Summer sunshine filtered through the tree leaves outside the restaurant’s front doors. Our name was on the list for a table, and I had chosen a spot under the cool shade as we waited. Clusters of people were also waiting, laughing as they talked. A pair of women got up and headed to the door as their pager signaled their table was ready. A man near the door got up from the bench where he was seated and opened the door for them. His son, maybe five years old, rushed to mimic his father’s actions, and he tugged open the second door with all his might. He beamed as the women thanked him. His father was teaching him from an early age how to be polite and show kindness. I began to ponder what things I want my kids to know.
25 Things I Want My Kids to Know
There are hundreds of things that are important to teach our kids during their lifetime. Here are just twenty-five things that I want my kids to know as they grow up. What would be on your list?
1. God is Always With You
God is always with you, even in the best and worst of times. There is no situation too dire for Him to reach you. Recognize that He is there, He loves you, and that He longs to have a relationship with you. Spending time with God every day will help you to have a strong relationship with Him. Pray. Read your Bible. Prioritize this relationship, and all the other parts of your life will fall into the right places.
2. There Has Never Been Anyone Exactly Like You
God created you to be unique, and He knew who you would be before you were born (Psalm 139). Cherish those unique qualities you see in yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others. There has never been anyone, ever who is exactly like you. Follow the dreams and passions that God has planted in your heart, and have the confidence to know that you can achieve them.
3. Respect: Give It, Earn It, Expect It
Give respect to others and make sure that you are earning respect from others. In your friendships and relationships, expect respect to be a mutual exchange between you, one that will build you up rather than tear you down.
4. Choose Your Friends Wisely and Be a Good Friend
The people you choose to let into your circle will significantly impact your self-worth, beliefs, and values. Choose your friends wisely. Do your best to be a good friend at all times. Encourage each other through the good times and bad, and continually lift each other up in prayer. Good friends can make all the difference.
5. Have Mentors Who Are Older Than You
Have mentors in your life who are ten or more years older than you. They have walked through the life stage and experience you are going through, and have unique wisdom and perspective on situations you will face. Learn from these mentors and allow them to help you grow.
6. Value an Education
No matter how far you go in school or what profession you choose, always be a student of life. Fuel a desire to learn more about as many things as you can. Be a master of observation and learn from the people and circumstances surrounding you. Nurture a love of story; through it you will discover new ideas and learn new things.
7. Have Adventures and Play Hard
Be adventurous! Do things that scare you (but always do them safely). Whether it’s skydiving with a parachute, publishing your novel, or saying hi to that person you like, muster your courage and do something new and exciting. Adventures will push you to grow and will expand your horizons. While work is important, remember that it is essential to play and take time to rest. Rest is so crucial to the health of our mind and body, and playing encourages creativity and laughter in your life.
8. 90% of What You’ll Worry About Won’t Come True
Life comes with its challenges, but it’s easy to get carried away with worrying about the future. Worry can turn into anxiety and stress and have a negative impact on your mental, emotional, and physical health. Stay focused on the present and instead of wondering what can go wrong, wonder what can go right.
9. Embrace Your Passions
Reach for the stars and pursue the dreams and passions that God gave you wholeheartedly. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Go for that relationship, that job, that dream. The answer will always be “no” if you don’t give it a shot. Set goals for yourself and aim high! Then work hard to achieve them. You will find that gaining something after working hard for it is so much more rewarding than having it given to you.
10. Nurture a Servant’s Heart
Have a servant’s heart and do things that are helpful and encouraging to others. Whether it is helping a neighbor mow their yard, cooking dinner for a family with a newborn, sending a card of encouragement, or volunteering in the community (to name a few), serving others is a beautiful way to share Christ’s love with others.
11. Stay Away From Addictive Substances
Stay away from drugs or other addictive substances. You don’t need them. They will only dull and diminish your life experience, and the setbacks that they cause may seriously harm you and your future. Commit to avoiding them before you ever try them. Once you start, it is incredibly difficult to stop.
