When you think about investing in your children, you probably think of saving for college. Or maybe providing things like a private school education, music lessons, or a trust fund come to mind. But there’s another kind of investment in your children that’s arguably more important than any other you can make—investing in your relationship.
Taking time and effort to show up for your children will likely pay better dividends in their lives than any monetary investment, and I’ve recently come across three unique and heartfelt ways to make it happen.
1. Acknowledge their everyday accomplishments.
There are few things we know for sure as parents. One of them is that lasting happiness comes from a deeper sense of purpose, pride, identity and satisfaction with oneself. John Vroman of the Front Row Dads community and podcast helps to foster this sense of purpose and pride with his children by taking pictures of the things he catches them doing that he admires or wants to encourage, prints them out, and writes them a little note on the back about why this captured moment made him proud. It shows his children he’s present in their lives while also encouraging them to develop positive traits and habits.
This is something we can all easily adopt—especially with our smart phones and 1-hour photo orders. It could take the shape of “I loved how you showed leadership to your team in today’s game” or “I can tell you put a lot of effort into mastering that new song” or “I admire how you took the time to help your brother with his homework today.”
2. Periodically document your lives together.
Each year, a colleague of mine hires a videographer to interview her and her husband about their year together and with their daughter. They talk about memorable moments, accomplishments, vacations, challenges they’ve worked to overcome, what they’re looking forward to in the New Year and more. They’re gradually compiling a library of videos that their daughter will be able to treasure for years to come—including after they’re gone.
If hiring a videographer is outside of your budget, interview each other and record your stories on your phone. Consider investing in a tripod and ring light for a more polished product, and use iMovie or a simple tool like Montage to edit, put clips together, and add music.
3. Write letters to your kids.
This is one of my personal favorites. One year for Valentine’s Day, I wrote each of my daughters a letter telling them what I love about them, what I feel makes them special, and why I’m so proud of them. Another mother I know keeps journals for her children, writing entries throughout the years, talking about each child’s age and stage, their loves and hates, special moments, and things they’ve done together day to day. She plans to give them to her kids when they’re older so they can learn about the years they were too young to remember.
Each of these three activities shows your kids that they’re worthy of sharing your time, which is more precious than sharing your money. Taking a few moments to show up, pay attention, and reflect that back to them will help you to build the kind of relationships every parent wants with their children—while raising them into kind, accomplished adults.
How do you show up for your children?