Love in Action: Teach Your Children

Teach Your Children
Teach Your Children
Learning how to hook up the trailer.

As parents, it is our duty to feed, clothe, and house our children.  It is our duty to wipe dirty bottoms, runny noses, messy faces, and spilled milk.  But our duties as parents go beyond merely ensuring the survival of our offspring.

Love in Action Day 12

Whether or not today’s action comes naturally to you, you can make it part of your daily life.  Eventually it will be as natural as breathing.  Well, almost.  Plus, these small actions today will make your life far simpler in the long run.  If your oldest are toddlers, you’re just going to have to trust me on this.

Teach your children.

There are two types of teaching: passive and active.

When you teach passively, your natural behavior and actions speak to the children. They will learn by example and imitation.  Here’s proof: Who among us hasn’t woken one day to the sorrow of seeing our own faults and shortcomings mirrored in our children?  Uh-huh. It is important to be the person you want your child to become, to represent the character traits and faith you would like realized in your own children.  A life of example is often the best teacher.  Nevertheless, passive teaching is not enough.

What we are dealing with today is active teaching.

In active teaching, parents intentionally take time to pass on a skill set or knowledge to their children.

Love in Action: Teach Your Kids
Learning to care selflessly for others is a priceless gift.

The rather backward trend in America today is to raise children who are active in dance, track, soccer, basketball, swimming, clubs, football, softball, and debate.  However, those same children grow up, get married, and have no idea how to run a home, form a budget, fix a drawer, cook a meal, or plan a trip.  They know nothing about gardening, child care, or home and auto maintenance.  Their idea of relationships is a popularity contest.  Basically, they are still kids who will be raising kids of their own to be overgrown kids.

When you fail to teach your children the skills they will need for life, you are placing them on a very difficult road.  Worse, you are failing them. Eventually, they will need to learn these things themselves.  If you don’t teach them, they will have to play teacher and student simultaneously.

It is extremely difficult to teach yourself how to manage a home and tend children when you are in the midst of managing a home and tending children. It is downright discouraging to try to learn how to budget when you are already thousands of dollars in debt.  It is a monumental task to figure out how to lovingly manage conflict if issues were avoided rather than dealt with in your childhood or if contrary children were sent away rather than trained.   

Teach your children how to cook, clean, budget, fix things, maintain a home, maintain a car, change a tire, do laundry properly, write letters, plant a garden, change a diaper.  Teach them how to greet a stranger, greet a friend, answer the phone, treat a lady, treat a man, deal with peer pressure, handle conflict, and ask for forgiveness.  And for heaven’s sake, teach them some table manners!

Love in Action: Teach Your Children
Fixing a drawer with a screwdriver, three hands, and a foot.

Whatever it is that you do in a day, involve and teach your children.

Don’t shoo your two-year-old out of the kitchen when you are batch cooking.  Give her a safe knife and some mushrooms to cut. By the time boys and girls are ten, they should be able to prepare an entire meal, with supervision.  Don’t leave them and your future grandchildren at the mercy of Burger King.

Don’t think girls don’t need to know how to change a tire. When you have a flat, call them all out.  Eventually, have them change it for you. Someday they will have a flat.  Do you want them at the mercy of whoever is driving by at the time?  No way!

When something needs fixing, let the three-year-old help with his plastic hammer.  Call in your teens and ask for their ideas on how it should be done.  Work together!  Raise handy men and capable women.

In the same way, practice legitimate budgeting.  Discuss relationship building.  Talk about family bonds and share stories from your childhood.  Teach manners, chivalry, and respect.  Talk over issues at work, in the neighborhood, or at church in a non-gossipy manner, so the children can learn to think and respond rationally.  Work together through family challenges so when (not if) they encounter them in their own families, they will be prepared.

Don’t expect your children to raise themselves in their thirties.

And as the potential future mother-in-law of seven, I beg you

Please don’t expect their future husbands or wives to do your parenting job.

Seriously.  I’m on my knees here, people.

Love in Action: Teach Your Kids
Give them the skills and they will make their world beautiful.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s an overheard conversation between two of my children hard at work managing the home, one of whom is still learning humility:

Child 1, needing humility training: Aren’t we awesome?!

Child 2, humility school graduate: No, our parents are awesome for training us.

Someday they will thank you.

How do you teach your children the life skills they will need?  What skills do parents often overlook?

Helpful Tools: My eldest was four when my grandmother gave me the book Life Skills for Kids: Equipping Your Child for the Real World.  It lists what skills your child should be capable of at certain ages (all children are different–we all know that, right?!), as well as a systematic approach to teaching them what they will someday need to know.

In Life Skills for Kids I read that a teenager should be able to manage a home.  I despaired, thinking my daughter would never learn to tie her shoes much less not burn down the house in 9 years.  Now she is 15 and our second is 13.  They can manage a home–cooking, cleaning, doing minor repairs, doing laundry, handling minor finances, performing business duties, managing pet care, some gardening, menu planning, some budgeting, tending younger children or the sick, correspondence, computer work, and more–learning by our sides every step of the way.  I am not bragging–I am offering a vision.  People, train them!  Please!  (Yup, I’m still begging. It’s that important,)

Buy Life Skills for Kids (the book, not the actual skills) here.