12. Don’t Judge Others
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:1-6 not to judge others, or we ourselves will be judged. Make it a point to understand and empathize with people rather than being quick to judge them. Appearances can be deceiving, and being quick to judge others only puts up walls between people and in our own hearts.
13. Stand Up For Others
Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Be a champion for people who have marginalized voices and for causes that the Bible supports. The popular thing isn’t always the right thing, and sometimes people like you will need to stand up for biblical values.
Launch Into the Teen Years will get you and your teen talking.....
14. Be Kind. Always.
You never know what the person next to you has been going through. A simple act of kindness can brighten their day or bring hope when they feel they’ve lost it. Kindness can be an excellent witness for the love of Christ in their lives.
15. Life is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You Respond
I want you to know that you can’t control what happens in life or how others may treat you, but you can control how you respond to it. Your response to those things that do happen to you can make all the difference in the outcome and in how you perceive life. Cling to God in all circumstances and respond with understanding, patience, and kindness whenever possible.
16. Make Wise Decisions
Always test your decisions against the Word of God, and pray over them. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment. Have the courage to stand up when the right decision isn’t the popular or easy one.
17. Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude is a necessary attitude to have in our lives. It keeps in perspective how blessed we indeed are by God, no matter the circumstances. Always be grateful for who is in your life, and what you have.
18. Manage Your Money Wisely
Be a good steward of your money, and be careful with how you choose to spend it. Save for a rainy season. Having a good credit score can open tremendous opportunities for you. Make wise choices from early on and be generous with the blessings God has given you.
19. Keep Your Word
The Bible says to let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” (Matthew 5:37, NKJV). Always keep your word to another person and, by doing so, you will gain trust and respect from others.
20. Have Humility
Have a humble heart. You are equally as loved as the person standing next to you in the eyes of God. Humility will give you a mindset that will help you learn and grow throughout your life, and develop good relationships with the people around you.
21. Be a Contributor
Just as others have contributed to your life, be a contributor to the lives of others. Take time to invest in someone’s growth or learning, or be part of their cheer squad. The difference you can make by contributing to another’s life can be monumental. Take the extra step to show someone you care. For example, hold open a door, offer your seat on the bus, give an umbrella, or send a note of encouragement. These little things plant seeds that make the world a better place. Giving compliments to others contributes to your own positive attitude and can uplift others. That single word of encouragement that you give to another person may make all the difference in their day and can be a fantastic way to share the love of Christ with them.
22. Own Your Mistakes, But Don’t Be Afraid to Make Them.
When you make mistakes, and you will, own up to them and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. No one ever gets things right on the first try, or even the second or third. For example, Thomas Edison tried to make a lightbulb in many different ways, most of which were failures. But he didn’t give up until he reached success. Likewise, don’t give up and learn from your mistakes.
23. Forgive and Ask For Forgiveness
When they have wronged you, forgiving others will free your heart from the heavy burden of anger and carrying a grudge. When you make mistakes, humble yourself and ask others for their forgiveness. Forgiveness can restore relationships and mend wrongs in our lives.
24. A Winner Never Quits, and a Quitter Never Wins
A favorite quote of mine is, “It is possible to do everything right and still lose.” I want you to know that not everything you do in life will come out as you expected. Some things will turn out well, and other things will not, no matter how hard you try. Find joy in the good moments, and learn from the difficult times. Remember not to throw in the towel. If you persevere, you will find that your successes will be greater than your failures.
25. Take Care of Your Body, Mind, and Soul.
You only get one body, so take care of it as best as you can. Find joy every day and take time to laugh, play, and love others. Exercise and live a healthy lifestyle. Take care of your mental health. Invest in your spiritual health by spending time with God.
These are just 25 things that I want to teach my kids, 25 things that I want my kids to know. There are probably many different things that you would like to see grow and develop in your own kids as well. While they are not tangible life skills like riding a bike or knowing how to swim, these concepts and character traits can make a tremendous difference in their lives and in the lives of the people around them.