Tag Archives: Gregg Harris

Monday Morning Moment – Teach Your Children Well…12 Essential Lessons of Life

Photo Credit: Pixabay

[Adapted from the Archives]

Parenting is a job…almost a vocation. Feeding, clothing, and protecting children are all crucial…but what do we teach them? What are the essential lessons of life?

Two old songs come to mind when I think of the serious nature of teaching our children what they must learn for life. The old folk/rock group Crosby, Stills, and Nash & Young wrote and performed Teach Your Children. Graham Nash wrote the lyrics out of his painful relationship with an absent, sometimes imprisoned, father. Nash’s message is that we have to teach our children to make a better life…if not better world.

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught is the other deeply emotional song out of the musical South Pacific. This song points to racial prejudice and cultural bias, and how hatred must be taught to children when they are young. Mandy Patinkin‘s version of this song communicates its meaning powerfully.

Although hatred or bias can be taught, even from an early age, such dreadful things can also be caught over time in culture. Things like entitlement, dishonesty, greed, and irresponsibility. We as parents (teachers and employers) have a huge role in guiding children and young people to mature into caring and responsible adults…even in a culture that may cut across the grain of our own values.

I’d like to explore what we must teach our children. Intentionally, with meaningful purpose. Catching those teachable moments and seasons. Some things are more “caught than taught”, as the saying goes. Kids will catch some values living in close proximity to us and others. That makes the case, as well, for how we choose to live and what companions we seek for ourselves and our children.

More Is Caught Than Taught – Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni

When our children were young, we taught them a set of rules which we honored in our home. The 21 Rules of This House by Gregg and Joshua Harris. These rules were, in ways, simplistic but also comprehensive enough to help us create a safe, orderly, and loving home, where children AND parents had the same expectations. Photo Credit: Choosing HomeSchool Curriculum

Our children are grown now, out on their own. Two of them are already in the season of small ones and will establish their own essentials for teaching their children.

This is a reminder to them of their own family values…I hope it’s also a help to you. These are 12 lessons of life. They are not comprehensive, and you may not agree with all of them. I would love to hear what you think should have been there as well, in the Comments section below. Thanks.

1) Love God – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” – Jesus – Matthew 22:37-38 If you are reading this and don’t share a faith in one God, then this won’t have meaning for you. Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandments of the law (in that day, they were burdened by the weight of over 600 laws). His answer? Love God with everything in your being.  Parents can model and teach this kind of love from the time children are tiny.

2) Love others – You shall love your neighbor as yourself.– Jesus – Matthew 22:39  Jesus didn’t stop at the greatest commandment. He added this one as just second to the most important. Love others. Not just your buddies. Not just those like you…but whomever neighbor is…the nobody, the every man. Jesus was clear in his instruction in “as yourself”. However it is we would serve ourselves, we give of ourselves to those around us. Wow! Great wisdom to teach our children.

[Jesus even went further in his teaching on loving others. Before his crucifixion, he encouraged his disciples to love others even as He loved them – a love that lays down its own life for others (John 13:34).]

3) Be obedient (honoring) – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” – Ephesians 6:1-3 What a struggle it is for us to teach our children to obey! What a developmental milestone when they get it! Not after we count to 3, or 10…or whatever other enticement to obey comes to mind. Immediate obedience – in attitude and action.

Raising our children in huge cities made it crucial for them to obey the instant they heard us speak to them, especially over the noise of the city. One thing we did was a bird call (a whistle sounding “bob, bobwhite”. When they heard they looked up and started heading in our direction immediately. I still marvel when even today, that will still get their big grown-up attention.

More on obedience can be found here.

Photo Credit: Flickr

4) Be grateful. – Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18  God’s Word is filled with examples and encouragements toward being grateful (here are just a few). Jesus’ life was a testament of thankfulness to God the Father, and He taught us to pray with thanksgiving. Our kids grew up with The Thankful Song (from the Veggie Tales Madame Blueberry video) – “A grateful heart is a happy heart; that’s why we say thanks everyday.”

The Power of Gratitude – 21 Verses of Thanks to God – Debbie McDaniel

Avoid Raising an Entitled Child – 5 Strategies That Really Work – Amy McCready

5) Speak the truth. – Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. – Proverbs 12:22 The worst offense in our home was lying. Jesus spoke of Satan as being the father of lies (John 8:44). Telling the truth is something we model and something, I hope, our children value highly in their adult lives. No spin, no deception…straight-up truth. Truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

6) Work with diligence and excellence. – Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.Colossians 3:23   In grasping this lesson, children learn perseverance, patience, and an understanding of the value of work. Our youngest struggled with academics and he would say, about homework, “I just want to get it done!” As he matured, he moved his lament to more of a charge of “get it done and done well”. Watching him grow in that continues to make us so proud of him.

