Mama, What Habits and Norms Are You Giving Your Children?
We have a family habit of taking off and dropping our shoes by the back door when we come in. Then, twice a week, one of the little boys has a chore of tidying them all. Looking back, it would have been better for me to teach them all to practice diligence from the beginning, by having everyone find a shelf for their shoes every single time.
Instead, now, we’re fighting bad habits in that area and … the worst part??!… it’s MY FAULT.
So now I’ve got to decide: am I OK with continuing to facilitate laziness in this way or do we need to completely rebuild this multiple-times-a-day habit we’ve all developed of randomly depositing our shoes in various spots near the rear exit of our home?
What sorts of habits are your children learning in your home? What sorts of attitudes are becoming habitual in their hearts? This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s something I was thinking about today.
Our job as mothers is so critical-– we are teaching our children habits that will carry them through their days, for good or for ill. The things they learn in our house will either help them along in their lives, OR will be poor habits that they have to unlearn and fight all their lives.
Consider these questions and ask yourself–
What might need to change in your home in order to give your children the gift of good habits that will lead to their joy and health?
THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD AND HIS CHURCH:
#1- Are you teaching your kids to:
- reverence God and prioritize His Bride, the church, in their lives, schedules, and hearts, or to
- treat their role as part of the Body of Christ as optional and occasional?
#2- Are they seeing you:
- prize Scripture and trust what King Jesus says above your feelings, or
- treat Him like Britains do the Queen of England– something to honor from a distance, occasionally pay attention to, and not really know on a personal level?
#3- Are they learning:
- to consider others and treat them as they want to be treated, or
- developing a bent toward self-centeredness, self-pity, and self-orientation?
#4- Are your children being trained to:
- honor God in their choices and see everything in life as related to Him as Creator and King, or to
- compartmentalize their lives and see God as only related to spiritual things, and to see their own choices and habits as wholly unrelated to God & Scripture?
THEMSELVES, THEIR LIVING SPACE, AND APPROACH TO WORK:
#5- Are your kids learning to:
- Greet the day cheerfully and purposefully, or
- start out each day sluggishly and with trepidation?
#6- Are they developing a pattern of:
- Keeping their bodies and their rooms tidy, or
- living in grubbiness and squalor?
#7- Are you purposefully instilling habits of:
- diligence in their work, or
- doing as little as possible?
#8- Are they picking up habits of
- honoring Christ and living for others as being the central joys and purposes of their life, or
- living for the next time they get to do their video games/dolls/_________?
THEIR RELATIONAL NORMS:
#9- Are you teaching your kids to:
- ask for forgiveness quickly, and forgive easily, keeping relational “slates” clean, or to
- dwell in bitterness, pride, and unforgiveness by “sweeping things under the rug” and leaving things simmering and unresolved?
#10- Are your children learning to:
- respect their authorities and obey willingly, or to
- find loopholes and mischievously get out of things they’re asked to do?
#11- Are your kids learning:
- healthy habits of affection and tender loving kindness in your home, or
- self-ward habits that will make it more difficult for them to have a happy marriage and family life when they are adults?
THEIR APPROACH TO FOOD AND APPETITES:
#12- Are you training your children to:
- gratefully eat what they’re served, or to
- gripe about food, needing lots of modification in order to be content?
#13- Are your children learning:
- healthy portion sizes, and to eat in connection with others, or
- to overeat, inordinately crave sweets, and/or eat in isolation, sneaking and hiding their portions and choices?
#14- Are your children being trained to:
- seek and find balance and moderation in all their desires (movies? video games? clothing? shoes? activities? time with friends? food? pursuit of skills?), or to
- be dominated and mastered by their own appetites and desires?
#15- Are they developing a heart for:
- reading, and a curious thirst for learning about God’s world, or
- a lazy, “I’m BORED” approach to applying their God-given intellect and learning?
And of course, there are other things too, so look around your house and notice the “ways” of your household. These are given as examples, to get your mind going, but are not the only areas, and perhaps not even the most central/important areas upon which you should focus.
And yes, many of these have multiple “middle” stops between the two options above as well. So, yes, I tried to make the above options have a “right” and “wrong” answer… but there are other “right answers.”
The main thing I’m aiming at here is getting you to soberly estimate the state of your home.
For my part, I’m rethinking the way we deal with dishwashing, our habits with Nintendo DS, and (yes) the way we deal with our shoes.
I believe it’s beneficial when we:
- crystallize what habits and norms our children have (put it in precisely worded descriptions) and then
- project those exact habits and norms forward into their adult life, marriage, and parenting.
And then consider: will the habits and norms we are instilling in them be a blessing or a curse to them?
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