Yes, parents play a huge role in teaching their children. But I've found that if you listen closely, you can also learn a lot from your kids. Here's a few recent lessons from the girls:
1) Focus on the positive. I know, it's easy for a five year-old to be positive, right? But if I gave Jessica a nickel every time she answered "great" to a question (in a Tony the Tigerish way), she'd be halfway to paying for her college education by now. She has so much enthusiasm when she says it that it makes me feel, ummm...great as well. Here's a sample of the questions I've asked her in the last couple days that have elicited the "great!" response:
"How did you sleep?"
"How was school?"
"How was lunch?"
"How were the Lucky Charms?"
"How was your playdate?"
"How is the bruise on your knee?"
She loves life, and always finds something to love about it.
2) Help others. I generally carry three dollars or less in my wallet. I actually bought a $2 soup at a deli the other day with my Amex card because I had 70 cents on me. So whenever I ask my wife if she has any money on her if I'm running out somewhere, Steffi will be the first to reach into her money jar (actually a can) and offer to lend me whatever I need. She genuinely wants to share what she has. Recently we were out shopping and she offered to buy me a pair of shoes. When I was her age I'm pretty sure I was more interested in buying the latest KISS album or baseball cards than asking my dad if he needed some extra cash. But the larger point isn't about money, it's about offering help to others, even if they don't take you up on it.
3. Don't take things for granted. Yesterday Steffi's class had a mock Presidential election, and she was so excited to cast her vote. Jessica says she can't wait until she's 18 so she can vote (I told her she'd be 18 soon enough). Many countries envy the freedom we often take for granted. One of the greatest manifestations of this freedom is voting for the candidate of your choice. Don't take it for granted.
The Young Girl and the Sea
4 months ago