Most of our memories of our youth are lost in the aether of childhood. But what do we remember the most? It's important to mind how our kids will remember us, too.
One day, you will find your kids a little older and a little wiser. You’ll ask what your kids remember from their childhood. Then they may surprise you by telling you what stood out from all of their memories.
Oftentimes you may not even recall what they remember. And it comes as a surprise why that memory is so important instead of other ones.
It does make you wonder, what are you doing now that they will remember? What will they carry with them as they become adults? Even you have childhood memories of your parents. What will your child’s be?
When kids remember
Are they going to remember that time you missed their school performance? That day in Disneyland? Or that time when you forgave them for hitting you?
There will always be certain memories that will stick with your kids until they’re adults and this will mould them into the people they will become. So it’s good to be mindful of how we spend our time with them early on.
Memories are funny things. Your kids may not remember that vacation at the beach or their second birthday party. They may even create false memories. But kids remember that you spent time with them, that they felt important, that they were happy.
So what exactly do they remember?
7 things your kids remember about you
1. Your experiences with them
They might not remember every gift you gave to them ever, but kids remember how you spent time with them around the gifts. If they can’t remember if they’ve ever spent time with you around those gifts, it probably means there’s nothing to remember.
Most of the time, we really can’t tell what’s going to stick. People remember random things for no apparent reason. Maybe what they remember is a reflection of a deep need or preference.
Whatever the reasons are, people emotionally connect to experiences, not things.
They remember singular things not for their value but for the significance in their lives. Memories are often experiences around the thing, or about who gave the thing itself.
2. Putting them first
As parents in the digital age, we may be guilty of experiencing our children’s milestones through the lens of a camera. Why do we always have to keep a device between us and our experiences? It may appear to kids that we are not really in the moment.
So give your child your undivided attention. Put down your smartphone and be with them. Make them feel they have all of you, in the moment. This will stay with them.
3. Your words of encouragement
They may range from “I’m proud of you,” to “You’re so funny.” Anything you say that affects their self-worth and identity from an early age will stay with them. So be more positive than you are critical.
4. How you handled tough situations
Your children look up to you as a role model. Your actions signal how they can interact with the world. They need someone who can show them the way to navigate life.
When you crack under pressure, they can tell. This can make kids uncomfortable and unsure. And in turn, they might deal with stress the same you do.
When the going gets tough, they will use you as a template for how to react to frustration, loss, and all sorts of problems.
5. Your absence
Though this may sound like a bad thing, it’s really about contrast. Sure, they’ll remember the times you weren’t there for them. But in remembering the times you weren’t there, they will remember your presence all the more.
Now, we’re not telling you to be absent in your children’s life just to make the times you are present better. We’re just saying that in healthy amounts, absence creates longing. It creates a chance to build stories while you’re apart, so you can tell each other about your day.
6. The way you behave around other adults
Your kids will always try to repeat whatever it is you do, whether it’s how you talk to someone or how you treat people. They’ll pick that up and even repeat it. So always be aware of how you talk and act.
They learn from you. Remember that kids remember how adults show kindness. They are especially attuned to how you treat your partner. So be positive and treat each other well.
7. How you made them feel safe (or unsafe)
At the heart of every child is a need for protection, a vulnerability that can only be assuaged by a parent. Your kids remember the times you assured them that they’re safe, the times you took care of the monsters under their bed, or in the closet. They will remember how you held them when they woke up from a nightmare.
But sometimes, they will also remember when you become the monster they’re afraid of. It could be that time when you lost your patience so you threw your anger at them instead. This is difficult to deal with, so if ever they see you angry, make sure you comfort them afterwards. Make them feel safe again.
Fill your kids’ childhood with memories
With these in mind, you don’t have to make a 110% effort to make sure every day of your children’s life is memorable. It can be something as simple as a kind word that they will remember all their life. Be kind, compassionate, and keep them safe. Make memories with them, and maybe in the future, you can talk about the best times you had together.