The death of George HW Bush has caused me to reflect on what really matters to my children and others at the end of life. As I was watching the eulogy given by his son George W Bush, I made a mental note of what actually mattered to George W at the end of his father’s life and what things had made him a better, well-adjusted adult.  

His father played games with them, had fun with them, had family dinners with them, and showed them integrity and love for others. But the thing that seemed to leave the biggest impression on George W was that he loved their mother fiercely.  

Perhaps it was because George HW lost a child, that his family values were so on point.  

In the eulogy, George W didn’t mention once that his parents made sure he had organic food his whole life, or had Pinterest worthy birthday parties, or the perfect monogrammed matching outfits with his siblings. He didn’t mention that his parents made sure their week was planned with playdates and millions of extracurricular activities. He reflected over and over again about how much his dad loved and was dedicated to his mother. 

I worry that we get so caught up in the minor things that we forget the major thing which is teaching our kids what unconditional love and loyalty looks like.  

As a counselor, I see so many marriages falling apart and so much strife and discontentment in life occurring because so much time and attention is spent on the minor things. The results of this are broken marriages, discontentment, lack of self-esteem, anger, addiction, depression, anxiety, and in some cases suicide. All of the resources given to the minor things in turn cause the major things to fall apart.  

Feeling secure in a family will have more of a long term effect on the well-being of a person than any of the minor stuff so much of our time and effort is spent on. We say our value is family, but our actions show something completely different. 

George HW lived to be 94 and evidently couldn’t stomach a vegetable, yet how much of our time is spent on worrying about what we put into our child’s stomach.  

My intent isn’t to say that being cognizant of health and physical well-being isn’t important. My intent is to say that it isn’t the most important thing.  

Fight for your family. Nurture your relationship with your spouse. Don’t treat your children like your world revolves around them. You might feel pressure or guilt when other people tell you all the wonderful things they are feeding their kids, or feel like less of a parent when you see another Pinterest perfect party, but don’t buy into it. It’s just a distraction from what really matters.  

Don’t make the minor stuff the major stuff.  Have fun, play games, have family dinner, be kind, do good in your community when you have opportunity, show integrity when no one is watching, and love your spouse fiercely. Fight for your family. At the end of your life this is what will matter to your children. 

This article was originally posted on Refuge.Church

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Karen Culbertson

Wife, mom and licensed mental health counselor.