A legacy is an enduring impact that you make on those who outlive you. (Dave Ramsey)
What comes to your mind when you think about leaving a legacy through your kids?
I recently attended the funeral of a person who died in his old age, leaving his sons a thriving business that would keep them financially set for life. There was no talk about what a great dad he was or about how he influenced others for good. The words mentioned at his service focused on how he was a hard worker and how he built a healthy business.
I left feeling like something was missing, like maybe he’d actually missed the point of being a father to four boys. Perhaps some would say he left a great legacy in his business and in his bank account.
However, to me it seemed rather pointless. I saw the dysfunction in his family and knew that even though he built a business and provided for his family, he forgot to be a dad in the process.
2 Types of Legacy
The dictionary differentiates between two types of legacy:
- One is “a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest He left us a legacy of a million dollars.“
- The other is “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past: The legacy of the ancient philosophers or The war left a legacy of pain and suffering.“
The first legacy is tangible, something that you can actually hold in your hands. The second is not necessarily visible, instead it gets passed on through the heart and mind.
If you want to leave a legacy through your life and through your children that lasts longer than it takes them to spend all your money, then the legacy you want to leave is not a full bank account or a successful business.
A lasting legacy is not about financial security; it’s about what’s in the heart of the people you leave behind. It is the people who are touched and impacted in a positive and spiritual way by the life you’ve lived.
Our kids are 27, 30 and 33 and we are already starting to see the fruits of the legacy we strived to build in them. We see our oldest in her 9th year of teaching kindergarten, loving her “littles” as she imparts life and academic skills.
We see our son being a wise voice in the life of his friends and co-workers. His good friends know where to turn for a listening ear and for sound advice.
We see our youngest daughter showering others with compassion, whether it’s a homeless person she passes by or friend who needs financial help.
As parents, we leave a glorious legacy when we raise kids who compassionate, honest, strong, full of integrity. As parents, we leave a lasting legacy when we raise champions who want to be leaders and positively impact others.
How to Leave a Lasting Legacy
If you’ve decided that you want to leave your kids a legacy that transcends their bank account, then you must take some very important steps.
- You must parent for the future. Ask yourself, “what kind of an adult do I want my child to become?” and then factor that into your everyday decisions.
- You must parent their heart, not just default to behavior modification. Seeking to control their behavior may give you short term victories, but will not result in raising children to be adults that have core values to keep them strong and grounded.
All of us want to feel like our lives matter, that we are leaving behind something far more valuable than money. We want to feel like we touched lives, made a positive difference in our world.
That must start within the home. It must start with you deciding TODAY what type of legacy you want to leave and then taking the steps to make that a priority in your life.
A legacy gives you an opportunity to live for a purpose that’s bigger than yourself. It allows you to change your family tree, not just for your children, but for generations to come! (Dave Ramsey)
It’s not too late to leave a lasting legacy with your children. If you’d like to do that but are not sure how to get started, please call me for a free consultation.