Pass on Values, Not Experiences
By Rachel Schmoyer
When I was pregnant with my first child, I dreamed of giving my children the same positive experiences I had growing up including playing sports.
I loved playing sports growing up. I was no superstar, but playing soccer, basketball, softball, and gymnastics taught me the merits of practice, how to work with others on a team, and how to follow the coach’s instructions even when I wished I was playing a different position. I learned that bad players on the team drag the team down, but they are still part of the team and you have to learn to work with them. There was so much character building that happens on the sports field. I didn’t want my kids to miss out on these important life lessons.
What I didn’t bargain for was my husband’s complete lack of interest in sports and the resulting lack of interest in sports from my children. After a few seasons of t-ball it was clear that my son was happiest on the bench so he had more time to draw in his notebook. One of my daughters insisted on wearing a frilly skirt as part of her uniform for every single game. I was disappointed and frustrated. I felt like I had failed at passing along my values to the next generation.
This past week I was sitting in the audience at the elementary school band concert in which two of my children were playing percussion. Neither my husband or I had been in band in elementary school. This was new territory for us. We watched as they worked hard in the weeks leading up to the concert to learn the notes. They went to school an hour early twice a week to practice with the rest of the kids in the band. They learned to follow the rhythm of the conductor. They voiced their frustration about the kids in the band who didn’t work as hard as they did and brought the whole band down.
In the midst of the squeaks and squeals of the instruments which combined to make a simple song that was over almost as soon as it began, I reflected on the experience my kids have had in the band and likened it to my own experience playing sports. I smiled when I realized that although they were holding mallets instead of a baseball bat and watching a conductor instead of a coach, they were gaining the same values from the band that I had gained from the sports teams.
It is not possible to replicate every positive experience from one generation to the next. There can be a sadness, almost a grieving, when this is realized, but all is not lost.
If you cannot pass on your experiences to the next generation, you can still pass on your values. What did you treasure about your childhood experiences? What other experiences can pass on those same priorities or values?
Here are some suggestions or ideas:
You have good memories playing board games with your kids, but your grandkids are always busy on their phone or their tablet. How can you communicate the importance of time spent together playing games? Ask your grandkids to show you what game they are playing on their device. Let them teach you how to play. Your grandkid will be excited that they get to be the expert and you will make a memory playing a game together.
You went to Disney World as a kid, but there is no way that you can afford to give an expensive trip like that to your kids. What did you value about the trip? Was it taking a break from regular life and experiencing something new together as a family? There are cheaper options close by that would be new to your family that cost less money. Maybe you valued the way Disney World stimulated your imagination. National Parks, zoos, and historical sites can also spark the imagination. If you liked Disney for the theme park aspect, try a theme park that is closer to your home and do a day trip instead.
You loved camping with your family when you were growing up, but your wife’s idea of roughing it is a motel instead of a hotel. What could you do instead to instill a love for the outdoors in your kids? You could hike together and end with smores in your backyard fire pit. You could plan a backyard garden together.
What values did you gain from your childhood experiences that you are passing on to the next generation? Comment below!
About the Author
Rachel Schmoyer is a pastor’s wife and mom of four. She blogs about finding simple truths in complex passages of Scripture at Read the Hard Parts. She also writes about parenting and other adventures at Rachel Schmoyer Writes. If she is not writing, she is probably reading, most likely a biography of one of the First Ladies of the United States.
You can connect with Rachel online on Twitter.
You can read Rachel's "Family Life" column the 4th Monday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.