As a parent, one of the many questions we have in life regarding parenting stems from a desire to care for our kids from a far. If that means while we are out of town, if we are dropping them off at camp or college, if we have a life-threatening illness that could cause death before we would wish, or simply when we take them to a friends house to play. Although these are a wide variety of circumstances... the same thing applies: we will inevitably be apart from our kids at many point in our lives, some temporary & some permanent.
Ever since I started attending Legacy Retreats with Inheritance of Hope I have been intrigued by the encouragement for families to create a living legacy for their families in various ways. On the retreat itself, parents have the option of recording a legacy video for their children. This brings up many mixed emotions for us all when we consider what this means. By making a legacy video a parent is surrendering to the possibility that one day their child will watch this video in memory of their parent, unless for some reason the child dies prematurely before the parent. Some view this as "giving up" & consider making a video to be a hopeless defeat, but many come to terms with the fact that even if you've been given a week to live, months, or no timeline at all, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I do not have a terminal illness, I serve as a counselor on retreats. However, I have gained a new perspective that I am not guaranteed tomorrow, none of us are. So what does that mean for me on a daily basis? It means I want to create a legacy for my kids on a moment to moment basis. One day when I die, I want my legacy to live on. I want my kids to remember things about me & how much I loved them. This makes me want to create many legacy "clips" throughout my lifetime for my kids with my life (& even an actual video as well). Realistically, any of us could hop in our car today & have an accident within a mile of our home.
So do we live in fear? Do we wonder & obsess when our time will come to part from those we love on this earth? We could. Or we could enjoy each moment we are given & consider how we can create legacies that live on. For me, practically this means savoring moments with my family. Prioritizing what really matters in life. Doing things together that we love & enjoy together. Creatively thinking of ways to get outside, away from distractions such as tv, video games, computers, etc. and doing something active & adventurous that not only promotes physical & emotional health, but also models discipline & healthy lifestyle habits that will continue in my kids lives beyond my instruction. Considering the types of communication we have in our family is another way I hope to create a legacy with my children. I want to lay the groundwork for my kids to have open, honest conversations in their relationships with their spouse, each other, friends, & strangers. I want them to be able to love others well when I am not around telling them how to do so. I want my kids to know me & my spouse well. I want them to know how we met, what we love about each other, what has been hard in our life, what ways we have learned to find hope & joy that is lasting. I'm finding with my toddler that I can intentionally seize moments with him daily to teach him these big ideas in his language. It simply requires me setting aside me own agenda at times to get down on his level, look him in the eye, & train him up in love. For little ones, reading together & coloring & cuddling is a way of creating a legacy that will stick with them in the years to come. Memories formed at a young age truly shape who we are when we become adults & get married & become parents eventually.
How are you training up your kids & creating a legacy that will live on in your absence? None of us are able to parent perfectly, we are broken people in a broken world, but we do have the support of each other to encourage each other along the way. It truly takes a village to create legacies that live on. This blog is another element of how to stay connected & get help in this area. Always feel free to contact me in the comment section below.
Take Aways of Legacies that Live On:
-create a video (on a retreat) or at home
-write letters to your kids & buy gifts for milestones you may miss (stealing this idea from co-founder of IOH Kristen Milligan)
-take time daily to connect with your kids on their age level
-get outside & turn off distractions
-talk about life together
-create memories & shared experience that will not be forgotten
-model character & truths you value in your family on a regular basis
-model forgiveness & apologize to offer closure
-simply BE together