The word Legacy appears legal enough for many people to mistake it for a will.
However, a will is only a legal document which talks about the financial division of assets and wealth you have left behind. There are in fact many other ‘things’ you can leave behind for which a dollar value cannot be ascertained. The things that are truly lasting and worthwhile.
So what should dads leave behind as an enduring legacy?
A Lifetime of Learning
Leaving behind a legacy in education is not about having our sons and daughters attain degrees and doctorates. Quite the opposite really.
It is about how we as fathers make time to help, even if it is just being available when our kids turn to us for advice. Dads should never think that it is their wife’s duty to look after the children’s education needs. We should get used to the idea of dads as educators in the family.
The temptation is strong for us to simply put our legs up and switch on the TV to release our work stress at the end of each work day. Don’t.
A few minutes spent with our children, chatting with them as they do their homework, instilling and encouraging the discipline of hard work builds the foundation for a life of continuous learning. Sure, you may not see the effects and rewards now, but it will surely come.
The best thing from an education point of view is to help out kids to learn how to learn. A college degree is not the ultimate goal.
Having the skills to learn and adapt to me is what the next generation needs.
There are some things that schools do not teach and I think teachers are not well equipped to teach.
I am referring to Financial Literacy and Financial Intelligence.
When our kids grow up, they are going to grapple with taxes, interest rates, mortgages, debt, income, inflation, stock market crashes, etc. How are you as a dad equipping your children with the skills to manage their money?
Look around you.
We live in a generation where young and old alike are addicted to debt as if there were no tomorrow. If you are like me, I know and have heard of individuals who have maxed out their credit cards and their financial situation spiraling out of control.
“It is my personal belief that dads have the main responsibility of instilling the right values of money. I do not want my children to think that money is evil. In fact, I want them to have the right perspective to money. Financial Intelligence, Literacy and Discipline from childhood is so important that I sometimes wonder why it takes such a back-seat in modern parenthood!”
It starts with you, dads. Your kids watch how you manage your money.
Leaving them a fortune at the end of your life is useless if they do not have the skills to manage money.
Do you spend beyond your means? What is the likelihood that your child would follow in your footsteps sub-consciously?Do you make it a habit to save and invest and put compound interest to good use? You will do well to heed Albert Einstein’s advice
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
Take the job of teaching your kids about money seriously.
You don’t need countless pages of research studies to conclude that the children of a father who has been a moral support to them through-out their lives always have a stronger backbone and a more receptive heart than children from broken families or where the dad was alcoholic or abusive.
Dads who are constantly away and busy with work and moms who are always on the net or on the phone or in the kitchen are as likely to destroying the bonding experience our children deserve.
The old adage “A family which eats or prays together, stays together” still holds true. We need to build relationships within the family that last a life-time and can endure the storms of life.
Just putting in time for a family holiday each year (while helpful and good) is just not good enough. Bonds are built in the common activities of each day. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you just need to spend Quality time without Quantity time.
Racial & Cultural Tolerance
This is a sensitive issue, but the fact that the world is gradually becoming a global village where anyone from a race or culture of the world interacts with someone from a different race or culture means this is one valuable behavioral trait which we should make our children aware of.
It is always easy to reach out to people who have the same characteristics as us because of skin-color, religion, language, life-style or culture and keep away from people who don’t have these characteristics.
The comments we make as we observe people are always picked up by our children, even at the ripe young age of 2 yrs.
What do you think the child will be contemplating when he hears terms like “Oh , those curry eaters” or “Oh , those guys from the Middle East” or “The chinks with the slanting eyes” going through his ears in his formative mind?
Even if you are not the ones who uttered those words, you should quietly put things in perspective to your child once the person who mouthed this moves on.
Like it or not, we live in an individualistic society. But life is not just about me.
I read an blog article recently by Jane Meredith Adams writing for parenting magazine and something she said struck me.
As it turns out, children have an inborn capacity for compassion.
Small in stature themselves, they naturally identify with stuffed animals, other kids, pets, and underdogs. The tricky part is that their empathy must compete with other developmental forces, including limited impulse control — which makes them pull the cat’s tail — and their belief that their needs absolutely must come first — which makes it hard for them to let their cousin push the cool fire truck.
And I agree.
It is not easy to overstep the line in the name of love and breed a generation of spoilt brats.
I absolutely do not believe that parenting without enforcing rules, allowing bad-behavior to go unpunished and not instilling a spirit of helpfulness should have any place in our families.
The Final Legacy
No one can predict when they will leave this world, but it is a certainty that we all have to leave one day.
The day you became a dad, you have already opted in for this task. So why not spend some time and think about what you would like to leave behind.