Passing On Key Life Lessons
By Scott Schimmel
"You sure seem to be having a lazy day."
I spoke those words in passing to my six-year-old son many years ago when I came back after a trip to the grocery store after finding him playing on the floor of his room exactly where he was before I left. His response, "Umm, yeah, Daddy- I'm a kid, this is what kids do."
What on earth came out of my mouth in the first place? Was I actually criticizing my son for playing on a Saturday? What did I expect him to be doing…the yard work? It was one of those rare insightful moments that parents can have if they're paying attention where your own kid becomes a life instructor, revealing a hidden truth just by being themselves. I grew up in a family where work was valued very highly, and a consistent message was this: a busy activity of housework, homework, or actual work was good- relaxing and playing was what bad, lazy people do.
We all see life through particular lenses.
It's not a bad thing, but you've been taught to view life's circumstances through different frames that likely confirm the biases that you already hold on to. If you have a frame that says people only look out for themselves, for example, then you'll likely see plenty of examples of people's selfish behavior to confirm your frame to be true. But if you have a frame that says all people are generally decent and kind, then you'll find no shortage of real-life examples of acts of kindness and generosity.
Your frames come from your family.
Likely without being deliberate or intentional, we all pick up the frames that are handed down to us from the family who raised us. The way they see the world is the way we see the world. Until, of course, you get older and realize their frames aren't working for you. Likely, some of the frames you've been given have been helpful and productive for you. They've helped you make sense of the world, trust good people to do good things, and given you a foundation to grow from.
Parents pass down their frames to their children.
For some, it might be a deliberate handoff. You have phrases that you repeat over and over again so they stick in their brains. For others, it might be more unintentional or implicit. Kids watch their parents’ reactions to certain people or situations. They observe how their parents talk about money. They notice how their parents treat their aunts and uncles. But the point is, the kids always get the message.
The thing about your frames is that they aren't fixed and can be substituted for different ones.
You've been taught certain things about big areas of life: family, money, work, time, spirituality, what it means to be a neighbor, and the meaning of friendship- and the first important step is to reflect about what you've learned. The second step, though, is to examine those frames to see what you think, to test them to see if they're productive for you, and then recognize you have the power to create your own frames about life.
The frames you've created and been given about this life will shape everything you see and do.
Are your frames helping you flourish and thrive, or do some of them need to be switched out for others?