31 May Making Memories for Your Kids
By Motivational Keynote Speaker Darryl Davis
I want you to think back to your childhood. If I were to ask you to share with me anything that you remember about growing up, you probably would start to tell me about a moment, an experience. You probably still retain vivid details of some of the most memorable times. We can almost say that our life is just a string of these moments, and that these moments have influenced you so much that they have helped to shape and create the person you are today. By purposely setting out to create memorable moments for your child, you can help shape how your child is going to grow up as an adult. I can think of nothing more important than actively participating in your child’s life, and having special moments that you share (and which your child will remember) is a way to deepen your communication and enhance your bond. To give you a sense of what I’m talking about, let me rattle off just a few of the memorable moments that I created with my son.
When Michael was very young, I took him on a skiing trip with his friends. This was “the boys event,” and we did it for one weekend each winter no matter what. It was during this time that “the boys” would bond and share moments. I would discuss certain life lessons with them, such as planning their time, being responsible for packing their gear, and having fun while respecting others. This was a time that my son and his friends will probably remember into their adulthood. To me, the best place to celebrate the Fourth of July is in Washington, DC. When Michael was young, during our first trip to the capital he got to see the fireworks; go to some of the national historic sites such as Ford’s Theatre, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Library of Congress (where you can actually see a copy of one of my books); and, of course, take a White House tour.
This trip, for me, was about opening his eyes to his heritage as an American, showing him the wonder of what some of the great men before him had accomplished and, hopefully, instilling in him a love of history and the desire to learn more academically. When my son entered high school in the ninth grade, I wanted him to have a vision of what he was working toward. So, I called Notre Dame University and arranged a tour to show my son what college life at a very reputable university would be like. This trip is a perfect example of influencing our children to enable them to see their futures. After that trip, Michael wanted to deck out his bedroom with all Notre Dame paraphernalia. So, during his high school years, he recognizes that the end result is really to get into a good university so that he can get the best education possible. Now, honestly, at the time we took this tour, I wasn’t financially capable of paying the tuition that a university like Notre Dame would require. But I have a firm belief that when you make a commitment, the circumstances will eventually fall in line behind that commitment. Touring Notre Dame was not about my son choosing Notre Dame, it was about him having a vision of what was possible in his future when he completed high school. By the way, every year since he began high school, I’ve taken him to other colleges so that we can continue to envision his future possibilities. You may think that in order to create a memorable moment for your child, you have to spend a lot of money or go on trips or vacations. However, there are many other smaller activities that you can do that will help influence the type of person your child will become as an adult.
Here are just a few examples of those memorable moments that you can make with your child:
- Easter egg hunts
- Singing a song together
- Making dinner together
- Going window shopping during the holidays when the stores first decorate their windows
- Going to the lake
- Playing board games
- Playing video games
- Going on ordinary errands (to the supermarket or gas station), but making it an adventure for your children
Even though these are “minor” actions, as opposed to trips across the country, for example, they each demonstrate a few things. First, and without a doubt, they show our children that we love them and that we want to spend time with them, even when it’s just the day-to-day stuff like making dinner or going shopping. Second, each time we spend these moments with our children, we have an opportunity to communicate. We don’t always have to talk about something profound, but we can certainly ask questions, take an interest in their lives (about what they are learning, who their friends are, where they see themselves in a few years, and so on—with different questions appropriate for different ages, of course). The bottom line is that children need to know that they can count on you no matter what, and they will remember your being there for them, which in turn means that they’ll be more open with you, and as a result, you’ll have more and more opportunities to help shape their lives in a positive direction.
And that, my friends, is worth its weight in gold. Go make some memories. Pay attention to them and encourage them to pay attention to you and be in the present as well. Good luck, happy parenting and keep smiling!