If you thought the most important legacy you can leave your children is about money, read this now.
Bob and Bea have been married for 25 years. They’re at a stage in their lives where it’s the two of them – empty nesters. Their adult children are out of the house. Their son, 21, is a senior in college and is in a serious love relationship. And their daughter, 23, recently got engaged. So now, it is just the two of them at home. It’s been that way for the past four years.
One night, Bob and Bea decided to have a conversation about the legacy they wanted to leave for their adult children and their future grandchildren. They were talking about money. While this is important, unbeknownst to both of them, they had already left a lifetime legacy to their son and daughter in other vital areas, as well. Most importantly, it included how to be married, survive, and hopefully thrive, in love and marriage. The legacy they already left for both their son and daughter began while their children were growing up and developing from childhood into adulthood.
Since parents are a child’s first role models, everything they say and do when things are going well between them, as well as when they are not, matter because they are providing a “How to Manual” for creating a mindset and skill set for living under the same roof in harmony or disharmony.
Three Specific Areas of Legacy
There are three specific areas, besides money, that children need role models from their parents and caretakers. Here’s a snapshot of the legacy Bob and Bea provided for their children during their lifetime about how a husband and wife successfully functions “day by day” in a marriage.
Having a Purpose and Vision for Life
The first legacy is how to develop and manifest a “Purpose” and a “Vision” for a successful marriage, family, and life together. They modeled how essential it is to have a focus based on having a bigger purpose and vision of a successful marriage, family, and life.
This aspect is important because having a purpose and a vision provides a reason and perspective to focus on mutual success. It gives perspective and a reminder of why both partners are together, especially when challenges surface. What a person “focuses on expands.” Bob and Bea knew all too well that focusing on each other’s negative characteristics would result in anger, frustration, and resentment. They also knew that focusing on and appreciating each other’s positive attributes activated more positive feelings that recharged their relationship and inspired each to become better persons.
Communicating Effectively to Show Love and Appreciation
The second legacy is how to consistently communicate both verbally and nonverbally how much they mattered to each other. These messages were expressed in small and large ways through words, deeds, the tone of voice gestures, facial expressions and more. The consistency of this quality of communication nurtured and strengthened their bond, which was (and still is) the foundation of their long-term, satisfying marriage. The objective is to avoid taking each other for granted, leave a legacy of daily small gestures and expressions of love, care, and kindness.
Managing Conflict to Grow into Better People
The third legacy parents need to leave for their growing and developing children during the years of their growth and development is how to respectfully resolve, dissolve and manage conflict by communicating in a way that stretches and grows each spouse into becoming a better person. This legacy was the most challenging one for Bob and Bea.
Instead of not knowing how to efficiently deal with unresolved arguments and conflict about inevitable and sometimes severe problems, Bob and Bea demonstrated how to solve, dissolve or manage problems. It took time and lots of practice, but well worth the time and energy to accomplish. They both knew that mastering this mindset and skillset was crucial to their growth and development as adults and they were committed to being successful in this area. Their children were watching and learning.
Developing this skill is important because unresolved conflict leading to communication breakdown is the #1 killer of love and marriage relationships. Communication breakdown leaves couples feeling hurt, angry, frustrated, sad and scared as you drift further apart with every new conflict. Since you can’t solve a problem at the level of thinking and acting that created it, a new system of communicating is needed to replace the one that doesn’t work.
Like Bea and Bob, as the primary role models for your children of any age, leaving a legacy in these three intangible areas along with the tangibles (money, for example) is as important and must be included in your legacy. For more support, we have described how to resolve these types of communication breakdowns in-depth in our book, Mining for Gold in Your Marriage, available on Amazon.
We would love to hear your thoughts and comments!
To your relationship success,
Jesse and Melva
Learn more about them by visiting their website, www.jesseandmelva.com