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I’ve often heard the phrase “Charity Starts At Home” growing up.  It was usually said when my parents or sibling wanted me to share whatever I had with someone else. Being a religious family, usually the statement would have a guilt trip tied to it concerning God and how He wouldn’t like me being selfish. For what it’s worth, I grew up to be a very giving person due to these experiences as a kid. When I reflect on how my husband and I are raising our child, this statement resonates even more because how she is and who she will become does indeed start at home.

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What my husband and I do as individuals, as a married couple and as her parents greatly affect her life. It’s up to us to not only use our words but also our actions to help shape and mold her as she grows. She notices every lie (playful or not), every rise in tone as one or both of us become upset in an argument, every loving touch, and every tender kiss. She also notices every time we don’t agree on a topic and tries to capitalize on it.  My husband and I have learned early on to ask her the question while we’re both in the room to ensure all three of us are on the same page and to show her that mommy and daddy will always be united when it comes to her. We want to also teach her that lies will always unravel and truth will always be revealed. It doesn’t matter if the lie was intentional, lies will always be uncovered.

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When I think of how we’re raising her, I can’t help but to think of how the consequences of our choices are affecting her.  What I mean by this is that while we’re raising her to think and choose for herself, even the choices that we’re making as her parents will bring forth a consequence that she will have to endure as well. Although we’re teaching her to make choices that will provide the best consequence for her, we’re also teaching her that the result of her choices will not stop with her and to be considerate of others.  We’re helping her to realize that every choice may not be what she’d like but it’s about the bigger picture.  Slowly but surely she’s starting to understand that her happiness is in her own hands. She will not quite understand totally what this is about but eventually she will. What I don’t want to do is skip out on teaching her something that can possibly make or break her self-esteem.

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Kindness is another one that I’ve heard should start at home. It’s easy to be kind when one is kind to you. But teaching a four year-old how to be kind when they don’t quite understand what kindness is makes one think of how kindness is being shown through their own life.  I know it has made me re-examine how I show her kindness. Kindness doesn’t mean weakness at all. It doesn’t mean that she gets over on me. It means that I consider her in what I do. It means being gentle in how I deal with her. In being kind to her, it is my hope that she sees how to be kind to others.

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Regardless of what has been said should start at home, my husband and I know we are part of the reasons why she will be whomever she will become.  Our wishes, hopes and dreams for what we’d like for her to be means nothing if our actions and words contradict them. Kids see what we adults do and the reenact them. They say what we say and they make choices that are based on what our actions and words. So that’s what we, as her parents, are charged with when it comes to raising our daughter. We are charged with speaking and acting in such a way that when she wants to reenact the behaviors she sees at home, her actions will reflect the charitable, kind, loving, supportive home we work so hard to provide her.

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Until next time, think about this: home is not only where the heart is but is also the starting ground for the shaping of our future. Our job as parents is to make sure we don’t raise a child to become an adult with which no one wants to deal.  Fingers crossed that her life as an adult will positively reflect the teachings she received from us during her childhood.

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