The Magic 3 Words


What three words would you want to leave to your children?

This past summer, I was chatting parenting skills with a cousin of mine. She mentioned how each morning, they do words of affirmation. It’s become so routine for her three-year-old that he uses them without being prompted. He is his own hype man in times of trouble. When he needs some encouragement, you can hear this little man cheering himself on with words like, “I am Brave, I am Strong, I am Smart.”

So I thought, what three words, phrases, or meaning in life matters most to me? When it’s all said and done, what will make me most proud of my children?

Each morning before school, we’ve taken on my cousin’s mantra with some edits.  

Both children are well aware of the rote words we say, and like any elementary-age child, they’ve created hand motions for them.  

I am Strong.
I am Smart.
I am Helpful.

Strength is where my son’s brain lies. He wants to be the strongest man in the world, and at times, he believes he is. He is strong enough to do hard things, control hard emotions, and make the right decisions. These words bring him the power and confidence needed to swim through the shark-infested waters of childhood.

My kids will know they are smart regardless of a flawed system or a bully. Grades are important but will not define my children, God willing. Adulthood has taught me that intelligence is much more than a report card, so as they repeat these words and grow, so will the meaning. Our home will give the tools needed to be smart when it comes to math, science, and history but will not neglect the emotional intelligence that is so desperately needed in our times.

The most important key phrase that matters to this mother is that my children are helpful. When my training comes to an end, and the children are off on their own, making their own decisions, being strong and smart are necessary, but being helpful defines the character of the soul. Life is more than the selfishness that comes so naturally to us all. Giving back in acts of services may be a dying art that I want to be an instilled foundation in my children. May they love and help others from now until the end.

As we drop off and pick up, ask, “what have you done to be helpful today?” You may hear some encouraging stories that make those mom fail moments feel like you’ve just won the Nobel Prize of parenting. 

Don’t forget, you too, mom, are strong, smart, and helpful. What have you done to model these truths to our little ones?