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What do your children think you value?

I heard about a study awhile back that crosses my mind on almost a daily basis. Maybe it’s just my lifestyle, but I really do think about it quite a bit.

This study involved two groups of moms. Group one never opened a book all day long. They just went about their motherly business while their kids were at home. Group two at a minimum had a book open on their laps whenever possible. If they weren’t actually reading, they at least gave the pretense of it. The study found that the kids whose moms were in group two were significantly more likely to become readers than the kids who grew up in the homes of group one.

To tell you the truth I can’t find that study anywhere to provide you with the link. Don’t remember where I heard it, or whether I heard it or read it. Maybe I dreamed the whole thing, I don’t know (if so, props to me for dreaming about scientific studies!). But I guess that’s also not really the point for me.

The findings are not shocking by any means, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that our kids watch us. Our actions speak far louder than our words. They do what we do. They learn to value what we value.

After reading (or dreaming) about the study, I started to mentally mull over my day. I imagined what it was that I was showing my kids about what I valued. Exercise? Computer? Work? Outdoors? Phone? Service? Them? Cooking? Health? Art? TV? Reading? Funny how what you think you value isn’t always reflected in how you choose to spend your time every day. I also thought a lot about what I wanted my kids to know that I value, and subsequently what I want them to value.

I made a few changes in my weekly routine.

I started doing more of the outdoor sports that I love in my ‘free time’. I started planning more outdoor picnics, hikes, and bike rides. I stopped ‘reading’ stuff on my smart phone in front of them. I started listening more, working harder, and making more things with my hands. I’ve started opening my computer less, if at all, during the day.

I can’t say it’s made for a whole lot of blog entries. You can rarely get ahold of me the first time you call/text me and I email about as fast as I snail mail. But It’s been really great for my kids. I’m showing them what I value… and reminding myself in the process.

Is it working?  Are my kids learning to value what I think is important?  Its hard to tell at this age.  Values may develop after hand-eye coordination and potty-training are out of the way.  But I look for the little things, and hope it leads to something bigger.

They devour stories and beg to be read to every evening; they even want books on tape in the car on long trips.  They’re happy as frogs in mud to play in the sunshine in the backyard. They think the science museum is a perfectly normal afternoon activity. They’re fascinated by living creatures, happy to watch birds on the lake, insects in the grass, and any lizard that will hold still long enough. Movie night with Dad (while mom goes for a hike) is like a national holiday, and the ‘tv’ is not yesterday’s news for them.

Ari values knowing the right answer, and prides himself on figuring things out and then telling the whole world about his ‘eureka’ moment.  We rented a ‘fancy’ van for a road trip a month ago.  Ari wasn’t satisfied until he had figured out what every single button did (it had automatic doors, etc.)  I think he gets that from watching his dad.  My little scientist.

Last week Isaac took it upon himself to clean up some muddy prints the dog left on the floor, using an entire box of baby wipes to make sure it was spotless.  He was clearly proud of his hard work.

Then again, if my kids are a reflection of my values, it appears I don’t value sharing with my siblings, sleeping, eating dinner, or hiking all day long.  Baby steps, I tell myself… baby steps.

And if you want more to mull over, this article really caused me to make some life changes as well: How to Miss a Childhood from Hands Free Mamma. I think every smart phone owning parent should be required to read it. I for one read it often.

17 Comments so far

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  1. Claudia

    Love it, Linds. Brian and I talk about this all the time, but I still fail on a daily basis. Guess I should keep trying anyway. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Claudia – Ya, we all fail quite often I’d imagine, but I do believe the key is as you said to “keep trying” :)

  2. Man, this is a crazy good post. I read “How to miss a childhood” an now totally”get” what you’re talking about. Thanks for the inspiration. Time to turn off the computer before my kids wake up!

    • Jessica – Thanks, isn’t that “how to miss a childhood article” awesome! I really do read it often for a reminder. Glad you liked the post.

  3. Skylar Topham

    Lindsey, that was the best content I’ve read in years. I can’t believe your my sister! It’s something I really needed to hear, and a topic that’s been in the back of my mind for months. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    • Skylar – Hahaa, thanks. Seems like your talking about this stuff all the time! It’s probably where I heard it in the first place. If not, I call this chapter in your book!

  4. Jessica

    Loved that post, loved the link to that amazing article. I don’t have a smart phone. I’m not on face book. But I am still just as distracted and addicted as the rest of them. Thanks you so much for sharing your thoughts on this and that link. It’s time to make a change.

    • Jessica – Thanks for the comment. I hear ya, that article is amazing, and I think there are other things in our lives, even if it’s not technology that can take over our loves. It’s important to keep ALL those in check, technology or not :)

  5. Amber

    I love this. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day nuts and bolts of being a parent that i lose sight of the things I value the most. Thanks for he reminder to take some time to re-prioritize.

  6. Amber

    By the way, I agree that this is one of your most thoughtful, well written posts yet. You’re amazing

  7. Jacqueline

    Great post, it really makes me think… I will be giving thought to what I’m demonstrating to my kids that I value. Thanks!

  8. Susan

    Love this post – thank you. And thanks for the link to Hands Free Momma – terrific article, very important too. :)

    • Susan – Thanks for the comment, you are very welcome! Ya, that article on Hands Free Momma is one of the best things I’ve read on the web in years!

  9. After spending nine days on a road trip with my family, I’m feeling almost exactly the same as you. When you’re alone with the people who matter the most, you suddenly realize that all those outside distractions just aren’t worth your energy. Now for figuring out how to translate this knowledge into our everyday lives …

    • Debi – Thanks for the comment! The thing that finally caused me to make an actual change was the birth of Viv (4 months ago). I found myself me so much less time I had to sit down and evaluate how I was spending that time. I had to think about what was most important :). I can see how a long family trip would do something similar. Really causes you to look at what you value… It’s wonderful!

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    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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