Living our values, teaching by example

Any parent who has inadvertently uttered a choice word – and heard it echoed in a toddler-pitched voice – knows we are always on stage for our kids. Whether we’re having a good day or, especially, when we’re not, what we say and how we act is more influential than we might like at times. Role-modeling the behaviors we want to instill in our children can be fairly straightforward when it’s something as simple as, say, eating with silverware. When on our game, we recognize “teachable moments” and try to use a few words and actions instead of lectures to make a point. But ongoing, everyday attitudes speak the loudest. We can only hope they drown out those few moments when a not-so-nice word unexpectedly slips out.

Our values guide us in how we treat others and how we interact as a family, which we live daily through our actions and attitudes. In this issue of Carolina Parent, we explore thankfulness and gratitude, attitudes that take thoughtfulness and self-awareness to instill in our children (page 32). Beyond saying “please” and “thank you,” everyday actions and interactions show our children what it means to be thankful and how to help others through kindness.

Traditionally we give thanks this month with a meal and gathering of family and friends. In researching an article about cooking with kids, our writer found that inviting children into the kitchen brings unexpected benefits beyond sharing time and a meal together (page 37). Along with the traditional turkey dinner, November also kicks off the winter holiday season for many families. We help you get ready for this special time of year with our list of holiday parades, Santa sightings, tree lightings and other festivities in towns all around the Triangle (page 46). Set aside time to enjoy an afternoon or evening ringing in the season and celebrating in your community.

If you’re starting your holiday shopping, you’ll also find several gift suggestions for kids of all ages, culled from top-toy lists, product samples and recommendations (page 41). Pick up next month’s issue for ideas for parents, grandparents and teachers as well as last-minute stocking stuffers.

As the holiday season gets in full gear, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with things to do, gifts to purchase, meals to plan and people to see. Help your children learn the real value of gratitude, thankfulness and giving by how you spend your time and your priorities. Don’t worry if the turkey is overdone or the piecrust is too brown. Break out the games, go for a hike, tell family stories, volunteer at a shelter. That’s what your children – and you – will remember. And that’s what I’d like to see my son repeat in the future, when he’s on his own, with his own family.

Crickett Gibbons, Editor