Back to school essentials

October 3, 2010

The Essentials

As a child, each summer as the new school year loomed large, we would pull out the JC Penny catalog and shop for new clothes. I had a pretty big family, so in addition to hand-me downs from my older brother I got to pick two new shirts and two pair of pants from the big book.

When I was younger the new clothes were cool. Anything new, no matter what, was a real treat. But by the time I reached junior high I recognized that the shirts from Penny’s didn’t have alligators on them, and the jeans didn’t have a little orange tag on the pocket. Brands started to matter to me. But not to my parents. Money was always short, so we “got by” on the essentials. I don’t ever remember my parents splurging, not once. But the essentials of food clothing and shelter were there when we needed them.

So before you start splurging on your kids, think about the essentials. We hardly ever use the word splurge anymore do we? Many things we once thought of as extravagances we now consider essential, but are they? Food clothing and shelter we sometimes take for granted, but I have a short list of real essentials that your child needs to thrive in today’s school, or in today’s world for that matter.

Your child needs to hear you say “I love you.” to them every day. They don’t care so much about what the world thinks of them. They want to know that you love them. Zack and Cody’s life won’t seem nearly as sweet (suite?) as theirs if they know how much you love them.

Your child needs to hear you say “I love you” to the other parent in the house as well. I know this is not always possible. Dad or mom might not live with you. But if they do, let your kids know you are crazy about him, or her.

Your child needs you to pray with her every day. He needs to know that you think spiritual things are important. If it’s not important to you, it she will see it as not important.

Your child needs to know that there is a thing called Truth, and where to find it. Read a small portion of the Bible with your child, every day if possible. It doesn’t have to be more than a verse or two. Then spend just one or two minutes talking about it with them. Spend two more minutes at the stop light. And two more in the grocery store. And two more, when you tuck him in to bed. Talk about Truth every opportunity you have. Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are good

Your child needs to know that you care about making wise choices. She needs to understand early in life about choices and consequences. Wise choices almost always reap rewards and unwise choices always have bad consequences. Don’t shelter your child from this important truth. Look what happened to Paris and Lindsey because they had no one to teach them this important lesson.

Let him know he can’t be the best at everything but she can do her best at every thing. Kids don’t need a bumper sticker to tell them that they are the best seven-year-old, left-footed, blue-eyed, Irish soccer-ball kicker on the north side of your street. He just needs help developing a good work ethic.

Your child needs to know that God loves him/her.

If your kids are covered by these fundamental truths, they will be much less concerned about the superhero on their shirt or the explorer on their backpack.

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