teachable moment

The Greatest Lesson I’ve Taught My Son

As parents, we often wonder what our children observe and learn from us. We strive to be good examples, say the right things, teach right from wrong, demonstrate our faith, and probably most importantly, let our actions speak louder than our words. Our kids learn most from what they see us do and whether our words and our actions align. [Tweet This]

Many times parents have told me they have no right to prevent their kids from doing something wrong because they know the parent has done the same thing. Irrespective, there can be an admission of the wrong, an explanation of why it was a mistake, and a teachable moment. But a lot of folks find it easier to just get along. Lesson learned but probably not the lesson that should be taught.

When I was asked to write about the greatest lesson I’ve taught my son, a lot of thoughts went through my mind. There have been a lot of teaching moments over the years. But none is more important than the ones that he remembers. So I asked him what was the greatest among them. His answer was surprising because it was introspective, deep and, at the same time, very organic. He didn’t respond with, “Oh, it was that time I got in trouble for…” He said I taught him the following words.

Sacrifice. Self Awareness. Selflessness. Service.  

He said that I taught him how fortunate we are as a family to be able to be in a position to serve others. He saw by example a servant’s heart. Serving others always has been part of our family DNA. We serve others not only during the holidays but year around. We serve our family. We serve strangers. We serve those who want to get better at what they do. There is always someone around, someone on the phone, someone in need. Just during the course of our everyday life, we try to serve others as a matter of family culture.

My son has picked up on this and, now as he is in college away from home, he sees it as the greatest lesson he has been taught. There was no one time that he was sat down and was told, “Son, let me tell you the greatest lesson you’ll ever learn is in five words—service, selflessness, sacrifice to others.” No, this wasn’t an “aha” moment. This was the accumulation of our words and deeds over the years, the gleanings of watching and listening and doing.

You see, we are a family of faith. The Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive and that faith is demonstrated by a person’s deeds. I am truly blessed that my son has learned this great lesson so early in his life. It is also a great blessing to see that he was taught by the sum of our words and deeds. There is a great lesson that your son is learning as well. He can see where your words and your actions intersect in life. It’s often when we are not even aware that the greatest lesson is being taught.

What is the greatest lesson you have taught your kids?

Troy Vincent
Troy Vincent

Highly respected by business, sports, political, and community leaders, Troy Vincent earned countless accolades including the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, NFL Players Association Byron Whizzer White Award, Sporting News #1 Good Guy, and NFL Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award.

  • Sgpratt

    So true. I can’t even remember how many times my son has brought up something I said or did that I didn’t have any memory of but that resonated with him. They’re ALWAYS watching and listening.

  • Chester Hall

    I’m not for sure what lessons I have taught my son, Mason (8) so early on, but I’m sure there are some. He sees me doing a lot for the community, serving as sports coaches, helping “at-potential” high school students, and volunteering for various civic groups, churches, fraternities, and sororities. I’ll have to ask him when I get home.

    My father (d. 2014) and I never really had an incredible relationship. He was in the home, he took care of my mother, brother, and I, he loved his nuclear and extended family, and he spent time with us, supporting our every endeavor. He was Dad and I loved him. We had “the talk,” he taught me how to drive a manual, how to treat a girl on a date, the normal dad stuff, but it was after his passing when I realized he was so much more, especially when many of his responsibilities as a family man fell back to me.

    It’s funny how people never tell you how fortunate you are to have a loving parent and role model in your life until they are gone. They probably feel that you already know. Thinking back, I probably took it for granted. It wasn’t until after he passed away that I realized how much of an impact he had on the world around him and the magnitude of his importance to people’s everyday lives. Even though he was just my dad, he was so much more to so many others. I won’t go into details, but to illustrate a comparison, the funeral procession resembled a Thanksgiving Day parade, and my mother’s living room, with all of the flowers, could’ve passed for one of the floats.

    The most important lesson my father taught me, without verbally doing so, was in his death…be kind to everyone you meet. It doesn’t take any effort to say “Hi!” first, smile, tell a corny joke, share your joy, or be a shoulder to lean on. Everyone that spoke to me about him, or shared their condolences, gave him high praise and spoke of some story where he was the reason for their joy at that moment. He made people laugh, and everyone needs a bit of happiness in their lives. I don’t know what my son is learning from me, but if he gets just that one lesson from me, then I have done my job as his Dad.

    This was my father…and his favorite corny joke. Thanks for reading.

    “You wanna hear a dirty joke?”
    “A white horse fell in a mud hole!”

    “You wanna hear a clean joke?”
    “He took a bath!”

  • stevep33

    To continue with your “s” theme….Surrender – to God’s will. When we seek His will, we will find it easy to: serve, be selflessness and sacrifice for others.

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