Welcome, friends! Here we are on the last Wednesday in February. It seems like the first two months of 2021 have flown by. I’ve mentioned that our younger daughter is a high school senior. I feel like the next three months until she graduates are going to go by even faster.
With her, all the “lasts” are the actual “lasts.” With our older daughter, I knew I’d get to do most of the things again with our younger daughter. I think it’s going to take some getting used to, my husband and I not planning our calendar around school or extracurricular activities. But I’m also excited about what this next season of life will look like!
As we finish up this month talking about our homes and families, I thought we could look into some of the lessons we want to teach our children before they leave our homes. I’m at one end of that spectrum, but you may be at the other! Perhaps you still have young children at home, and, Lord willing, a number of years to shepherd them before they leave.
I’ll go ahead and let you know that the first two lessons on the list are directly from my dad. He and my mom taught us four children many valuable lessons, but these are two of the ones I remember the most.
1. Life’s not fair.
I recently got to share this lesson with a six-year-old in the children’s ministry I work at in our church on Wednesday nights. She complained that it wasn’t fair that she hadn’t yet gotten a turn to be the line leader. She loudly proclaimed to me and some of the other kids that “it’s not fair!” I don’t think my little talk about how life’s not fair impressed her very much, but maybe more stuck with her than I think! 🙂
Solomon has an interesting take on this in Ecclesiastes 9:11. “I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.“
We’re not to go around with a defeatist attitude or channeling our inner pessimist. We work hard and we do our best. But our children need to know that life’s not always fair. You’re going to get a bad call in a game. The part you want in the school play goes to someone else when you feel you were just as good. (That’s one from my own life experience.) The job promotion you believe you deserved goes to your co-worker.
Regardless of the situation, there will be times when life doesn’t seem fair…because it isn’t. And if we can help our children understand that fact ahead of time, they can hopefully be more prepared to deal with it.
2. Attitude is everything.
The earlier we learn this lesson, the happier we will be. We control very little in our lives, but our attitude we control 100%.
Every day we get to decide. Will we be grateful or discontent? Are we going to give that task we hate our best effort or just skim by? Do we sulk or pout when our feelings get hurt?
We also need to help our children see that the attitude we choose doesn’t just affect us. It affects others around us. Their day can be better or worse depending on the attitude we display.
It reminds me of Colossians 3:23. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” The work that we do and the attitude with which we do it should be a testimony to others that we’re seeking to serve the Lord.
3. It’s not all about me.
Goodness don’t we all know someone who’s self-centered? Children can naturally focus on having their needs and wants met. What a blessing if we can help them learn early on that they will have more joy and contentment if they put others first.
This covers a lot of ground – learning to share, taking turns, getting along with siblings. Just being part of a family and responsible for certain chores helps our kids learn that other people are important and the world doesn’t revolve around them.
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” ~Romans 12:10
4. Work is good for you.
This can be a hard one because honestly, it’s often easier as a parent to just do the work yourself rather than battle with getting your child to do it – or making them do it over when it’s not done right the first time.
One of our girls was fairly self-motivated. She understood that if she’d jump in and get her work done, she could move on. The other one was more motivated to work if I worked alongside her. Regardless, we want them to know the feeling of completing a job and doing it well.
The fight against entitlement is real. We don’t want children who feel entitled to things just because they breathe air or live in our house. They don’t need everything handed to them. A good work ethic will take them a long way in life.
“In all labor there is profit, but the talk of the lips tendeth only to poverty.” ~Proverbs 14:23
5. Honesty is the only policy.
Not just when it’s convenient, but always tell the truth.
Do all children lie? Maybe not, but both of ours did at some point. Sometimes when they’re really young it’s almost funny because it’s so obvious. But there have been other times when I believe the Lord has revealed to us in some different ways that they weren’t telling the truth. And that’s a blessing! We want them to get caught when they’re dishonest so that we can deal with the issue.
Honesty’s always been a big deal in our home because without it, there’s no foundation for trust. If our girls do something wrong – and they will – we want them to come to us and confess it. There may still be consequences, but if we find out they lied about it – or we discover it through other sources – the consequences will likely be worse.
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but they that deal truly are His delight.” ~Proverbs 12:22
These five lessons can be good reminders for all of us. I know we haven’t done a perfect job teaching these to our girls. But I do hope the time we spent instilling truths in their lives will benefit them as they leave our home and step out on their own.