Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too Much Energy on Things that Don't Matter

My daughter has been investing so much energy in school stuff this week that I would be very pleased if the school stuff wasn't what outfit she was wearing the next day for Homecoming Spirit week. Last night she recruited Ricardo, our family artist, to help her design a t-shirt and they were up until after midnight. Meanwhile, she has only two grades that don't fall below a C.

I said this to her today, "It's amazing how much energy you spend on things that don't ultimately matter, and so little energy on the things that do."

But that sentence kept coming back to haunt me as I recognize that in myself, especially as a parent. I focus so much energy on the little things -- things that in 10 years won't matter at all.... like bedtimes, and chores, and haircuts and baggy pants, and even, to some extent homework. The things that really matter, my relationship with my kids, the fact that they are kind and generous and compassionate, often get ignored in the midst of my need to prepare them for their futures by teaching them life skills.

I have often said over the years, "I don't care what people think" A wise man once told me, "It doesn't matter what people think, but it does matter how you make them feel." And I am challenged with my kids that I need to work harder on making them feel good about themselves.

Another wise man, C.S. Lewis, said,
Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you already have it.
He talks about how if you don't feel loving towards someone, do loving things. Kind of a fake it until you make it approach.

But there is a trick in this. It's not just faking it -- it's being genuine and finding good things and suddenly the good feelings follow. If I do something loving for someone, I love them more. It's weird but true.

I'm not sure who needed to read this today -- but I'm convinced that all of us as parents could use a look at the things that we are focusing on and possibly, in a metaphorical sense, put away the t-shirt markers and pick up a text book.... asking ourselves what will matter most ten years from now...

(and I realized that I'm just not posting enough pictures, so here is one of Isaac yesterday, preparing to be a chef like his grandpa ;-)

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