Have you ever sat in a public place and people-watched? It’s such an interesting pastime. As a mom, it’s one of my favorite things to do. But it’s not passing strangers that I watch; I love watching my kids play and interact with each other. I observe them with my parents, their father, the nanny and family friends. They’re such creative characters, but they’re also inquisitive little sponges that soak up various elements of their environment, and that includes whatever they learn from me. So as I observe them, I also check in with myself to determine if the values I hope to instill in them are being absorbed into their social development patterns.

So what are biggest values that I try to teach my boys? Well, there are three big ones for me at this stage of their development. I want more than anything to see them develop and incorporate love as a central motivation for their various interactions and relationships. Their love for each other is pretty perfect right now. I rarely see sibling rivalry. In fact, I see the exact opposite. They’re cute little shadows of each other; the oldest has always looked out for his brother, and “baby” has taken cues and he reciprocates (as much as he can). The boys express their love for mommy, daddy, grandma and grandpa in deliberate, positive ways. For the most part, they are extremely courteous, polite and carefree.

Along with love, I work to instill respect into their thought processes and interaction. It is extremely important to me that they not only respect me, but that they respect everyone. Regardless of background, abilities, gender or orientation, appreciating goodness in everyone will be a seed that I water in them until I see it sprout in their words, actions and behaviors. They will ABSOLUTELY appreciate women; that will never be up for debate. It’s a value I’m actively cementing into their character even now. The slightest hint of disrespect or out-of-line behavior with the nanny or any of their female playmates sends Mom into strict correction mode.

Katee Grace Photography

As a female business woman, I have seen more than my fair share of misogyny, and I unquestionably will not raise boys with that mentality. They will understand that women are equal to them, and that girls are just as capable of doing anything boys can do. When it comes to love and respect, I honestly believe that if you sow it, they will show it. These are and will continue to be the foundations on which good behavior and social values will be set.

Beyond those, I want to show my boys the importance of self-discovery and introspective learning. Their lives are a vibrant mix of cultural and spiritual backgrounds, and I want them to learn about them all to form the realities they see for themselves. I can already see that they’re getting exposure to different ideas that come from a support system that I trust: they sometimes go to church with my parents; they have culturally nurturing experiences with their dad; I take them to learning-focused places around the city that I think will promote self-discovery and wonder. Their development won’t be limited to one channel, and I love that. They will hear, see and experience various paradigms in their lives, and my hope is that they will take all of them and look inward to find what resonates within them as individuals.

Love, respect and self-discovery. With these values at the core of their development, I know I will be proud of my boys as they morph into strong men who have a keen sense of self. It is up to me to ensure that the various individuals in their support system and I nurture these principles in their lives every moment.

Because I’ll never know who will be people-watching them someday.

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