There comes a point in every parent’s life when it hits you that you aren’t just raising babies, but you have created a person. For me, I think it was when my oldest son received the Conductor (student) of the Year Award at school. Of course, having him recognized by a panel of teachers as being bright, responsible and courteous was one of the proudest moments his dad and I have had. But what is as important about him winning is what he did before he won.
I had been called out of town for a family emergency, and he and his brother were with a family friend. The day before the ceremony, without anyone telling him and no inkling of how it would turn out, he picked out his best pair of pants, his nicest shirt, dress shoes and a clip-on tie. He looked like a winner before he’d won. And when they called his name, he was prepared.
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If he’d learned this lesson from me without me realizing I taught him, what other unknown examples have I set, good or bad?
It got me thinking about my own childhood, the lessons I learned from my dad and how they ultimately shaped me into the woman that I have become. I still tease him today about an unflattering comment he made about me years ago that he, of course, intended as a compliment. But the fact that I still remember it is a reminder to me as a parent that words and actions, no matter how major or minor, can have a lasting impact.
My parents weren’t perfect, and neither are we. In the end, all we can do is to try and make certain that we do more good than bad. If that happens, even when we’re not around, out chilren will be much more likely to draw a positive word of encouragement from their memory bank than something hurtful that will tear them down.
My father is not an overly emotional guy and often doesn’t have many words. But I realize now that most of what I learned from him was less about what he said and more about watching how he lived his life.
Thanks, Daddy, for more good lessons than bad.
Here are his top 10:
10. Your work ethic and character will set you apart from the crowd.
9. Admire people who are not only good at what they do, but who love doing it.
8. Respect your roots.
7. Never waste anything.
6. Anticipate what could go wrong – something always goes wrong – and try to prevent it from happening. If it happens anyway, learn from it.
5. There’s only one way to do things: The right way.
4. Listen to people. Listen to their stories. Listen deeply. That’s how you learn things.
3. Showing love and concern is more important than talking about it.
2. Many people deserve second chances, even if you have to give them a second chance more than once.
1. You are beautiful and loved.
Nikki Woods is senior producer of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” The author of “Easier Said Than Done,” the Dallas-based Woods is currently working on her second and third novels. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @nikkiwoods.