Time passes more quickly as we age. One minute your children are in diapers and struggling to talk, and the next they're graduating high school and starting their own families. It makes one wonder if the things you teach your children actually make an impact.
The truth is, you may never know.
But you leave a greater impact on your children than you may realize. These eight things are what molded them into the great men and women they have now become:
1. When you were there to protect them
Those nightmare or thunderstorm-filled nights when you allowed them to find comfort in your bed. Every time you got up in the middle of the night when they had an accident and you told them everything would be all right. Those days when when you held them while they cried from feeling so sick. And every time their heart broke, you would always be there with a warm hug and a tub of ice cream to help them heal. You sacrificed your sleep and energy for the their sake, and they will never forget that.
2. Your advice
Life is an uphill battle. As a parent, you have years of experience behind you. Your children look to you for your advice and guidance through every question or concern they have. Though you don't have all the answers, they are eternally grateful for the support you offer them. Whether or not they follow your advice or, it always sticks with them.
3. The extra time you spent with them
Every holiday, every vacation, every time you took a day off and every bit of time you spent with your child made priceless memories. They remember when you came to their performances, their sporting events and everything that was important to them. Having you there for support meant everything.
4. Those moments when you couldn't stop laughing
Sometimes the strongest memories we have are ones where we couldn't stop laughing. Be it from inside jokes among family members or during family game night when you can't even remember what was so funny. These joyful, happy memories are powerful and stay with everyone (especially your children) through life. Memories full of laughter are the ones your children will cherish the most.
5. Old traditions and new ones
Traditions shape your life immensely. They're passed on for generations. They make an impact on your children because they mean something to you. Most importantly, the traditions that make the greatest impact are the ones your children will pass on. Your family's traditions are what make you unique from all the rest, which is why they're one of the most important things your children will remember about you.
6. When they saw you pray
Whatever you believe, every single time express your beliefs in front of your children, they will remember. Those moments you got down on your knees and prayed are images your children will hold onto. Whether they saw you praying privately or when you prayed as a family, those moments of vulnerability and pleas to God are special to them. They teach your children about your character, what you believe, and what you value most.
7. How you treated your spouse
For every time you kissed, held hands or embarrassed your children in public, they remember the way you treated each other. Your children hold onto every word you say and every action you make. They take note of every little thing you say about your spouse, both good and bad. Treat your spouse with respect and speak no ill toward them in front of others. Your children always hold onto love you share for your spouse, and it will influence their own relationships as they grow.
8. The things you sacrificed for them
There are many good things you sacrificed for your family's benefit. Your children and your spouse mean more to you than anything, and sometimes you take the hard road if it is best for them. And your children notice. They respect you for the dreams and aspirations you've put aside in order to sustain them. They will always remember how hard you worked to build the best life you could for them. They will take all those memories and lessons they've learned from you and build their own lives, their own families. Your influence will be felt for many generations.