Thursday, January 26, 2012

10 Things I Wish Parents Taught Their Children

When I was a kid, I never doubted that I was loved...but I understood that certain privileges came with adulthood.  Some households fed the children first to get them out of the way and allow the adults to eat...but that wasn't the case with me.  I was given a plate and told to fend for myself.  And I did.

Over the years, families have become increasingly more and more kid-centered.  We've evolved from "children should be seen and not heard" to "you are not going to speak to my Princess like that" over a few generations.  All of those Princesses are being unleashed on the world right now, by the way.

Can we all collectively go "O.M.G.!"

Frankly, I am not going to deny the fact that I'm a wee bit guilty.  I mean, I used to bring lunch for my daughter at school every Friday for years (she was in high school), and I would have brought it to my son as well except that the school put in a cafeteria and stopped the Mommy Brigade in the foyer of the school halfway through his 9th grade year.  I have bought things we didn't need (not at the level at some I've seen...but still...), paid for trips that were probably not fully desired or appreciated as they should have been, and bought cars for both of them and have paid for gas and insurance.  I did most of this because it was just what we did.  We really didn't think that much about it.

I thought that by not taking them for big vacations and buying everything that they wanted when they wanted that I was somehow exempt from the disdain that I held for others who were giving their 6th graders cell phones.  I realize that some people do that now...but it wasn't as common back in 2002 when I was rolling my eyes.
Never mind that some of these kids were extremely involved in activities and had two separate households to keep up with because the parents had divorced.  Or that I had no business whatsoever judging what other parents saw fit to do.  I don't have to answer for those kids...or those outcomes.

I thought I was holding the line. 


As my children have gotten older, I've realized that I did some things right...and some things a little less right than I'd like to admit...but I will.  And it's okay.  I'm still amazed at how incredibly awesome they both are.  Since they are both technically adults at 19 and 22...I feel like I can render a rational assessment.

Here are the ten things that are springing to mind tonight.  I'll be honest...#10 is what inspired this blogpost.  I'm sure I'll overlook something obvious and include something random...but if you read this blog from time to know that this is pretty much the way I roll. 

10. If your child is over the age of four...teach them to get up and  let an older person have their seat if an older person is standing.  (If they are under four...they should be on your lap.)

Recently, I watched three pre-teen girls take the bench at a restaurant (I was waiting for a to-go order) while their mother and grandmother both stood up. 

Excuse me? 

I was sitting there, and I was so stunned that I got up and offered the grandmother my seat.  I can only hope that the girls were paying attention...but they were probably too busy updating their Facebook timeline on their iPhone to notice.

Yeah, SEE...that whole "judging" thing comes pretty easy to me.  Mercy?  Not so much.

9. Unless you win a lawsuit (or at the dog track, heaven help us), inherit it, or invest comes from WORK.  (Theirs or yours.) 

So many parents these days want their children to have plenty of experiences growing up...from amazing trips, to camp, or mission trips.  Even churches are now scheduling white water rafting trips that cost $75 for a few hours of fun or a trip to a really good concert to try to hold the kids' interest in church.  Christmas is a massive explosion of consumer goods, cash, and gift cards.  They live in apartments in college that have all of the amenities of home...and in some cases are even newer and better than what they grew up with because it is in a "safe" location or because that's where they want to live.  Cars are purchased because "everybody" gets a new car when they turn 16, right?

Wrong.  What we are doing is setting them up for a huge disappointment when they get out of college and they have to live on what they make.  Unless, of course, you want them living in your basement or on your dime.

Don't even get me started on those that take longer than four years to finish college unless it is a specialized curriculum like engineering, nursing, or accounting...simply because the major was changed repeatedly.  My solution to this is...take some time then get yourself back in there and finish up.  Co-op?  Even better.

Our kids both went to work at age 16 because we knew it wouldn't kill them.  And it hasn't.  What it has done is made it possible for us to say "no" to something and give them the privilege of saving up for something they want.  Shockingly, they tend to take better care of what they buy with their money.

Which is as it should be.

However, if it is money that they are taking from Mom and Dad then Mom and Dad get a chance to have a "say" in how those funds are employed...and pretty much about everything.  When they pay their own way...they get to make their own decisions.  Hopefully, getting away from this "input" will be one more incentive to get them out of college and gainfully employed. 

