When I was growing up and leaving the house, my parents and grandparents used to say, “Be a good boy!”

When I became a parent and our children were leaving, we decided to say, “Remember what your name is!” It’s a subtle way of saying, be as proud of your name as we are! I have heard other parents jokingly say, “If you get into trouble, don’t tell anyone your name.” One father said to his son, “When you act that way, don’t tell anyone you belong to me!”

Being proud of each other is one of the strong characteristics of a strong family. It’s important for us to be able to say, “I’m proud of you” to those we live with at home. A central part of our identity which each of us feels is caught in what we call ourselves. One of the most important gifts a family can give a child is the sense of having a good name. It can’t be measured in dollars or possessions. A family’s reputation is associated with its name!

I would have a hard time counting the adults when they have grown up feel the burden they have carried, remembering what they were called in early years. A parent who constantly calls his child “stupid” sinks a dagger into his psyche that is difficult to remove. Most young girls enjoy the pride they hear in a father’s voice who calls them “princess.” Our words can deeply wound our children. Negative words wound like arrows. Positive words are like a healing salve on an incision.

Try expressing appreciation for your relationship by simply saying, “I’m proud of you.” Or, “I like being called your Mom or Dad.” It’s what we tried to accomplish with, “Remember what your name is.” You may be surprised by the impact you make with the positive messages you send to your children. Children can even make their parents feel a special sense of appreciation by telling them how proud they are to be a child of your family.

You can touch the world by creating a strong family. Make your children proud of your name and theirs. It will be one of your gifts to the community where you live.

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Dr. James E. Kilgore retired as President of the International Family Foundation and lives in Canton. His most recent book, “Living Without Limits,” was published in late 2019 and is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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