Have you ever asked your children to define you in one word? Have you ever asked them what they see as the most important thing for your family? What would they put on a family crest to portray the identity of your family?
I remember when our children were little, and they brought home pictures made at school depicting scenes from our family life. Sometimes the way our children portrayed Tim and me in these pictures gave a frighting glimpse into what they observed as important to us: Here is Mommy and Daddy working, cooking, watching TV, on the computer etc.
The following is an excerpt from a newsletter from Shepherd’s Press. I thought it was good timing as the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is number one on four different New York Times bestseller lists; it speaks to the legacy we leave our kids and what they learn about what we value by watching us.
Steve Jobs was a legend. He was also a master communicator and presenter. Yet, despite all of this there was one area Jobs recognized where he was still lacking. Steve Jobs was a private man, apparently even from his own children. Several media outlets, including USA Today, put it this way:
“I wanted my kids to know me,” Jobs was quoted as saying by Pulitzer Prize nominee Walter Isaacson, when he asked the Apple co-founder why he authorized a tell-all biography after living a private, almost ascetic life. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did,” Jobs told Isaacson in their final interview at Jobs’ home in Palo Alto, California.
Millions have benefited from Jobs’ creativity while his own children knew him not. In the world we live in we often benefit from the losses of others, even if we are unaware of this loss. Given a personal one-on-one setting, which of us would have been comfortable telling Steve Jobs to forfeit his relationship with children so that we could have an iPhone? But because we didn’t know Steve Jobs, we didn’t have that choice.
This article broke my heart for Steve Jobs and his family. I’m sure they do not need my sympathy, but the lesson hits home. What are Tim and I spending our time and effort on, and how do those decisions affect our family? What do our children think are the most important values of our family? We don’t want to wait until after they are gone from our house or we are gone from their life to pass on values. We don’t want them to read it on a blog, in a book or on a website.
So the conversation in our house begins about how we can be intentional to make space now in our schedule, in our choices, and in our hearts for these moments. How are you doing that in your house and with your kids? What is the word your kids use to describe your family? What would be the symbols on your family crest?
From Shepherds Press: A new book by the author of this newsletter excerpt: Steve Zollos Time for the Talk – encouraging your son to be the man God wants him to be.
Family Crest Activity: websites for creating a family crest and motto – these activities can help your family talk about values and beliefs that are important.