8. If your Daddy doesn't like a boy you are dating, or if your Mama tells you that something about a friend makes her uncomfortable...that is not a suggestion for your consideration.  Move on.

I saw the movie "Courageous" the other night...and the agreement that the Dad makes with his daughter to have input into who she dates is only for her own protection...not to keep her away from "her future husband."  Puhleeze.  How much baggage do women carry around because they believed a liar, a self-centered jerk or someone unworthy of them?  Just because a young man pays attention to them does not mean he's worthy of their attention.  Dads have an amazing "idiot radar" that God gives them when they bless them with a daughter.

And just because a girl is really sweet doesn't mean that Mama doesn't know she's trouble with a capital "T".  We also know when our daughters are being "used" or if the character of the friend is highly suspect.  Word gets around.  We just don't always tell them what we know.

7. Just because you live in the house, does not mean that you are free from the responsibilities of running it.  Someone has to take out the trash, load and unload the dishwasher and mow the grass.  And that someone does not have to always be Mom and Dad. 

And no...getting a maid is really not an option for most of us.  Plus, if you don't want their roommates to lock them in the bathroom until they clean it because it is their turn (true story...but I'm not saying who...except that it wasn't me)...they may as well practice at home where it will be appreciated.  (And probably rewarded.)

6. Dream big.  Don't take the easy road. 

Many kids graduate from high school and have no idea what they want to major in when they get to college.  Others start out with a general idea, but the reality of professors who pick off freshmen for sport, time management problems, and the realization that they really do have to study a lot in certain majors...sends them scattering for alternatives.  My thoughts?  They should spend time in high school shadowing other people through internships, work, or just following successful people around for a day. 

And then when they get to the end of the road of their education...we need to tell them to think big.  Don't just consider what they are comfortable with doing...think of all alternatives.  Travel.  Serve.  Go.  Enjoy.  Before long...a mortgage, significant other, children and other obligations will make those things all but impossible.

5. Date nerds.  They will one day rule the world. 

Nerds also have less baggage, a deeper appreciation for their relationships, and a better chance of making a good living.  They also know how to work for what they get.  That will carry over into their relationship with your Precious. 

Plus, nerds generally peak late...which is good.  Often, the guy or girl who is all the rage in high school or college finds that those really were the best years of their life. 

In this way, life really is somewhat fair. 

4. God is real and it is possible to know Him.

The Bible can be confusing, people will always disappoint you, and the whole point of it all may not make sense.  Tell them to keep seeking.  He will meet them where they are.  Don't forget to pray for them.

3. For the majority of your life, you are going to have to worry about what you eat. 

You may as well not start them out eating chips, cookies, and fast food.  You're just making it harder on them later.  Better yet...get them in sports and have them join a gym when they are in high school.  It will give them an incredible head start.

2. Never take people for granted.

I think that this is pretty universal...but how many kids don't get to really know some of their relatives or their parents' friends?   I love that my friend Carrie's girls always come down and sit and listen to our conversation when I am visiting.  I like that my other-daughter, Lauren, calls me from time to time just to get my take on something. 

I love that Jill has "other-mothers" that love her.  She knows it and loves them in return.  Had she not gotten to know them...she would have missed an incredible blessing. 

1. Love.  Just love.

There is no reason for any girl to run down another girl no matter what she may or may not have done.  There is no reason for any boy to tease another boy or exclude him because he is not as cool as they think they are.  There is no reason for kids to prey on the perceived weaknesses of others. 

Sadly, they learn a lot of this by watching their parents.

The kids I've admired the most are those that never say anything unkind about others and treat everyone with value.  They don't worry where in the "pecking order" a certain person is...they are going to love that person anyway.  They aren't fake...they just believe that everyone deserves favor.

If parents taught their children only one of these things...I'd hope that it would be to love.  In would change the world.


  1. Karen...I always look to you for a bit of humor and insightfullness! You are so funny...and I am still waiting for the release of your book! Julie Bishop

  2. Always good for a chuckle or the thought "so true". Thanks for sharing. Renee

  3. Love it and agree 110 percent!!! Rock on!