My oldest son just graduated from high school. Do you know what that means?
It means I’m old!
It also means that I’ve been at this mothering game for quite a long time. And that means I’ve made lots and lots of mistakes over the years. I could write an entire book on all my parenting failures. Seriously.
It almost makes me laugh when someone asks me how we turned out such great kids. I desperately want to yell that it’s all an illusion! I’m tempted to tell them about the argument on the way out the door that morning or the bedroom that’s such a mess it’s probably a fire hazard.
But I bite my tongue instead.
The fact is, we really do have some incredible kids. So, I’m pretty sure we did at least a couple things right along the way.
I’m also pretty sure our countless mistakes have been fully covered by God’s grace. I’m very sure of it! Even with all our good intentions, I know God’s grace is the only true explanation for the blessings we see in our children.
Because I have the benefit of standing closer to the finish line than some of you, I thought I might share a few of the things I’m glad we did when it came to raising our kids.
Six Important Lessons to Teach Your Kids
Always ask permission.
Our kids learned from a young age that they needed to ask permission for most things. Whether it was something small like being offered a cookie, or something big like being invited for a sleepover, they had to ask first. This saved us lots of trouble over the years.
It also kept us, as parents, from being upset when a well-meaning adult offered a treat or privilege to our children before checking with us. We trusted that our kids wouldn’t accept without first seeking us out, and the kids knew that every invitation or offer was contingent upon our approval.
Kids know exactly how to get what they want. Unfortunately, they often learn from us that begging and nagging are effective tactics. When my kids asked the same thing over and over, or whined when they weren’t given their way, I intentionally had to stick to my guns.
As the kids grew old enough to understand, I would explain to them that even if I wanted to change my mind, I couldn’t because it was against our rules. They weren’t allowed to beg, and I wasn’t allowed to give in when they did.
Dad has the final say.
I deal with most requests and problems that come up in the day all by myself, but, sometimes, the issues of the moment are a bit above my pay grade. My kids know their father has the final say in our home. I know it, too.
When making a request, they’ve come to expect my standard response to be, “Let me talk to Dad about it first.” And once Dad gives his opinion on the matter, we all know it’s settled. This spares me from carrying the daily burdens entirely by myself, and it also keeps me from making an emotional or foolish decision.
Kids should be able to interact comfortably with adults, but they also should have a healthy understanding of the fact that they do not share equal status with grown-ups.
Our kids were required to use titles of respect (Mr., Mrs., Miss, etc.) when speaking to or about most adults in their lives. They also were taught to give preference to adults when it came to things like giving up their seat, listening when they were talking, and not interrupting a grown-up conversation.
Life isn’t always fair.
We have never done everything evenly in our family. If we saw a special toy on sale that would be appropriate for one of our children, we weren’t afraid to buy the spontaneous gift for one child while the others went without. It would likely be one of the empty-handed kid’s turn the next time.
We never purposely sought to deprive any one of our kids, but we always made it clear that we had the freedom to give prizes or privileges at our own discretion. Now that they’re older, their activities take varying amounts of time, their Christmas gifts cost different amounts of money, their privileges are based on what we feel is best for them individually.
Family time holds a high priority in our home. We get ice cream together, watch movies together, go shopping together. Even now, it isn’t unusual for one of our teens to give up going out with friends in favor of hanging out with the family.
I’ve not necessarily done a good job of planning special events for our family, but I’ve always tried to build excitement about our time together. And, while every day isn’t a party around here, I do keep my eye out for movies or activities we can enjoy together. Although, some of our favorite family times are those spent in the back yard, playing charades or reliving fun memories.
What are some of the lessons you’re glad you’ve taught your kids?