Friday, April 18, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about values and what we pass down to our kids. Ever since Easter, it's been on my mind. I was telling someone around that time about my parents and how they are, by far, the most giving people that I know. They do the things that they probably don't want to be doing. And they do them positively and with humour and with grace. You'd never ever know that they might not want to be doing some of those things, for they undertake to them joyfully.

"Undertake to it joyfully." Man, what a valuable valuable thing; to be able to pass something like THAT down to your kids?

Throughout my mid to late twenties, I got quite interested in runes. I have a few sets of them around here still - a nice little clay set that I made myself one cold, wet winter in Squamish, with guitars, djembe drums, hot tea and overflowing ashtrays, when the climbing season was in hibernation . (ahhhhh....that was a magical winter.) Runes are an ancient Norse Viking form of magic and divination, that were also used as an alphabet for many different European nations and languages. Each of the 24 symbols holds meaning, and is believed to provide insight and recommendations to whatever thoughts you might want answers for.

"Undertake to do it joyfully" is a piece of my favourite rune; the one that holds the most significance for me - Dagaz. Dagaz looks like the infinity symbol (it's up above in that pile of runes on the right side towards the back) and is the basis for the tattoo on my lower back. Dagaz means Breakthrough/Transformation and the meaning behind the rune makes me shake in my booties when I think about it, cuz there couldn't be a more powerful and significant message for me and my life. It's too damn deep for me to even get into here and now. I've just tried and deleted it about 8 times. Believe me, it's significant shit! It changed the course of my life.

The end of it stated: "Considerable hard work can be involved in a time of transformation. Undertake to do it joyfully." aaahhhhh big sigh

It is a value that my parents live and breathe. It is a value that I try to live and breathe. And it is certainly a gift that I want to give to my children.
There are a whole bunch of values that I hope to pass on to my children. These are a few:

Making a list like this (even if it's a mental one!) is a good place to start the process . I'm sure that you recognize a few of your own values up there, too.

Sitting down with our spouse and coming up with a list of important values to us both is a good thing to do, if you're the type of people who are able to do stuff like that. (Personally, we're not. We talk about it at times, but we wouldn't sit down and make a list. Mostly because B.Rube wouldn't really be interested in the least. )

Figure out what strengths we each bring to the family - what values are easy for us to demonstrate and model, because they are just seemingly inherent to us? Those are good ones to start with. We know that modeling values and behaviour to our children is the most effective vehicle for getting our message out. So, some of them we're already reinforcing just by naturally doing them.

Which means that you're probably also reinforcing a few that you'd really rather not.

So, recognize the ones that you're going to have to work a bit harder on. For example, you want to teach your kid the importance of tolerance. If you yourself struggle with handling situations with tolerance (be it with the kids or with your spouse or parent), it is unlikely that your child is just going to easily pick up the value. They won't know what it is.

Who we are, how we present, what we say, what we do - are all very very important. We gotta walk the walk.

And, then add the next step: Label the behaviour for the little rubes. So that they know what these values are and what they look like.

So that they know that sharing their candy with their sister is called being "generous".

And that arguing about not wanting to do something is called being "assertive".

And that putting up with the bossy cousin is called being "tolerant".

And that following through with cleaning up the playroom before bed is called "reliable".

And that undertaking to do it joyfully is called "positiveness". (and Dagaz)

It means that we need to start paying attention more, though, and find the opportunities to make the statements. Believe me, there are opportunities in every single bit of behaviour that we see! even in the negative and undesireable stuff! (we'll get into that more specifically on another day.)

So, rather than just saying, "Good for you!!" "Good job!!" "Alright!! Good work!", you say, "Good for you! Look at how generous you're being! That's awesome." Or "I can see how thoughtful you are being by wondering whether your sister wants more chocolate too. That's very thoughtful of you! Good for you." (even though I KNOW she wants to steal her sister's chocolate).

Rather than your family just cleaning up the house and the kitchen because "you have to", frame it so that "tidying up shows respect for yourself, each other and your home."
Or, point out behaviour you see in other people, to help your kids see it too. When you see a car broken down and someone stopped to help, point out how "helpful or considerate or thoughtful" that person must be to stop and help, rather than just pointing out the broken-down car on the side of the road. When someone holds open the door for you while out, point out to your child how "kind" that person is.

Give meaning to the things that we do.
And undertake to do it joyfully.

p.s. I want to dedicate this post to my parents and take the opportunity to say Happy Anniversary to you guys ( a few days early....). You're the best. Don't EVER doubt the things you passed on to me.


Anonymous said...

Wow, you give me chills - you have a way of expressing things that I "know" but just can't articulate.

I have been working on a more positive approach in everything I do - I was experiencing a negative view on too many things - I love "undertaking to do it joyfully" and look forward to hearing more of your take on Dagaz...


Magnolia said...

I used to undertake nearly everything joyfully. I lost it somewhere along the way. Or ...maybe my ability to undertake to do all joyfully was sucked out of me. That's how it was sucked slowly but certainly out of me.
Time to grab it back!!
Thanks for the reminder...for making me stop and think....again.
Starting tomorrow..I will make a plan and take the steps I need to undertake to do it joyfully once again.
Once again inspired.

Magnolia said...

Todays goals to "undertake to do it joyfully".

Smile more.
Whisper when speaking to my kids.(This may seem exstream..but I need to start there and work my way back to normalcy.)
Stop and think before I react. (Ask for the time to think before I react.)

I feel more joyfull already.

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