18 thoughts on “Love in Action: Teach Your Children”

  1. Girl, all I can say is AMEN!

    I see this so often in grown people-several people popped into my head as I read this. It’s so sad how they live their lives, not knowing simple things like how to care for their homes and families, manage their money, etc.

    My 2 children are still very young 4 and 7, we focus most of our homeschool time on real life skills right now, rather than academics (though we do those too) but my 7 year old can make a cake by himself (minus the oven part LOL), chop vegetables with a real knife, help with laundry…and the 4 year old isn’t far behind. How many 7 year olds are allowed to do these things in today’s society? Their future wives will thank me 🙂

    1. Thank you, Sonita! Thank you for raising your boys the way you are. As the mother of five girls (and a boy), I grow highly concerned when I see boys that are not being raised as responsible, capable, helpful men. You go, Girl! 🙂

  2. I couldn’t agree more! We need to bathe our children and ourselves in prayer so that we can be Christ-like examples daily to our kids. Living and learning life skills is so vital for our children.

    1. Definitely! I have found, in my struggles to be like Christ and my constant failures, that asking my children for forgiveness is very powerful. They see me fail, they hear me ask for forgiveness, and they see me rise up on a prayer and try again! God’s blessings to you, and thank you for your comment.

  3. I find myself doing this even with the children I work with. So few parents take the time to really talk and engage their children. You are so right. I’m just loving your site.

    1. Thank you, June!

      Children have such fascinating minds and eager attitudes, that we all miss out when we don’t take the time to, as you say, engage them. How wonderful that you invest this effort in the children you work with!

  4. I recently heard an ad on the radio that was a conversation between a mother and a child encouraging the child to find colors as they were driving along. It was something about finding simple ways to teach your children in non formal settings. I am always surprised at these things since it seems like it should be second nature. It’s great to have little helpers, (even though it does slow you down a bit), and really neat to see them figure stuff out on their own as they get older.

    1. I know what you mean. In the grocery store there are television screens (seriously, I know) and there was a short program explaining to parents that it was national eat dinner as a family week or something like that. My children were amazed that people had to be told to spend time together. But, I guess if you weren’t raised that way, why would you know differently.

      I have pictures of my firstborn helping in the kitchen 13 years ago, and now she can run the kitchen. What a blessing! Especially since right now I’m responding to you instead of making dinner. 😉

      You’re a great Mommy! Love ya!

  5. I feel like my husband and I were those grown up kids that were not taught alot about cooking,budgeting and so on. We both grew up on fast food or frozen food. We have had to learn it as we go and swear that we will not do that to out children!! I love this post!

    1. It is much harder to learn how to live, essentially, as a grown up instead of being prepared for it all along the way. At least you know the value and are committed to preparing your own children. Their future spouses will thank you!

      Of course, there are always those things we learn as we go. I’m sure I’ll be 90 and grumbling, “Why didn’t anybody tell me ______?!” Ha ha!

      Thanks for dropping by, Tracy!

  6. I work as a maintenance supervisor for an apartment complex. I do alot of the simple upkeep on the property myself, and only call for outside help when I have to. My 11 year old daughter comes to work with me on afternoons and some weekends and has watched me do plumbing work, drywall repair, etc, etc for the last 6 years, (since she was 5). Not only this but regular everyday household duties as well. She has learned to love the earth by working outside with me, picking up trash that tenants leave on the ground and taking care of things outside. She has learned how hard it is to make money, by watching me work, taking care of 2 apartment buildings, and how easy it is to spend it in a flash. She’s learned how couponing can help us save money, and she has learned to think about what she’s buying in the store and ask herself if she really, really wants/needs it. I know that by showing my kids not to be afraid to work hard, that they will follow in my footsteps. My kids know that nothing in life comes to you, you have to go get it. I know I have done well as a mother, because I have been greatly rewarded already with my 23 year old daughter, who just passed her legal assistant certification, and will start law school in the fall. What more can we ask for in life than to know we have been a good example for our kids?

    1. Your kids are blessed to learn young that the trimmings of life are not handed to them on a silver platter! Thanks for sharing about your girls, especially your 23-year-old. My oldest is 15, and I like to hear from people who have raised children to adulthood. It’s great to know what worked and didn’t work from a been-there, done-that perspective. 🙂

  7. I really enjoyed your post! It’s helpful for a younger mother like me to hear exhortation and practical advice for training our children to be capable adults! I have a 15 month old boy, and I’ve found a lot of his fussiness during the day can be alleviated by simply giving him things to do. No more charging through my day, getting everything done while he sits and looks on–he wants to be involved! And it’s forcing me to change my approach and find things he can do to help me… putting clothes in the basket, handing me silver ware from the dishwasher, tossing trash out in the trash can, picking up toys… It takes longer, but it makes him happy. It’s so sweet to see how eager he is to do what Mommy and Daddy do! 🙂

    1. Your little boy is going to grow up with a lot of valuable skills and a strong awareness of the very real value of his contributions to the family. You’re doing him a wonderful service! God’s blessings and thank you for the comment!

    2. My daughter at 16 months loves to help me rotate laundry. She also loves to choose her clothes each day. It is amazing how much they are capable of at this young age.

      1. So true! And they love doing it, too. It’s my goal to nurture and keep that love of work (or at least a cheerful willingness) in my children as they grow up. So far, so good. Your daughter will be a great help to you!

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