The Three Best Things You Can Do For Your Children

Some time ago I was having dinner with my daughter, son-in-law and their friend, Kristen. I’m not sure how we got on the subject of children. Kristen is not a mom and this was well before Annie and Jerry found out they were having a baby. Perhaps we were talking about my son and daughter-in-law and what amazing parents they are to the now two-year old twins.

The very wise Kristen said, “I think the three most important things you can do for your children is to read to them, travel with them and love them.”

Those words have really stuck with me.

Read, travel, love

Having had such excellent role models in our own parents., I think (and hope) that Peter and I did a pretty good job following this with our kids.

We read to them.

Books have always been a big part of our family’s life. We made frequent trips to the local library, bought stacks of books at the annual book fair and were always the first to return our Scholastic Books order form.

Recently my son, responding to a Facebook meme listing his favorite books of all time, noted his love for the Encyclopedia Brown series. He said he was quite certain that there was a worn spot on the rug in the children’s section of our library where he remembers sitting for hours reading about the boy sleuth’s adventures. As his parent, I must say that warmed my heart.

At Annie’s baby showers, guests were asked to include a book with their gift instead of a card. This idea has been around for a while and I think it is brilliant. What a remarkable way to start a family’s library of children’s books!

Of course reading goes beyond books. We read newspapers, magazines, road signs – pretty much anything with printed words.

We regularly watched Wheel of Fortune as a family. Don’t laugh. Pat and Vanna provide a great tool for kids to learn to spell. And teach kids the difference between consonants and vowels.

Encouraging both reading and writing shows our kids the importance of words and language in our everyday lives.

We traveled with them.

Ok, so lots of our trips were to Disney World but still.

There is so much to be learned by traveling. Learning about new places and people, new foods and new customs. Learning to plan, read maps, pack a suitcase, make good choices with one’s souvenir allowance.

While books expand our imagination, travel expands our world view through experiences.

But travel doesn’t just mean expensive or lavish vacations.

Travel can include local experiences like a trip to the zoo or a hike in the woods. It can mean a picnic at the beach or day spent at the county fair. It can be a special occasion dinner at a “fancy restaurant” where best manners are required.

Travel, to me, means any experience that takes us outside of our own little world and opens our eyes to new people, places and ideas.

We loved them.

And always will.

Loving our children often means hugs and kisses, sweet words and “I love you”s. Of course it also means setting down ground rules to clearly identify expectations. And it means letting our kids work through decision making, using those boundaries as a safety net as they learn how to navigate the world.

As parents we show our love by protecting our children from harm, trusting and respecting them, encouraging them to become their own true selves, supporting them, guiding them and eventually letting them go to live their own lives and follow their own dreams.

I always say that we work so hard to teach our children to become independent than darn if they don’t just go off and become independent. But that’s ok. We do our job so they can do theirs.

And now that we are blessed with grandchildren, Peter and I have the wonderful opportunity to share these gifts with our next generation.

The best things you can do for your children AND your grandchildren?

Read to them, travel with them and love them.

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  1. Yes to all of this! I am definitely going to make sure my kid has a well rounded experience-I got a bucket list of things I want her to check out!
    Deanna recently posted…Key Lime CoveMy Profile

  2. I.LOVE.THIS.SO.MUCH!! My hubby and I were just talking the other night about potential Christmas ideas and I said that rather than give our kids so much stuff (which they don’t need), we should give a trip. You have settled it for me! And could not agree more about reading. That was a gift my mother definitely gave to me, and I am passing it along to my girls. In fact, Abby and I just finished filling out her latest Scholastic book order! :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…Hey Holidays, One At A Time!My Profile

    • Thanks, Ashley! And thanks for the Twitter love! I’ve started doing this with my nephews, too. Rather than giving them more Legos, I take them on some adventure which is great for all of us because we get to spend time together. Can’t wait to hear about your Christmas gift trip!
      Boy do I miss those Scholastic Books order forms…
      Mo Lux recently posted…The Three Best Things You Can Do For Your ChildrenMy Profile

