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The Lessons We Really Need to Teach Our Children

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As a parent I know the difficulties of raising children.  There aren’t any written rules how to handle most situations and we fly by the seat of our pants most of the time.  Most of us don’t figure it out until our kids are adults and by then there are things you realized you should have taught them, but never did.  So here is my list of things I believe we need to teach our children.  They are lessons most of us parents forget and some our children need to be taught by us or else they will learn it later in the outside world.

  1. It is okay to be different. Children and adults spend so much time trying to be like everyone else and fit in.  It is okay to do neither.  We as parents need to step back and stop trying to help our kids fit in and be like the other kids and instead foster that which is unique in our children.  Trust me; it is okay for a boy to play with dolls and a girl to want to dig in the dirt.  So what if that isn’t the norm.  The norm after all was created by us and can be recreated by us.  I don’t know about you, but fostering my child to be authentic is more important than being like everyone else.

  2. Bullying at any age is unacceptable. We need to teach this now and fix this issue before we create more adults who continue to bully other adults.  We have enough of that now.  It starts with us as parents to put a stop to this action.  Bullying a child will alter who they become as an adult and they never fully get over it.

  3. Every action will have consequences whether good or bad. We need to teach our children that no matter what action they choose, they must be willing to accept the consequences for it and then we need to step back and make sure they learn that lesson without us trying to save them.  Of course, it is always difficult to watch your children take the punishment for something they did, but isn’t it better they learn it now with small stuff then later with big stuff?

  4. When making good choices, remind them they reap the rewards as well. It is easy to get caught up in the negative and forget to present the positives.  But we need to let them know that sometimes the rewards are just feeling good for having done the right thing…that in itself is a reward.

  5. They shouldn’t always follow the examples of their elders and leaders. Honestly, this is a sad statement, but one in this day and age we must teach them.  Most children believe if someone is older than them, they must do as they are told or do as those elders do.  This is dangerous thinking.  We need to teach them to draw a line in the sand of what is expected of them such as being respectful, but not all behavior from adults are worthy of following.  There are bad leaders everywhere…inappropriate teachers, church leaders, bosses, leaders of our states and leaders of our world.  We would not want our children growing up to believe some of those are good examples to follow.

  6. Be a leader more than a follower. Honestly, it would be nice to never have to follow, but that isn’t realistic.  We must follow laws and rules and directions from bosses when given, but for the most part we should be teaching our children to be leaders in the world even if that world ends up being the small space they occupy every day.

  7. Take responsibility. This is a big one today.  I can’t even turn the news on anymore without someone blaming someone else for something they did themselves or using the excuse well so and so did this as if that wipes away what they’ve done. Seriously, let’s teach our kids they must take responsibility.  If they broke the lamp, admit to it and take the consequences (see above on that one).  If they cheated on the test, own up to it.  We need to let them know eventually, they’ll get caught anyways.  This is a hard one for adults to teach children since most of us want to avoid responsibility of our actions, but it is something we must teach and change in this world!

  8. You are not special in this world. Okay, so you might be special to your parents, but that is where it ends.  Now don’t get me wrong…every person I believe has something special to give to this world, but we need our children to not feel they need to live up to some ‘special’ that doesn’t exist.

  9. Listen.  Yes this seems easy, but most people would rather talk than listen and by listening I mean not interrupting to tell the person anything about you.  Just listen.  Soak it in and they’ll be amazed what they’ll learn.

  10. Be loyal. This is a trait most kids do not have anymore.  Most move from friend to friend looking for something better.  You know that saying ‘the grass is greener on the other side of the fence,’ but honestly, it rarely is.

  11. Every person that comes into their life has a purpose, so when the relationship ends, do so kindly since someday they’ll look back and realize there was a reason that person was there and without them, their life may not look the same as it does today. Even if things turn sour in the end and they must release them from their life, do it kindly since they provided them a much needed piece of the puzzle in their life.

  12. It is okay to fail! In fact, you should insist they fail.  They will learn so much more from failure than winning.  Sure winning feels better, but failure provides growth.  We need to let them fail without trying to sugarcoat it and make it seem less than what it is.

  13. Don’t live life in hate or fear. Both will build a wall around them and stunt their personal growth.  Encourage your children to do those things they fear.  I didn’t actually learn this lesson myself until recently and once I faced my fears and pushed through them, I found I could do way more than I thought possible.  And hate…well teach them to take that word out of their vocabulary.

  14. Be kind. It is much easier to talk poorly about someone then kind.  We all have done it, but kindness truly can change the world.  Years ago (okay a very long time ago), I worked an internship where I had heard the guy I would report to and who would train me was horrible to work with.  I was told he would berate me and it would be a difficult five months.  I still took the internship hoping they were wrong, but they weren’t.  He was what they claimed and worse, but I smiled through the day and when it was time to clock out I made sure to turn towards him and smile and say “thank you for a wonderful day.  I learned a lot.”  I did that every day.  Within a few months, the cruel comments stopped and believe it or not, by the end of the five months, I was eating dinner with him and we remained friends for years.

  15. Love! Love and love again!  It might seem obvious, but I don’t know that it is.  We need to love our families and our friends…that is obvious.  We also need to love those we don’t know and those that seem unlovable.  We need to teach our children love will alter their lives more than it will those who receive the love.  AND they need to love even after being hurt…love again.  They can’t get so jaded that they give up on love.  Yes, they’ll get hurt when loving.  Yes, love won’t always be returned, but trust me the rewards to love will outweigh hate!  Once you give over to hating, you lose a part of yourself.

I believe we focus so much on teaching our children academic and athletic skills or ways to be popular, that we forget how important these other skills are.  We need to change our focus on our children from being the best at school or sports to being a better person.  I’ll never forget when I was frustrated with something one of my children was lacking in school and mentioned it to my brother and his words were so wise.  “Your purpose as their parent is to raise a well-adjusted, self-sufficient, adult who can bring more to the world, rather than a child who excels in school and sports.”  I changed my focus as a parent due to that statement.  I hope it does for you as well!

But the most important part of teaching these lessons is simple yet most find it difficult…Be the one good leader in your child’s world and live the example you teach!

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