I think most parents work really hard to instill great values in their kids from a young age. My parents did. They taught us to be humble and to work hard. And while they taught me the importance of the thank you note (we wrote them all the time for every single present – I remember after one birthday party wishing for no more presents so I didn’t have to write so many notes!) and unexpected thoughtfulness (where you go out of your way to do something for someone else – for no reason in particular), it was actually my college BFF that really instilled these values in me.
I remember watching her write thank you notes and cards to her family and friends all through college, oftentimes just to say hi. She definitely didn’t miss a birthday or holiday and she always was so personal in her messages to others.
I also remember the countless times she would do for others just because… picking up the tab for them to come to lunch because she knew they were short on cash, or driving out of her way to help someone in need of a ride.
During my volleyball preseason one year, I was drowning in piles of laundry, but kept putting it off because when I had free/down time from hours of practices, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the laundry mat all day on campus and keep an eye on stuff. Wouldn’t you know that I came in from practice one day and she had washed and folded 10 loads for me!!!!! Wow! With no expectation of anything in return, and not expecting me to give her heaps of thanks. She just saw that I had a need and she took care of it.
There are so many other examples I could share of her “taking care of others” and the influence it imparted on me until I saw someone my own age putting service into action.
I know that Dean and I will work hard to try to instill great values and a spirit of service with our kids. But I also know that it may take seeing someone their own age putting it into action for them to really connect with it and understand the importance. I hope that our kids are blessed with great friends who drive them to be better people and cement some of the values we talk about in our home.