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The Informed Parent

The Twelve Gifts of Self

by Carolyn Warnemuende, M.S.
Published on Dec. 05, 2011
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I love the holidays. Part of what makes them special is that from the time my children were young I have kept them relatively simple. If I overdo I become stressed. Life doesn’t feel very good and I’m not much fun to be with. When I keep material gifts to a few, select only those activities that will truly bring joy, and prepare easy-to-make holiday meals, the season is joyful for both my family and for me.

Recently I went through my files and found a handout copied on bright red paper titled “The Twelve Gifts of Self.” I have no idea where it came from or who initially wrote it since no author was identified. Reading through it I knew I wanted to share the ideas with The Informed Parent readers.

This month I offer these twelve suggestions, conceived by someone else, and with my description of what they mean for our children.

  1. The Gift of Time
    Our time is valuable. We need to make wise choices about how we use the twenty-four hours a day allotted to us. When we offer the gift of time, we are saying to others that they are important to us. When we give the gift of undivided time to our children, they become less demanding and needy.
  2. The Gift of a Good Example.
    Our children learn by watching us. When we speak kindly, behave honorably, and respect others, we teach our children the art of being compassionate human beings.
  3. The Gift of Acceptance.
    Acceptance is an act of respect. When people are accepted for who they are, they usually rise to becoming their highest and best self.
  4. The Gift of Seeing the Best in People.
    When we look for the best in others, they tend to bring forth those qualities. Our children want to please us. By seeing and acknowledging their best, they will act from that place.
  5. The Gift of Privacy.
    Each person needs both physical and personal space. By respecting our children’s need for privacy, they often become more forthright in sharing information with us.
  6. The Gift of Self-Esteem.
    When we use the effective parenting tools advocated in The Informed Parent, we foster positive self-esteem in our children.
  7. The Gift of Giving Up a Bad Habit.
    When we are willing to commit to giving up a bad habit, we serve as role models to our children. We demonstrate through our behavior, that people can change.
  8. The Gift of Self-Disclosure.
    When we willingly share our feelings and thoughts with others in a positive way, we give them the opportunity to truly know who we are.
  9. The Gift of Helping Someone Learn Something New.
    Everyone has something they want to learn. When we help others learn something new, we are investing in their future happiness. When we assist in our children’s learning process, we are also creating memories.
  10. The Gift of Listening.
    Listening with our full attention and without judgment may be the best gift we can give to another. When we really listen to our children and reflect back to them what we have heard, we open the door to deeper and more intimate communication.
  11. The Gift of Fun.
    Building times of fun into family life creates memories. Simple fun like hiking, playing games, or going on a picnic need not take lots of time. For activities to feel fun, they need to be relaxed and easy for everyone. Find time each week to have fun with your children.
  12. The Gift of Letting Others Give to Us.
    When we let others give to us, we give them the gift of joy. Most of us have felt the anticipation of having someone open a gift we have carefully chosen for them, or watch for their enthusiasm when we offer to help them with a task. Whether someone gives us a material gift, a gift of time, or another gift of self, we honor them and add to their happiness by graciously receiving it.

As we celebrate the holidays and focus on giving these twelve gifts of self, we are sure to feel the spirit of the season. HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL.




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