This post has the potential to be hilarious because some of you will get this reference and some will have no idea what I’m talking about. But do you remember that old commercial? It was a classic anti-drug ad that aired in 1987; and while I was only 5 at the time, I can remember it clear as day:
An oldie but a goodie. And this commercial has been made fun of countless times, but recently it popped into my head in a more serious capacity. As a parent to a heart child, you’ve got the immense responsibility of the health of your child, on top of all the other parenting stuff. But it’s sometimes easy to forget that kids – whether they have health problems or not – are like sponges. So what behaviors do we want them to absorb from us?
Imagine the world we’d live in if we strove to do something kind for someone every day. These are the kinds of things that will never get you a pat on the back or repayment. But it’s where you see someone’s need and you meet that need. Whether it’s financial, an arm around the shoulder, a warm meal, a listening ear…it goes such a long way towards making the world a better place. It’s also the kind of thing that will lift your spirits when you’re in the doldrums…and come on, you know we’ve all been there. Now imagine a world where our kids see us doing kind things for others and are compelled to do kind things themselves! That’s the world I want to live in: where my sons can show care for others who need it. So start doing kind things: their eyes are on you!
Yup, this means sometimes you just have to do those difficult, grown up things. It means doing what you say you’re going to do, even if it means passing on something enjoyable for a little bit. Yeah it’s no fun, but the effects of responsibility can last for so long. If you do the things you’re supposed to do, you can eventually raise your heart child to be a very responsible patient. Because like it or not, they’re not going to have (or want) mommy and daddy in their appointments with them. They’ll grow up and have to learn their diagnoses, their surgeries, their medications, etc. The same goes for schoolwork, housework, etc…but I promise you: your kid’s doctor will love you if you raise a responsible patient!
Obviously it’s good for your kids to see you taking care of yourself, but it’s also good to teach them to care for themselves mentally and emotionally. That means giving yourself some grace, taking a break when you need it, taking some deep breaths when things get overwhelming. While my son is still very young, I can imagine that adult life won’t take it easy on him when he’s grown. It’ll have all the same challenges with health added in to it. If I can teach him how to slow down, breathe, and center himself when things get stressful, then I feel like I’ve taught him something valuable.
A Positive Attitude
I mean, do I really need to explain this one?
Being a heart parent makes you specially qualified to help people who are struggling along this heart parent journey. It also gives you a heart (no pun intended) for any parent who is struggling. It’s unique to understand what people are going through, and you can really make a difference in someone’s life by using that experience to pick someone up when they need it. As your kids grow up, they can learn this from you and use their own experiences to make a difference!
And the list can go on, and on…
So remember guys, your kids are watching, learning, absorbing…model what you want them to be and I promise that your life will be so much better for it, and your kids will grow up to be amazing too. So when they say, “I learned it by watching you!” it will lead to more of this:
and not this: