What is the legacy that you wish to leave your children? Is it a good education, a nice home, a good work ethic, a prestigious name, money, or something else? Have you ever thought to consider the legacy you are building for your children? There are many legacies that you can leave, but the most powerful and influential will be the accumulated experiences you share together and memories of how you lived your life. Reflecting on your life and legacy you are building for your children will keep you grounded and is a thought that sometimes scares me. What am I teaching my kids by leaving our home to exercise at 5:00 a.m. and not returning from work until 6:30 – 7:00 p.m.? What does that teach them about what is most important to me? Our kids watch everything we do and in many cases will model or pick up our habits both good and bad. How many have justified their dedicated pursuit of career success saying that they wanted to provide good things to their families. How many dads work all week and feel they need to be rewarded by playing golf on Saturday or Sunday leaving the family to their own activities. Our careers, our debts, our homes, our hobbies, our service activities, and our selfish desires all compete with our family for our attention and affection. God has given us a very brief period in time to raise our children. What we do with our time will absolutely set the course for their lives and communicate what is of highest importance to us.
What do you want to your kids to think of when they remember you? Think about where you spend your time and where you spend your money. As the leaders of our family where we invest our time and money is the foundation of the legacy that we are leaving our children. For me the most valuable treasures that I can leave our children is lasting family memories. Memories that are created through daily interaction, focused time, or family vacations. When my kids were in the 3 to 7 year range Thursday night was “dad night”. I would do simple activities that lasted 30 minutes to an hour with each of our three children and rotated each week. We went out for frozen yogurt, a bike ride, roller skating, or Funny Face Pancakes at the I-Hop. It didn’t really matter what we did, but it was one on one time that each kid got with dad. We lived in our home for 15 years and still had a plastic slide in our dining room. Each year we made decisions as to where we were going to spend our money. Dining room furniture…or…family trip to Disney? Dining room furniture…or…teach our kids to snow ski in Colorado? In my book Good to Great Families I ask the reader to list all the adventures, major milestones to celebrate, and memories to create with their family. Then create a list of years that your kids are in your home and begin to fill in the schedule. It’s amazing how quickly you fill up the time when planning with a limited budget and limited time. This simple exercise can help guide your plans to create a legacy of memories and experiences and reveal how short the time we have.
So, what is the legacy you are leaving with your children? Don’t put it off and wait until tomorrow to begin creating your legacy. Make your time reflect the priorities that are truly important to you. Spend your money on the things that reflect the priorities of your heart. In the end your family, friends, co-workers and employees will recognize and respect your choices and commitment to the things you hold dear. There is nothing wrong with working hard and pursuing the rewards that you can share with your family, but remember what they value most is time with you. Take a moment and think about the legacy you are building. Make a list of things you want to be remembered for, the adventures you want to share and memories to create, go and create your legacy!
p.s. I would love to hear from you regarding this or any other post.