I may be a time management consultant, but I’m a father first. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the title of “Dad” for 10 years now. So today I’d like to step away from my usual focus of time management and talk about the seven things every parent should teach their children. You may not be able to teach your kids all of the things on this list, but for those things you can’t do, I’m sure you can find them a teacher. I’m no expert on parenting by any means, but I think the results speak from themselves and just how much my son has accomplished already.
Swimming – This is something I strongly believe in mainly because I’ve almost drowned three times. Ironically, I’m actually a decent swimmer. Sheer luck saved me twice, but once it was my swimming ability that kept me alive. Parents can only be around so much. As kids grow up, we need to give them space to make mistakes. When it comes to the water, a minute is all it can take. Being able to swim could be the difference of life and death.
Martial Arts – Swimming protects from nature. Martial arts protect us from people. Hopefully we’ll never need either but having them in our tool-belt should the need arise is helpful. Martial arts don’t just teach us techniques to fight or protect ourselves, but also discipline, respect and possibly most importantly, self-esteem. The best thing about martial arts is anyone can learn them. Your ability determines how fast. If you’re wondering how long? Four years for adults and six for kids will give almost anyone who attends class once a week the chance to earn a black belt (except for BJJ). Want to speed up the process? Attend class twice a week. And once you have a black belt you have it for life.
Basic Math – It’s amazing just how much math we use – from paying bills to investing to keeping your son’s swim times. Architects, doctors, teachers, CEOs, housewives, pretty much any profession in any field needs math to a certain extent. The best thing is we don’t need complicated math. Fractions and some basic geometry are about all we need. I am a big believer that parents should teach their kids one year ahead of what is taught in school. First, it’s honestly not that hard to teach and second because then school math won’t be too intimidating.
Languages – Kids have an amazing ability to learn, especially when it comes to languages. As their minds are still developing, they are more able to accept different ways of thinking. Adults struggle to wrap their mind around new ways of thinking which is why kids often refer to their parents as “dinosaurs.” Kids are not yet set in their ways. They are malleable and more able to accept a change in their environment.
Food – I’m not the best cook. Far from it actually. Like really far. My wife, on the other hand, is amazing. Most people love their mom’s cooking, for me she’s number three. Thankfully, my wife has taught me how to prepare a few simple dishes. I wish I’d learned how to cook when I was young as it would have saved me money as well as kept me from getting sick in my twenties. I used to get colds regularly and I’m sure it had to do with all the junk food and soda I was putting in my body. There’s nothing wrong with a few snacks, just don’t overdo it.
Respect – One of the things that saddens me today is just how disrespectful some kids are. It was the one thing my parents impressed upon me from a young age and it stuck with me. Only later on in life did I realize its power. As a senior, I ran into a professor whose class I had taken in my sophomore year and she asked me how I was doing. I told her my grades were ok, but not great. She seemed rather surprised. She said, “I always thought you were one of the best students.” I laughed because I had averaged a B in her class. People forget many things – grades, scores, arguments – but they won’t forget your character and showing people respect goes a long way to leaving people with a good impression of yourself.
Promise – If there’s one lesson I want my son to remember is that our words have power. One of the most things we can say to anyone is “I will” which is pretty much the same as saying, “I promise.” At least it should. Sadly, many people throw such expressions without giving them much thought. In this day and age, it’s gotten hard to know just who you can trust. Being someone that follows through is powerful whether you’re dealing with clients, bosses, friends or family members. You’ll be known as someone “who keeps their word.” Not a bad reputation to have. It will serve you well.