Every family has some kind of family tradition. Some stretch back for generations, some just started. Some focus on honor and service, others are less benevolent. Hank Williams, Jr. sang about his with more than a little irony.
The thing about family traditions is that we often don’t know we’re forming them or passing them on.
One of my college psychology professors told the story of an accidental tradition. He noticed his wife would cut both ends of the Thanksgiving ham before she put it in the oven. When he asked her why, she replied, “I don’t know. That’s just the way Mom taught me.” Later, he asked his mother-in-law the same question and got the same response. When they visited his grandmother-in-law, he got to the bottom of the mystery. “Are they still doing that?” she asked. “I used to cook on a pot-bellied stove. I had to cut the ends off the ham to get it to fit in that little bitty oven.”
Every thing we do has the potential to become an unthinking tradition. So we must be very careful and thoughtful about the traditions we teach.
I’ll admit I can only claim mixed results on this score when I was raising kids. Like so many parents, I can’t say for certain that my oldest could balance a checkbook when he graduated from high school. My shortcoming there. I’m pretty sure Suna’s oldest could, but he is a math nerd who went on to get a degree in economics. However, I can’t say whether he actually does routinely reconcile his bank accounts. What I can say is that I did my best to model ethics, honor, and a service mindset as traditions I hoped to pass on.
That’s one reason I’m proud to be a member of FortuneBuilders. They have a program that teaches teenagers the basics of investing and self-reliance. It’s called Future FortuneBuilders. Here’s part of what one young woman had to say about it:
Honestly, at first I didn’t really want to go, thinking it was some boring conference talking about investing, and I didn’t want to do that my whole life. However, as I sat there the first day in the conference room, and listened to JP sharing his experiences and teaching me that I could achieve financial freedom and work because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to, and be able to do a job that I love for the rest of my life, I was inspired… I will set my clear goals, and set out to conquer them, so I will be able to live life to its fullest, and do what I love in the process…
That’s the kind of tradition I want to leave behind me. Even though I’m done with raising kids, I’m still working on being a good role model.