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Eight Things

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Eight Things

Eight Things Your Kids Need to Know are True of You

by Matthew Sullivan, Director of Campus Life

Our kids want to know us, warts and all. And guess what? They WILL get to know us over time. They are super-observant and very smart. As they grow up in our homes, here are eight very important things that your children need to know about you. And, unfortunately, they’re things that you just can’t fake.

  1. That you can have an argument, and it’s not the end of the world

In families, there will be arguments. That is a fact of life. I grew up in a home where the parental arguments were all held behind closed doors, where we kids weren’t able to watch our parents really hash things out. Once I got engaged, my fiancée and I had lots of different things to discuss and decide — and disagree on. It was a true wake-up call for me, as I was a conflict-avoider extraordinaire. My wife comes from a family where she is the eldest of six children, and in that very busy household, arguments broke out “in the open” all the time. She learned how to have a fight, how to fight fairly, and how to come to reconciliation.  Andrea came into our marriage much better equipped to face disagreements in healthy ways. I have learned so much from her (most often losing arguments to her), and we are trying hard to pass these skills along to our kids. Children need to know it’s okay to disagree, and they need to see models of healthy disagreement.

  1. That you are comfortable in your own skin

Okay, so you’re not Usain Bolt, nor Thor, nor Kelly Pickler nor Angelina Jolie. But you can have fun running around in your nerdy shoes, you can make a prediction about the next Avengers movie, you dance around the house like no one’s watching, and passionately advocate for a cause, in your own voice. In your kids’ eyes, you are already a superhero, and they need to watch you live life in your inadequacies and deficits. They will grow when they see the “work in progress” that you are. If you are an open book with your personality, likes, dislikes, strengths, and limitations, this will serve your kids going forward. They will continue growing toward realistic wholeness with parents who are simply – themselves.

  1. That you value laughter

E.E. Cummings wrote that “a day without laughter is a day wasted.” Your children are entering a world that is filled with brokenness, pain, and injustice. A good sense of humor is something that is cultivated over time — in your presence. The more your kids see you laugh, even at the annoying things of everyday life, the more equipped they will be to approach each day looking for the joy that it holds. They will also see that there is much humor in appropriate subject matter and that jokes and laughs don’t have to be related to crude material nor, be at someone else’s expense.

  1. That you have other adults in your life who help keep you on the path

Life is hard, and God has given us the tremendous gift of Christian community to help us walk with Him through it. Your child will most likely walk away from this kind of community if you have disconnected yourself. They are watching how you relate to other Christian men and women and will use this information to set a standard for themselves moving forward. You know this to be true: You can’t do “Lone Ranger” Christianity. And your kid will have missed out on this gift of community unless they see you practicing “iron sharpening iron” with Christian peers, mentors, and mentees.

  1. That you appreciate the blessings of this life

Thankfulness is one of the hallmarks of fruitful Christian parenting. Melody Beattie once said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” In an age and culture of entitlement, children need daily reinforcement that life is a gift, and it has been literally STUFFED with blessings from our Creator. Stopping now and then to express your sense of gratitude, whether it be just saying, “Isn’t this the BEST?!?” or bowing for a moment of prayerful thanksgiving, shapes young hearts and minds toward a lifestyle of humility and grace.

  1. That you are not afraid of – and perhaps even like – hard work

“Work” can often sound like a bad word in our society. There is such a high value on ease and leisure that our kids struggle to see models of wholesome work in the world. Even though after the fall, Adam and Eve made to toil as they worked the ground, the concept of work is part of the blessing of Eden. Our first parents were told to “work the garden,” and it was good!

As my oldest was getting closer to finishing high school, our family engaged in a full-on backyard renovation for his graduation party. This meant all hands on deck! We did it all ourselves; we tore up shrubs, dug up grass, laid down gravel, planted new foliage. We sweat it out together under the deadline of the party, and it bonded us together. Let your kids see into your work; let them see the sweat of your brow and the joy in the reward of a job well done. This will help carry them through the hard times they will inevitably encounter.

  1. That once you’ve extended forgiveness to them, you don’t hold it against them any longer

If you have forgiven your child, and they bring up their transgression again, you have one of those golden “Gospel moments” to show them a glimpse of our forgiveness in Christ. Historically, the Church has fallen into a system of “works righteousness” where we need to continue to be good enough to be worthy of God’s love. But His love isn’t like that. Is He keeping a list?? No! And neither should you in your relationships, especially with your kids. It can be fun, when talking with your kids, to surprise them that you’ve forgotten the bad thing they’ve done. You’ve forgiven it, and, more importantly, so has their heavenly Father.

  1. That your kid/kids are the most precious thing to you in the entire world

You cannot speak this enough. You cannot show this enough. A child needs the constant reminding that she means the world to her parents. No pressure, but Moms and Dads are the primary fount of their child’s self-esteem. Go to every game. Chaperone that field trip. Take the vacation together. Soak on the couch watching his favorite show. Make her favorite dessert. Look into his eyes daily and say “I love you.” When your kid knows this, she can step out into the world in strength.