Simplesteps is centered on building and keeping friendships and influencing people around you for good. This particular post has been sitting in queue for some time but a timely comment from a friend of mine brought it to my attention this morning:
simple step #5 – Tell them of their good deeds
If a person has ever made a positive impact on you in some way, no matter how small, always make sure to let them know how you were affected by their influence in your life. It’s even ok to let some time lapse before you tell them… it’s meaningful that you carry the memory. Again, it’s a simple step, but the residual is immeasurable. Pulling someone aside to let them know that they’ve helped you will instantly establish a thread of connection that will always be there. Even the grumpiest of souls love to hear that they’ve helped others, especially when it was inadvertent! This simple step inspires others to be even more helpful and has the power to unlock strengths that may have otherwise remained dormant.
TL;DR – Let people know when they’ve helped you specifically… it encourages them to be helpers in general.
Things got real the other night during an outing with a few of my guy friends. It started off casually enough but before the evening was over we were sitting around a table sharing heartfelt stories and life-lessons. I’ll admit, it was probably my own estrogen level that tipped the scale. While most of the fellas there would chalk it up to cigar smoke and dusty vents, I’m sure I saw a few eyes glazed over as thoughts were shared. All kidding aside, I was recalling the memory of my father who passed away on September 1st of 2010. In all the years that I’d known him, he must have told me that he loved me thousands of times. That was comforting enough while he was still with me, but on this side of events, what I wouldn’t give to have heard him say at the end, “Son, I know you love me too…”
It wasn’t until after saying goodbye to him for the last time that saying, “I love you” wasn’t enough for me. I needed to know that he believed it! To be sure, I was absolutely obnoxious growing up. I’m quite positive that I gave my father every gray hair he ever had. I wasn’t prepared to think that somewhere along the way my affection might not have been clearly communicated. Being caught off-guard and a little surprised by this emotion, I now choose to make it a point to tell my children from time to time, “No matter what happens, always know that I know you love me.” I let them know how much it encourages me to know they care for me. They need to know their love for others is effectual and appreciated.
TL;DR – It strengthens others when they know their love is received.
To avoid the risk of being pretentious, I’ve categorized this as a confession rather than advice. Along the lines of my first confession, I’ve always taught my children to understand and value ownership. I never demand that they share their things with others, even their cute, younger, innocent siblings. My 2-year-old has his own shelf on the bookcase for his collectibles along with his brother and sister. He knows exactly which ones are his and which ones aren’t. It’s wonderful watching him look longingly at his brother’s new Captain America figure while resisting the urge to touch or demand it. He certainly has the right to ask to play with it but his brother has the right to say no.
One would think that this has caused each child to hoard and lord over their things but the byproduct of this practice has shown quite the opposite for our family. The children aren’t inclined to be selfish but free in their sharing. After being on the receiving end of someone else’s graciousness, they’ve learned the benefit of sharing so that it comes willingly. I often urge my children to be generous, but I don’t demand or require it. Sharing is definitely a virtue and I’ve found success in allowing them to find joy in it so that it becomes an act of kindness and not compulsory.
For those in relationships, however, these practices don’t work. Just roll with it.
TL;DR – My children have learned to share even though they have permission not to.
When consoling someone who is grieving, refrain from immediately sharing your silver-lining perspective. A wounded person rarely needs to hear that their loss makes sense to you.
TL;DR – Grieve with those who grieve
If you’re going to have a strong opinion on something, make sure it’s one worth fighting for. You may never know the quality of friends you’re passing over in order to remain right.
These belong to my 2-year-old son. Why? Because he loves Disney’s Frozen with reckless abandon. As soon as I get home from work: “Can watch Leddy Go, Dad?” I’m sure Disney backmasks subliminal messages into the main song. There’s no other explanation. Yes, my boy loves Elsa and Anna and I support him in his obnoxious obsession.
He plays with girl toys?! Some dads fear this would cause their boys to grow up effeminate. Some refuse to let their sons join ballet or sing in choir because these activities aren’t manly enough… meanwhile the mother, who has an absolute passion for the arts, is robbed of the opportunity of seeing her sons exercising their inherited talents. The rationale varies, but the most common objection I hear is, “I don’t want my son growing up to be a sissy.”
Please realize that it’s not your child’s interests that measure the man, it’s your child’s heart. Does my oldest son have an inherent desire to play with Barbies? Nope. Would he play with them for his sisters sake? Yep. Would he “man-up” and deny that it ever happened? Absolutely not. He’s altogether confident in who he is. This boldness is what wins the respect of his peers! He’s a defender who stands up for others and doesn’t distinguish between the outcast and the popular. He’s learned to appreciate the interests of others and I couldn’t be prouder as a parent.
You can force your sons to play with G.I. Joes, but inwardly they’re pelting the world with frozen snowballs. Give your kids the freedom to be honest about their interests… otherwise, they become the living embodiment of Conceal – Don’t Feel. In my estimation, there’s no greater definition of weakness.
TL;DR – Prohibitions that are more about saving face than protecting innocence will inevitably lead to true frailty.
There’s a reason why this image absolutely crushes me. It’s a short exchange between my daughter’s iPod and my iPhone. The twist? I wasn’t a part of this conversation. She texted me and when I didn’t respond in a timely manner she found my phone and responded to herself.
Anyone who knows me realizes that there are no deficits of “I love you’s” between me and my children, but there are moments when they need to hear it at precisely the right time. I went and whispered this in her ear while she was sleeping but what I wouldn’t give to have sent this at 8:01 PM. This was her way of saying that she wanted to hear from ME and I intend to let her know that I’ve heard her loud and clear.
All that being said, If my son ever catches wind of this he’ll start texting himself from my phone with things like, “Hey, more video games!” I’ll need to play this carefully.
TL;DR – Pay attention to the ones you love. Gauge their love tank and make sure to fill it regularly with things that are meaningful to them.