The things we teach our children will have an impact on their lives in so many different ways--in negative or positive ways, how they view life, people, the way they think, their opinions. Children are shaped by the environment in which they grow and heavily influenced by their parents.
When my sister and I were young, our mother told us about how she struggled with being overweight as an adolescent and was made fun of. She taught us to always be aware of the feelings of people who were overweight because they are usually mistreated. That always stuck with me my whole life. I would try to put myself in their shoes and try to understand their feelings. I felt sorry for overweight people. That may have not been what they wanted from people either, but that is what stuck with me.
Then I had my own daughter. So from a young age I taught her to never make fun of overweight people and have compassion for people who look different than herself--whatever she might consider different. I added on to that also. She learned to not ignore introverted, shy people. I am an introvert and was very shy growing up. Often times I felt alone, shut out of groups, a third wheel, weird. It was just difficult for me to start a conversation, carry a conversation and very difficult to talk in a group of people. I was much better one-on-one. I told my daughter that the shy people wish that someone would come up and talk to them. My daughter is an extrovert. I also told her that introverts listen more than anything. They notice things more and pick up more about people than others realize. So she would sometimes talk to quiet people and draw them out of their shell a little. She genuinely cared about what they said and how they felt. She has learned empathy on levels that I don't think I've attained yet.
Another life lesson I taught her that was very important to me for her to learn was about how to view and think about mental health disorders and people that struggle with them. I have talked to her many times over about what I went through--all of it. She will ask questions sometimes. It's important she understand that people with mental health disorders are just people with an illness that needs to be treated like anything else. And when they get off their medication, things are not good for them or the people they are around--like most any illness. I taught her to not be afraid of people with depression, bi-polar or anything else. AND that Christians can deal with these same issues and still be Christians. The brain is an organ and needs help sometimes too. And we need to seek help in getting things in working order sometimes. And if we don't we are being irresponsible to ourselves and our condition will worsen--just like any other illness.
My daughter is currently on a mission's trip out of town. Yesterday they visited a mental health facility as part of the trip. She was so excited about going. And she said it was so amazing. I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say when she returns.
What you teach your children will have lasting consequences for their life. You can make it good or bad. Make them really good lessons they will take with them the rest of their life and maybe pass down to their children. To me, that's a grand inheritance.