12 Ways to Glorify God at Work – Jose Etter

7) Seek joy. – Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persistent in prayer. – (Romans 12:12) Grumbling, discontent, and whining are such a part of human nature. When we count our situation joy, whatever it is, everyone wins. Other verses here.

8) Seek peace. – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:9) Sometimes we crave peace, and we’ll do anything to get it. Our children don’t need to learn how to be peace-keepers but to be peace-makers. It’s not about giving way to the one causing trouble, for instance. It’s developing relational skills to bring peace to a situation, resolving the conflict. More verses here on peace.

9) Be forgiving. – Bear with each other and forgive any complaint you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.Colossians 3:13 Holding grudges and distancing ourselves from others in un-forgiveness is no way to live. Forgiving because we are forgiven carries with it a deep loving perspective. Helping our children understand how to forgive, especially little ones who have been gravely hurt by others, is huge. More on forgiveness.

10) See beauty; create beauty. – He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 My children tease me sometimes because they say I think everyone out there is handsome/pretty. God has given me eyes to see, maybe as He sees. He creates beauty and He means for us to see and appreciate it…and create beautiful things ourselves.Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

Our children are all musicians (one professionally) or writers . They create beauty as we all can…in some way or another.

Nathan Mills -Beyond The Guitar

Top 10 Bible Verses about Art with Commentary

Saying Beautifully as a Way of Seeing Beauty – John Piper

11) Be kind. – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32) Again, years ago, when our kids were very young, they participated in a Vacation Bible School and learned a little song on kindness. “K-I-N-D, Love Is Kind”. I couldn’t find it anywhere for today’s blog, but the message stuck in all our heads. One of the simplest ways to show love is to be kind – to be generous and caring in our consideration of others. The Scripture points often to kindness in loving each other.

Be Kind to One Another – John Piper

12) Serve others. – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.Hebrews 13:16 This lesson of serving others is one I actually struggled to teach well. I fell into the excuse (like many in America do) that they had so much homework, so many assignments to complete, that they should just have fun when they had the time. Serving could have totally been a “fun” way of life. I hope our children do better with teaching serving than I did. More on serving here.Photo Credit: Niagara

In closing, I’ve left off many things. Critical thinking is one. Modesty and physical purity are others. In fact, do you remember that little song, “Be Careful Little Eyes What You See.”? Our kids learned that in English and Arabic.

Still probably the greatest lesson across the years of childhood (which goes along with the two greatest commandments Jesus taught) is the one Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, taught us.

Let (your) heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.

We want to teach our children to do right, for for the sake of others and for themselves, and to stand up for what is right.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.Proverbs 22:6

Let Your Heart Be Broken – Jeremiah 8, 9 – Rick Ezell

Bible Verses on Injustice

Parenting – the Way We Did It and the Way the French Do It – Bringing Up Bébé

Blog - Parenting 1

Years before marriage and parenting, I had a life-altering experience of children that stayed with me all this time. A college friend, Marc, invited me out with his brother’s family. We went out to dinner at a nice (i.e. adult) restaurant. Since the children were small – preschool and elementary-aged – I wasn’t at all sure how the evening would go. They were captivating. Not because it was all about them. On the contrary. They enjoyed the conversation around the table as much as I did. Their ability to engage with the adults, to ask questions and listen, to offer their own amusing stories to the mix of talk was well beyond what I thought possible at their age. They gave me hope.

Parenting did not come naturally to me. I had a wonderful mom. There was no one like her. She had to work as we grew up and then had to take care of all that home management stuff on the weekends. With what time she had left, she mothered us very well. I just never knew how she did it. It was a complete mystery to me.

Our children came (2 biologically and our last by way of adoption) during the strong restart of home schooling in the US (late 80s and early 90s). With home schooling came a much more interventional parenting style. We were enthralled with the idea of keeping our children home with us to do and learn about life together. Through all their schooling years, with many of them living overseas, there were only a few when we actually home schooled, but I loved it…loved that time of discovery, and wonder, and endured the occasional exasperation at our struggle to master one subject or another.

Our parenting during those early years had a home schooling imprint on it. We even followed the 21 Rules of This House originated by a leading home school parent Gregg Harris.

