A hero doesn’t have to wear a cape or a uniform, though nowadays in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic many of our heroes are wearing uniforms. Doctors, nurses, and all front line healthcare workers.
Whether your hero uniform is a suit and tie, police officer, firefighter, postal worker, armed forces, factory worker, or other professions, the most important hero you can be is a hero to your children.
Children look up to role models in life. Their role models are often sports figures, musicians, YouTube stars, Instagram influencers, or other people they deem important. Half the time the role models my children have are names I haven’t even heard of which is a constant reminder I am old and often times much like my father was.
A role model and a hero are two different things in my book but some disagree. A role model is an individual that you look up to or inspire you to be like. A hero is usually defined as someone who is admired for courage, achievements, or good noble qualities. Both a role model and hero can inspire you to be better but a hero is someone who goes out of their way to help others.
Now the two can be intertwined as some role models might be a hero but oftentimes they aren’t. Take for example NBA rookie Zion Williamson who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. Some admire his work on the court but arena workers think of him as a hero as he decided to pay their salaries out of his own pocket at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How as parents can we be a hero for our children?
Provide support and build their confidence
Children should always be pushed to try new things but the problem is trying new things can often lead to failure. Children need to know failure is a part of growing and that it’s ok. To build their confidence you need to let your children know that you are in this together with them. Acknowledge when they get good grades or score the winning basket or hit the game-winning home run.
Show your children support, compassion, sympathy, and forgiveness at all times.
Children need to feel safe at all times. Security can mean standing up for them when they need you, having their back at all times, but it can also be financial security. Many parents are working 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet as best they can. Most children growing up don’t realize the sacrifice that many of us make so that our kids will always have what they need.
Listen to them
Children are under extreme pressure today from things like social media, friends, and school. All this pressure can be overwhelming at times. When you’re home and around your children give them your full attention. Talk to them, ask questions, learn about their day. Listen to your children and don’t be so quick to interject, hear them out fully first. You should be happy when your child wants to share something with you. This means they trust you and value your opinion enough to open up to you.
Show your spouse/significant other love
Children learn how to treat a spouse or significant other from you. They will repeat what they see at home in their own relationships later in life, so teach them how to love by showing love. Treat the person you love with respect and don’t talk badly behind their back. I hear parents all the time complaining about their significant other behind their backs. “He’s so lazy, he just sits on the couch all day”. “It would be nice if she cleaned every once in a while”.
Don’t be afraid to let your children hear you say I love you. Children raised in a loving marriage will grow up to be loving adults.
One of your main focuses as a parent is to teach your children many of life’s essential lessons. How to talk to people, kindness, manners, being inquisitive, and how to ask questions and listen. I suggest you learn alongside your children. Ask them if they’d like to help you when you’re working on a project around the house.
I’m surprised how much I learned from my father doing just this. I watched how we used to do things around the house and I still follow many of his rules today. I still wrap all my Christmas Light connections in electrical tape to keep the rain out, because I saw him do it every year.
Teach your children how to find the answers they are looking for. I am often shocked at how adept my children are on the internet but when it comes to finding an answer, they struggle. At their fingertips at any given time is either Alexa, Siri, or Google yet they still struggle. Teach them to work through problems and how to research answers. A technique like this will help them tremendously later in life.
Spend time with them
Children want to spend time with their parents (at least until they become teenagers). Take advantage of this time you have with your children when they’re young before things get too chaotic. Read to them, play games with them, talk with them, watch their favorite movie or TV show with them, exercise, take a walk, build something and so much more.
My father was my little league coach so we often had that built-in time together on the field but I was always helping him around the house. I am certain this is why I like to complete projects around the house now. Hard work was programmed into me at an early age.
Consistently make memories
You’d be surprised what children remember about their childhood. Children remember times you spent with them even it was something as simple as a day at the amusement park or the time they caught their first fish. We were just talking at the dinner table the other day about some of the school trips and vacations we went on when they were younger. These memories don’t always have to be expensive vacations. There is plenty to do to make memories on a budget
Don’t break your child’s heart. If you say you’re going to show up to their game then show up. It can be devastating to your child to look up in the stands and you’re not there. Be their biggest supporter and keep your word. Walk the walk and talk the talk!
If your children can’t trust you to do something as simple as show up when you should, you can’t expect them to trust you enough to talk to you about their emotions and feelings
Give them love and affection
How easy is this to do? Just tell your children you love them and say it often. Every day, many times a day if possible. If you’re traveling for work take time to call them or at least text them to let them know. Give them hugs and let them know how much you love them.
When you have children you need to realize that there is a shift in life. It’s no longer just about you. You need to make sacrifices in order to be there for your children. You might not be able to watch every NFL game because your child has a soccer game on Sundays. Sacrifices will have to be made.
That’s not to say you can no longer have a life as it is important to take time out for yourself but try at all times to put your children first.
The easiest thing to do is simply love your children and be the hero they need. Children will remember the important things you have done for them throughout life.
Who was your hero growing up? Comment below and share your thoughts.