I’ve read some really great blog posts lately, about life lessons to teach my son or my daughter. I find myself nodding along as I read through these lists of 25, 50, 101 things to teach my children. Such great ideas!
But then, I remember the Rule of Three. What’s the Rule of Three? It’s something I learned early in one of my communications classes – the basic idea is that concepts or ideas presented in threes are inherently more interesting, more enjoyable and – most importantly – more memorable. Thomas Jefferson used it (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, anyone?) Steve Jobs used it, too.
I worry about my children grasping what I’m trying so hard to teach, about those lessons sticking with them after they’re grown and gone. There’s so much they’ll need to figure out on their own; I need to choose carefully the foundation I build for them.
Besides, let’s be honest; I have trouble remembering to change from my slippers into real shoes before I take Nathan to preschool. There’s no way I’ll remember 101 lessons to teach. But three? Three I can do.
1. Be Kind. Be kind to everyone, all the time. Not just the ones who are like you or who are easy to be kind to. Not just when you’re having a good day or at Christmastime. All the time.
Master this, little ones. Let kindness dictate your every thought and motivate your every action. This will be important in every stage of your life, but – if I may make a suggestion – try especially hard in middle school. You see, your dear old mom wasn’t one of the cool kids. By high school, this didn’t matter and I had a great group of fabulous friends. But in middle school, it was hard. I didn’t always have someone to sit with at lunch, and I can remember my mom asking me if I wanted to have a friend over to spend the night, but I was too embarrassed to tell her I didn’t have one to invite. But if you, my dear ones, can spread kindness, that’s one less lonely kid in the lunchroom. When you’re not certain of the next step or what to do, remember – err in the direction of kindness.
2. Always Try Your Best. In school, in sports, at work … But especially in your relationships. Please note that I didn’t say be the best. Failure will find you, as surely as it finds all of us. No one succeeds all the time at everything. But that’s no excuse not to try. Study, practice, prepare. Perseverance builds character.
And never, ever give less than your best to those you love. This is harder than it sounds. It’s easy to give the world our best and those closest to us what’s left, knowing they will forgive us and love us anyway. But your relationships will be deeper, stronger, when you invest your best every day.
3. Know How Much You Are Loved. I have loved you since the moment I knew you existed. And when I first held you in my arms, I knew – I’d do anything for you. My love for you is deep, it’s unwavering. It’s unconditional. There is nothing you could say or do – NOTHING – that could make me stop loving you. When life is hard, when bad things happen, remember this – you are loved. Deeply, completely and unconditionally.
But as much as I love you, know that your Heavenly Father loves you infinitely more. Rest in that love, my children. Wrap it around you like a warm blanket. Let the knowledge that you are fully and irrevocably loved give you the boldness and confidence to become all you were meant to be.
So that’s it; those are my three lessons. Kindness. Perseverance. Love. I will work feverishly and tirelessly to weave these words and promises into their hearts. Then it will be time for them to fly, and for me to rest.
But not yet.