What will you leave behind?

Apologies for my absence…but life has been in the way and a half hour lunch to eat and write. Eek!

What will you leave behind is a take on my church’s sermon from yesterday. Their question was “What is your legacy?”

I think we all know the “monkey see, monkey do” education our children receive as they age. I think it’s safe to say they see everything. They want to mimic our behaviors and sometimes when they do, we cringe.

I know I do.

I sort of growl when frustrated. I say “Shit!” or “Damn it” when I drop something or stumble. Since having kids I try to be better about it…but it is hard. It’s a bad habit.

My kids do these things. How do I know? Because their teachers have told me. When Elijah was three years old he dropped a toy at daycare and I received a note home. Oops!

It’s not just our language skills we pass on, it’s our stability or instability. It’s a love of Foo Fighters and The Black Keys. It’s alcoholism and drug abuse. It’s emotional imbalance and accepting other people’s hardships as our own, or not accepting our own problems. For some children it is watching someone else always fix the parents problems so never seeing the parent fixing their own problems.

The pastor began with an example from the movie “The Godfather” (happens to be one of my favorites). He explained how Don Corleone was only ever able to pass on his life of crime and violence to his children. Despite what he desired for them that was all any of them ever received. If you have seen the movie you know the seen when he comes home from the hospital to find out that Michael is the one who sought revenge and went into hiding. Don Corleone was heartbroken and they played that into the movie. His legacy was also his heartbreak.

I think…no…I know that this is one reason for my separation and divorce. I see the generational hardship of alcoholism and drug abuse in my husband and his family. He learned it from his parents, who learned it from theirs, and so on and so forth. I remember this story from him about his first trip to his fathers alone when he was fifteen. His dad handed him pot and told him to have fun but not too much. His stepfather drank daily and would supply it to the teenagers in the neighborhood and said as long as they’re doing it at home.

Hmm…I always thought an adolescence like that would have been awesome. I can do whatever I want as long as I am at home.

Now as an adult I think that defined rules of behavior and consequences to our actions is so much better. At least it gives you a base line of behavior that is acceptable to most in the world. You can be part of civilized society for the most part. It’s much harder to learn after your 20’s. Heck my ex husband is going to be 47 this year and he is still learning to correct the behaviors learned in childhood.

I guess this is what I am saying.

Look at your life. Look at your relationships. Look at how you treat everyone from your partner in life to your children to your parents to the homeless man begging for change on the corner. How you treat each of these people is how your children will treat these people. Your work ethic will become your children’s work ethic. My son watched my husband skate by for so long that even at 6 years old I am having a hard time reeducating him that he needs to clean up his own messes.

BUT IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THIS STUFF!

Your kids will learn how to play. How to have fun! How to appreciate a raindrop and smile through a storm. They will gain your sense of adventure or your nervous nature. If you are a stress max person so will they.

Think about yourself. Think of the person you want to be and make yourself into the person you want them to become…it’s all up to you.

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5 thoughts on “What will you leave behind?

    • Megan D. says:

      I think there is something to that, but even then you see behaviors that need improving and change them. Danny loves everything about himself, but is that something he wants to pass down to the boys? Nope. This isn’t about how you feel about yourself it’s how your children define themselves and pick up our habits.

  1. justaddtea says:

    I think I agree with most of this. I’m still processing some of it. The part about the work ethic, though, I don’t know if I agree with that. One of the reasons I’m terrified to get a job at either of the schools my parents work at is because I know my work ethic isn’t as intense as theirs and I’m terrified it will be a black mark against them. Or that I’ll be expected to do as much as they do! And my youngest brother does nothing, while my mom is working two jobs.

    • Megan D. says:

      That’s true about the work ethic…I will have to think about that one. Maybe that is not so much a monkey see, monkey do as it is the result of parental expectations as we age. What do you think?

      • justaddtea says:

        That’s possible. I know Munchkin (as I still call my little brother) definitely isn’t expected to do anything, while I’m expected to do tons! I’ve always fought it, though. I never thought it was fair that I was expected to do everything while the boys weren’t really expected to do much. As a result, I tend to find the quickest way to get things done…even if it means I sometimes slack.

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