  3. How wise of Kristen! I just today, bought a copy of the old Golden Book, “A Child’s Garden of Verses” to include with a baby gift!
    And as for traveling, I can say that having worked with inner city children, travel ANYWHERE! Even if it’s to the park down the street. The children I taught had never been to the mall which was five miles from their neighborhoods. I encouraged their parents to take the city bus wherever it went and explore the town. Libraries, museums, sandwich shops – anywhere!
    Great post.
    Leslie Anne recently posted…Comment on Auburn “Beets” Them All by Leslie AnneMy Profile

  4. I miss the Scoladtic book order forms too! But not perhaps the cheques for $1.98 etc that our school made us send in. For some reason they wouldn’t take cash! This is such a thoughtful and wise post. I shall share it far and wide. And man – Kristen must be quite a gal!
    Kelly L McKenzie recently posted…Butter Is Good For YouMy Profile

  5. I read to my kids until probably middle school – every night. My daughter loves to read, but my son hates it. Where did I go wrong? But we do plenty of travel and love 🙂
    Dana recently posted…Onion goggles and other things that don’t make me cryMy Profile

  6. Love this!!
    Chris and I taught our boys when they were little that the only things they NEED are food, water, oxygen and LOVE!!! But, I agree – reading and traveling are pretty important, too. We started reading to the boys from day 1 and they are both huge readers now as teens!!!
    Kim recently posted…My Heart Is OverflowingMy Profile

  7. I think this is wonderful! I have such fond memories of my mom reading to me when I was a child, and now I love reading to Eve (and watching the grandparents read to her). With Eve’s first birthday coming up, I would prefer experiential presents for her (and books) rather than clothes or toys, and I plan on taking her to more local trips and traveling with her as she gets older. And of course, I hope she knows I love her!
    Bev recently posted…It’s not even Halloween and I’m already thinking about ChristmasMy Profile

  8. This is SO true!! I love knowing I have raised three wanderers who love to read AND call home daily from wherever they are in the world! Have a great week, Mo!! xoxo
    Sandy recently posted…The Aman Grand Canal, VeniceMy Profile

  9. I also have twins (age 5!) and we have traveled so much with them already, even going to Spain and Portugal this past May/June. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to all the people who said not to bring children to Europe. Nonsense! They loved it and we had an absolute blast. As for reading, it’s a daily/nighty everyday thing. They love it and so do I so it’s a no-brainer! And love them? I couldn’t possibly love them more! At least that’s what I think and then somehow, I do.
    Allie recently posted…The Rundown – Quick & DirtyMy Profile

    • What an incredible gift you are giving your children. Good for you to not be discouraged by the naysayers who are clearly way less intrepid than you are! Go for it! And I love what you said about loving our kids (and in my case, grandchildren). It’s the infinite love that keeps on expanding every single day!
      Mo Lux recently posted…The Three Best Things You Can Do For Your ChildrenMy Profile

  10. Great post, Mo. I agree. I tried to pique my girls interest in reading. It turns out one is a reader, and one is not. Travel is also important. I was looking back at some old pics of vacations and re-lived the great memories. Have a wonderful rest of the week, sweet Mo.

    • I don’t think everyone needs to be a reader. I, myself, definitely have long periods during which I don’t pick up a book. But I bet that your encouragement sparked another kind of interest in your daughter – theater, movies, foreign language, blog reading! I love looking back at old vacation pics. And now that’s a reminder to me to print off more recent pictures because I LOVE having photo albums to pore over! Hope things are going well with your new family member!
      Mo Lux recently posted…The Three Best Things You Can Do For Your ChildrenMy Profile

  11. These are succinct and just perfect. I’m finding it even more fun to travel with my children now that they’re adults. Another bonus of being an empty nest mom!

  12. I read to them all the time when they grew up too – and now that they’re grown – we share favorites so the reading goes on and on.

    And the love? Well that goes without saying or effort!
    Barbara recently posted…The Miniaturist – In Fiction and Real LifeMy Profile

  13. Yes. Love.

    We just finished the first of the Encyclopedia Brown books as a read aloud. It’s a little dated in spots, but they loved it just the same.
    susan recently posted…#write31days and a crazy love for word playMy Profile

  14. i love this post. i can’t think of any better way to parent than to do these 3 things.
    catherine gacad recently posted…Death with DignityMy Profile

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