With Christmas coming, you are probably making a list and checking it twice to be sure that you have the perfect gifts for your family to open on the morning of December 25. But before you put your pen away, use it to make a second list of things to give year-round to the people who are most important to you.
Putting time and effort into choosing just the right present for someone is a great way of demonstrating how much they mean to you. However, Christmas, anniversaries, and birthdays come only once a year, and you don’t have to wait 12 months to give them something meaningful.
Here are seven gifts to give your spouse, your children, and others close to you every single day. They won’t affect your wallet and the results could be priceless.
1. The benefit of the doubt.
You sense a note of disapproval or a hint of criticism in something your spouse says. It seems that your teenage son has deliberately disregarded your rule about no dirty shoes in the house again. Don’t automatically assume the worst. Believe the best and find out more before jumping to conclusions that can unnecessarily put you in adversarial mode.
2. Your attention.
One of the best gifts you can give someone does not involve bringing a present, but being present. [Tweet This] Really focus on being with them, not with your cell phone. Also, focus on what they are saying to you. We men particularly need to recognize that there’s a difference between hearing and listening. I may be able to repeat back to Susan word for word what she told me in a conversation, but she knows whether I’m really listening or not. Here are some ideas on how to communicate better with your spouse.
3. A hand.
Of course, you pitch in to help when there’s a big need, but those little things can mean a lot too. What can you do to help lighten their load on a regular basis? If Susan is going to be driving somewhere, I make sure the car is gassed up. It’s not that she couldn’t do it herself, but that simple gesture fills her “love tank” too. So pick up the dirty clothes or replace that burned-out light bulb without having to be asked. This article on Four S’s to Show Kindness may give you some more ideas.
4. Your acceptance.
Your spouse and children need to know that you are for them. That you may not always approve of what they do, but that your love for them is not based on their actions. Let them know I love you, no matter what. You might speak this, but you will also show it in your actions and your attitude. A smile and a hug can tell someone they are safe when the world seems to have ganged up on them. Ask yourself: Do you accept your children for who they are?
5. Your affirmation.
Encouraging words are never more powerful than when they come from those we love. Don’t just assume they know you appreciate and support them: Vocalize it. Tell your wife how you admire the way she models integrity and faith in all she does. Speak appreciatively to your husband of his work ethic and diligence. Validation is vital in filling the 4 chambers of your husband’s heart. Remark to your children about how proud you are of them. You may want to memorize these six short sentences your child needs to hear you say.
6. Your best.
Too often those that matter most to us get the least of us. We can be so busy running around meeting our obligations that by the time we come home, there’s not a lot of energy left for what truly matters. We end up running on fumes rather than fueling our most important relationships. Give them your freshest and best, not your leftovers. Make a point of reserving space for your family. Schedule a family dinner or a date with your wife on your calendar. Keep that commitment.
7. Your wisdom.
This gift needs to be offered carefully, but it will be appreciated when shared at just the right time and the right way. As my children have grown, I have developed more of a coaching and mentoring role with them, being less directive and instead sharing with them from my experience. Tone of voice is important, too. Offer life lessons, rather than a lecture. Sharing your wisdom freely with your children communicates that they are important.
Which of these everyday gifts is most meaningful to you? What would you add to the list? Share your thoughts and ideas here.