Everyone loves a good list on the interwebs these days, don’t they?
Particularly when it comes to parenting.
Which is probably why some research about the life lessons we teach our kids was pretty much all over the place today. Chessington World of Adventures resort in the UK asked 2,000 people what every parent should teach their child, and they came up with some curious results.
The top 10 looked like this:
- Teaching them to say please and thank you (80%)
- Respecting your elders (75%)
- Having good table manners (73%)
- Telling the truth (72%)
- Not talking to strangers (69%)
- Brushing teeth properly twice a day
- Treat others with kindness
- Be confident
- Be helpful
- Admit that you’re wrong
The Daily Express gives you the full list of 59 if you’d like to have a further look.
Question for you, though. Is your biggest parenting goal in life to ensure that, after living a long and rich life, your child’s epitaph reads:
He always said please and thank you. Such a polite boy. And he always had a napkin on his lap, used his cutlery from outside in, and gently skimmed his soup away from himself with the correct spoon.
Now that I’m looking at it, the top four are pretty self-serving, aren’t they? The person most likely to immediately benefit from these particular life skills are the parents of said children. Because to be honest, always telling the truth is less of a life skill and more of a hiding to nowhere.
Particularly if you’re an adult.
In an interview situation.
Or in the middle of a break up conversation.
Or answering questions like “does my bum look big in this?” or “is this your vehicle, madam?”
I’d go as far as to say that “always tell the truth” would be in my “do not do” list.
I’d change it instead to “take a pragmatic approach, weigh up the consequences, and choose the option that will cause the least harm.”
I think that’s definitely a better life lesson.
Sure now that you’ve twisted my rubber arm, I think this is what my top 10 might look like:
- Treat others with loving kindness, even when it’s the last thing you want to do
- Be true to yourself and respect yourself, always
- Find out how to make yourself happy and keeping doing it. Remind yourself what those things were when the world is getting on top of you and find them again.
- Learn to listen
- Be able to cook
- Understand that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
- Learn to aim high and how to be resilient when you miss
- Be trustworthy and honourable
- Learn how to speak up for yourself and be confident to speak your mind.
- Be kind to your body and your mind. You only have one of each.
- Be aware of the privilege you were born into, the advantages you have above others and be grateful every day for what you have that others do not.
Okay, that’s 11. We’ll say technically 12 when you throw in the truth telling one I mentioned earlier. I could probably keep going until 59 if you let me off, because there’s so many lessons I’ve learned myself that I’d love to pass on to my kids. Although, as we all know so well, an awful lot of them are the kind of thing that you have to learn yourself through experience. I’ll also admit that while I’d like to say that I put all of that list into practice myself, I know I don’t but I aspire to it. I suppose that definitely makes them life-long lessons so.
I’d also like to add a life motto to the mix, while we’re being all contemplative. My favourite is:
The harder you work, the luckier you get
And I also like:
Do your best because then you can look back and know you did everything you could, and anything outside of that is beyond your control.
Sure we could be here all day with the wisdom!
What life lessons would be on your list?