Important things.

August 1, 2011

What are the most important things I’ve learned along the way about family?

Let me start off by saying I know the title of this post is pretentious. Especially coming from someone with no children. But I was a child once. (Some say I still am.) I am an observer and student of the family, and I am part of at least one family. That being said, there’s really no reason for you to think that my list is any more valid, meaningful or important than your list. So as I make my list, I simply hope it prompts you to make one of your own. That is really the point of this post: to spend some time thinking about the most important thing in our lives. (Assuming we have a relationship with God.) If my thoughts prompt yours, great, I have succeeded. If not, that’s okay too, because I have at least spent time thinking about important things.
So here are a few things I’ve learned from observing families at work and play. During good and not so good times. I am not trying to sound bossy or harsh. (I haven’t learned that one yet.) But these things absolutely will help you have: 1) a better marriage, 2) better kids, 3) better relationships.
Nothing is more important than my relationship with God, and my ability, willingness, and discipline to help my children develop a relationship with God. This one item supersedes, informs and forms my list.
In almost no particular order:

Always, always, always take your spouse’s side in public. Especially in front of your own kids. If you disagree, and you will, do so in private. If you can disagree in love maybe you would be exempt from this, but I haven’t seen it modeled by anyone. If your wife is reprimanding your child, back here to the max. If your husband is speaking for or against a course of action with your kids, agree with him. You have enough alone time, disagree then. Your children need to know that you are a strong united front, for them, and occasionally against them.

The best way to teach your kids to be disrespectful (or respectful) is to model it; live it; believe it. Demand that your children respect your spouse, and have swift, harsh consequences for disrespectful behavior. Teach your kids that it is OK to disagree, but not to get disagreeable in the process. You wouldn’t think of allowing some (explicative deleted) to call your wife names or make crude comments as you walk down the road, neither should you allow your children to get away with it.

• Treat others including your spouse and children, (especially your spouse and children) the way you would want to be treated. You are of infinite worth – do not believe anyone who says otherwise. So is your husband. So is your wife. So are your children.

• Teach your daughter that if a guy gets grabby to tell him to get lost. She does not have to be objectified to find friends or happiness. A guy who is trying to get all over your daughter is concerned about his own happiness not hers. Remind her often, “Don’t let anyone disrespect you.”

Teach your sons to be gentlemen. Personally, I think that includes opening doors, but it is so much more than just that. Show him #4 above and let him know in no uncertain terms that he had better show the proper respect to the girls and women in his life.

Teach your kids modesty and humility in their dress as well as their actions. Don’t dress to draw attention to your body or parts of your body. Do act in a way to draw attention to yourself unless you are a professional athlete.

• Teach your kids to be honest. This is just plain important. If this list was in order of importance, honesty would be high on the list.

Teach your kids to be polite. Nothing will make a good positive impression better or faster than good manners. And nothing will be more detrimental to jobs, education and relationships than rudeness.

Teach your kids to help out. Developing a good work ethic begins at home. Small chores for small kids, more and larger chores for older kids. Pay them if you want, but make sure they understand that being a part of the family means helping out.

Be affectionate in front of your kids, and with your kids. Kids will learn healthy physical habits by watching you and your spouse. Just as important, they will feel valued when you touch them affectionately.

Tell the people you love that you love them. Often. Out loud. In public and private.

So, how do you (or would you) teach these things? Or would your list be totally different? What items are on your list?

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