Have you come to a crossroads in life and wished you had someone to guide you? I did in my early and mid 20s. Married with my first child on the way, I had a job but nothing I could see myself doing forever. I had no direction in life. That time would have been so much easier if I had a mentor or some type of resource I could have referred to.
Your kids can have that kind of help, and this greatest gift of all truly comes right from you.
My wife and I created an email account for my 3-year-old son and another for our daughter who’s still in “the oven.” And today, I wrote my unborn child an email. I told her that I’m not perfect, but I’ll always love her. I told her that we’ll figure this thing called life out together.
As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day craziness and forget something that would made us laugh or feel proud or cry as a future memory. How will we be able to remember all of these great childhood happenings when our adult kids ask us what they were like as toddlers or they seek clarity and direction about how they should go about life. We probably can’t. At least I know my memory isn’t that great. Half the time, I’m relying on my wife’s memory of MY past.
But sending an email is so much easier. At the end of the day, month or even year, I can take a few minutes and write my children something heartfelt, important or funny. Something motivating and profound. Or maybe I just send them photos and videos of us doing things together as a family.
Our plan is to give them the passwords to these special email accounts at their high school or college graduation. Maybe earlier if we think they’re ready.
Ideas for this greatest gift for future unwrapping
Like the concept, but don’t have any idea what to send your kids. Well, you’re in luck, partner. I made a list:
- A picture of them or letter on their birthday every year.
- Did you (or someone else) teach them a life lesson today? Send an email reminding them of the moral of the story.
- Did you have to punish them for something they did that was inappropriate but was actually pretty hilarious? Tell them about it!
- Instead of letting school art projects clutter your home, keep the ones you really like, take pictures of the rest. Email them to your kid. Then throw away the wack artwork.
- Family pictures of your kids with your spouse, grandparents, great grandparents, their little friends and anyone else you think they will appreciate at an older age.
- All those videos on your phone that you’ll never watch again. Yep! Now your kids can re-watch them again in 20 years.
- Write them and apologize to them for a mistake you’re going to make in the future. Or pre-scold them for not calling you enough in college.
- Send them a list of your favorite books, documentaries, websites and movies.
- Tell your children to drop everything and go watch Breaking Bad or whatever is your favorite TV show of the moment.
- If you haven’t heard of StoryCorp, it’s an organization with a mission “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” There is a StoryCorp app that let’s you interview people. Let your kid interview you and you can then interview them. In addition to emailing the recording, it will be stored in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Pretty cool, right?
So while a photo on Facebook now might be worth a thousand words, thousands of words (and photos) over the course of decades are way more valuable. Give your kids this personal and greatest gift of your thoughts, memories and lessons when they come to a crossroads in life. I promise it will be a gift that keeps on giving.