My father was a tall man, and now he stood up. "My friend," he said, "I do not know what else I shall leave my son, but if I have left him a love of language, of literature, a taste for Homer, for the poets, the people who have told our story - and by 'our' I mean the story of mankind - then he will have legacy enough."
Quote from: The Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour
I will never forget a family get-together we had at my sister's house a couple of years ago. I have three siblings, all older than myself, with my sister being the oldest. We were all there. Parents included. Our conversation turned to books. As we talked about some of our favorite books I happened to glance over at my father. He was beaming. I could tell that he was reveling in the fact that his children were well read, educated, and actually having a meaningful discussion about books. His pride was apparent. And as a parent, I can see why. If there is one thing I want for my kids, it is for them to be humble followers of Christ. But if there is another thing I could ask for, it is for them to be thoughtful intellects. For in the grand scheme of things, there are only a few things we can keep when we leave this earth; our faith and the intelligence we've obtained are two of them. Joseph Smith taught, "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come." So our efforts to help our children gain an education through their own diligence are not wasted. In fact, there are few endeavors more worthwhile. Why delegate that responsibility to those who are not nearly so vested in your children's progression? We lead by example. That is the basis of a legacy. Something that is upheld by one generation and passed on to the next. Like a love of learning. I can remember countless times seeing my father reading, or challenging his knowledge with crossword puzzles. We all knew him to be a learned man.
A common phrase I hear people say is, "I want to provide a better life for my children than I had." While this is a noble idea, the practice has resulted in cluttering children's lives with useless, yet expensive junk and spending too much time at work. Spoiling a child will not make their life better than yours. How did you become a decent person yourself? By struggling, by failing, by never quitting. You have to give your children opportunities to fail at things. Encourage them to keep trying, but don't hand them everything on a silver platter. The only thing they will gain from that is a sense of entitlement. We see that everywhere these days. That, I'm sure, is not the legacy we hope to leave our children. I hope that one day I can sit like my father, in a room full of family, educated, every one of them by their own means, and listen to them discuss good literature. That will be "legacy enough."