices our kids are making daily.
In your season though, you can often feel like you aren't doing much right.
That's why you get the normal parent platitudes of hang in there and you'll wish you could go back someday from other parents.
But as I reflected, I have identified several things that have had lingering negative outcomes. Nothing is catastrophic but things I would do different if given the chance.
Being a parent is tough. The lagging indicators within kids come years later. Maybe these will offer a clear heading for you and your family.
Mistake #1: Not getting into nature enough as a family.
We didn't neglect it altogether, but we should have taken more day trips to green places.
You think I don't have time or I have too many projects today to get outside. Yes, chores and repairs are on your list. We made the mistake of choosing home-base too often.
You don't have to do much for it to "count."
The age of wonder in a child's mind is a short one.
Hike. Bike. Camp. Fish. Explore. Romp. Trek. Discover.
We are a big sports family and so we spent a lot of weekends at ball fields, which was great. A few more in nature would have been preferred though.
Mistake #2: Being too loose with their school work & study habits.
Both of my grandmothers were teachers. I was a firstborn child who liked to achieve and was good in school. My parents made school a priority and I obliged.
My wife's family of origin was the opposite (as those tend to attract in marriage). So we met in the middle with our family school expectations.
The goal isn't the grades, but the lifelong habits and personal growth from learning, reading, and deadlines.
Not a massive mistake on our part, but I wish we were 25% more buttoned up.
Mistake #3: Not having a clear strategy for family chores.
I've always admired the chore chart families. I tried to become one, but it takes full family buy in and we never got there.
I'm super proud of the work ethic in our kids. We've had them get jobs once they could drive.
There are numerous strategies to try. All-time dish duty. Weekly rotations. Daily assignments. Set day of the week.
We made the mistake of owning all the chore responsibilities and then dishing them out in moments of need.
Mistake #4: Allowing comparison of families to develop and multiply.
This one is impossible to avoid, but I still hate that it happens. Comparison is a product of our culture but it can quickly sink your family and values.
A ski boat is naturally going to take on water as people pile in and out of the lake. Add to it the big wave potential to take on lots of water, and boats have a built-in bilge system to pump water out.
Taking on a little water happens, as long as it's dealt with and removed.
I wish we had talked about the dangers of entitlement and comparison more when kids were in their single digits. Instead it became an urgent need in their middle school years.
Pump the comparison out of your life and your kids early and often.
Mistake #5: Waiting till they were teenagers to go to counseling with my wife.
In the last 5-10 years in our culture, marriage counseling has made fantastic headway. It is now viewed and valued as more maintenance and preventative than a last resort.
When I saw that our conflict cycles were showing up and being repeated with our teenagers, I knew we were passing on pain and we didn't want to.
We should have gone at year 3, 7 or 10 and not waited till year 15.
Well, that's it for this Friday! Hope you'll share with a friend.
You won't get it all right, but stick to your core values. Maintain your family heading and reset when you need to.
The Family Virtue of Contentment
Steve Graves book 41 Deposits
"Contentment is learning to say enough is enough and learning to really believe and practice it.
It is an elusive quality, because we often want the things we don't have and ignore or minimize the things we do have.
Of all the qualities you can learn in life, finding contentment regardless of your circumstances is one of the most stabilizing foundations you will ever construct.
The Apostle Paul shared in Philippians 4 that he had 'learned the secret of being content - whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.'
I don't know of another virtue that grounds us better in today's unsatisfied society. Without it, your heart swirls between voices in your head, marketing messages by the millions, the never-ending appeal to 'treat yourself,' and the self-driven desire to live for only today, not for eternity."