The 21 Rules Of This House
by Gregg Harris

1. We obey God.
2. We love, honor and pray for one another.
3. We tell the truth.
4. We consider one another’s interests ahead of our own.
5. We speak quietly and respectfully with one another.
6. We do not hurt one another with unkind words or deeds.
7. When someone needs correction, we correct him in love.
8. When someone is sorry, we forgive him.
9. When someone is sad, we comfort him.
10. When someone is happy, we rejoice with him.
11. When we have something nice to share, we share it.
12. When we have work to do, we do it without complaining.
13. We take good care of everything that God has given us.
14. We do not create unnecessary work for others.
15. When we open something, we close it.
16. When we take something out, we put it away.
17. When we turn something on, we turn it off.
18. When we make a mess, we clean it up.
19. When we do not know what to do, we ask.
20. When we go out, we act just as if we were in this house.
21. When we disobey or forget any of the 21 Rules of This House, we accept the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

This set of rules helped me parent. One thing I really appreciated was that the rules were not just for the children but for all our family. No double-standard. These rules didn’t mean we were defined by “Do’s & Don’t’s”. They just helped me not to be all over the place. I also had great parenting mentors and practical, loving friends (see Balcony People) who encouraged me through the challenges of growing up kids. I didn’t need help with the joys.

Blog - ParentingBlog - Parenting in EgyptMy friend, Marc, & our first-born.     Our three at play in Cairo, Egypt.

Our kids and their mom and dad grew up together. We learned how to parent with them, and they learned how to grow into each age.Blog - Parenting 2

 As the saying goes, they grew too fast. As much as I love them as adults, I miss those years together more than I can say.Blog - Parenting 3

Now our first-born daughter has her own first-born. She isn’t using The 21 Rules of This House although she values its impact on her own life. She has been reading Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé – a book on French parenting by an American who spent her new parent years in Paris. Her book chronicles those years as she observed French families, babies and parents. Her experience of these children reflected mine long ago with Marc’s nieces and nephews.

Through the years and in our travels, we’ve experienced different cultures of parenting, and what I’ve read in Bringing Up Bébé is definitely counsel to be considered. The author and mom ends her humorous story with 100 Keys to French Parenting. My favorite 15 are below:

15 of the 100 Keys to French Parenting

#10 – Give Your Baby a House Tour – orient your newborn to where they will call home.

#11 – Observe Your Baby – Get to really know your baby. Watch her.

#12 – Tell Your Baby the Truth – Help him know that he can always believe what you tell him. It builds trust and confidence even in wee ones.

#20 – Do “The Pause” – The French don’t let their newborns “cry it out”, but they do pause before rescuing baby from nighttime crying. The goal is to help the baby learn how to settle back down herself.

#32 – Everyone Eats the Same Thing – There is no such thing as “kid” foods on the every-day French table. They learn to eat and appreciate “adult” food.

#35 – You Choose the Foods, She Chooses the Quantities – No food battles. Children take a bite of what is put on the plate. They don’t have to finish it.

#41 – Dinner Shouldn’t Involve Hand-to-Hand Combat – When they’re done, they’re done. Release them from the table when they’re finished eating.

#46 – Teach the Four magic Words – Please. Thank You. Hello. Goodbye. – Learning from an early age to be courteous and empathetic to others.

#50 – Back Off at the Playground – Children are given freedom to play without adults hovering. Safety assured, but exploration encouraged.

#53 – Give Kids Lots of Chances to Practice Waiting – Teaching delayed gratification.

#60 – View Coping with Frustration as a Crucial Life Skill

#63 – Give Kids Meaningful Chores – This folds right into the teaching of my favorite book on adolescence (Escaping The Endless Adolescence).

#89 – Make Evenings Adult Time – As parents carve out time for their own relationships, they teach children to value the importance as well.

#91 – Say “No” with Conviction – When parents say “No”, they need to mean it.

#92 – Say “Yes” as Often as You Can – Saving the “No’s” for when they matter most.

I would love to hear about your parenting years with your kiddos. What helped you? Anything you would do differently? Would love to dialogue on this topic…just for fun. We as parents should lavish grace on each other; parenting is a big job…

And then they were grown…

Blog - Parenting 4

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting)

Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bébé

Home Schooling Goes Mainstream

Bringing Up Bebe? No Thanks. I’d Rather Raise a Billionaire

Uncommon Courtesy – Blog – Recommended Reading