Friday nights, 10 p.m., I am glued to my television to watch the latest episode of Blue Bloods. As much as I watch for Jamie & Eddie (you know you do, too!), I also watch it for the family dinners. The Irish-Catholic dinners remind me of my own (extended) family's Italian-Catholic dinners.
I binge-watched seasons 4-8 so I couldn't tell you when this quote was uttered, but at one point in a recent episode Danny reveals a family pact the adults all made the days their children were born:
We made the choice to bring you into the world. You didn't make the choice, we did. So a bargain was struck that day that you owe us nothing and we owe you everything.
He's right. We owe our children everything.
We owe them our eyes, ears, and hearts.
Looking into a child's eyes when they tell you a story that is nonsensical to our ears but is everything in that moment to that child will go miles and miles in developing a healthy kid.
We owe them structure and boundaries.
A 'yes' that's 'yes' and a 'no' that's 'no' builds one block of trust at a time. Over the months and years, those building blocks will turn into the kind of parent-child relationships we all dream of.
We owe them grace.
When they're tired and can't make it through dinner without a meltdown, they deserve our understanding and our grace, and then we get to show them how to problem solve through the big and hard emotions (like tired and cranky).
We owe them a chance to grow their character into something strong and sturdy.
When we can show integrity, hard work, kindness, selflessness, confidence, and courage, we must. And we must speak these things into our children's lives whenever we get a chance. They climb a rock wall or a ladder at the park? You are full of courage! They want to share a cracker with you? Thank you for being so kind and thoughtful.
We owe them an instilled appreciation for a good education.
Your education is one of the few things you have in life that absolutely nobody can take away from you. We owe our kids a chance at learning the basics of reading, math, science, history, and language arts...and then so, so much more. Help them appreciate why reading in the second grade makes the higher grades and the rest of their life so much better.
We owe them a lesson in gratitude.
Our children need to hear us say PLEASE and THANK YOU--to them and to one another. They need to know why using polite manners goes as far as it does. Sure the world can be cruel and won't always recognize their good manners, but they're little--let's lay the foundation and teach them more later.
We owe them laughter, hearts full of love, peaceful goodnights and happy good mornings. And if we're lucky, in 20 years or so, those little things with the sticky hands and dirty feet turn in to friends we are honored to call ours.