Not in Front of the Kids!!

Children learn
“Not in front of the kids!” was a phrase I recall a mom in my neighborhood using fairly often. It was always whispered through gritted teeth, accompanied by a stern glare, when one of the teenagers in the room used a word she though inappropriate for us little kids.

The teens thought it was hilarious, and did it to show off how grown up they were and to bait her practiced response.

Adults on social media, discussing politics, and specifically the recent world events in Paris and California might benefit from the presence of that neighborhood watchmom.

I am stunned at the hatred and vile comments hoisted into cyerspace from those who claim to love and know Jesus. And if the depth of their anger and vitriol are any indication, I doubt Facebook is their only outlet. They write it because they believe it. And if they believe it, it is invading their attitudes and their conversations with those in their world.

  • I hate them all and cannot pray for them.
  • Kill them and wrap them in pigskins. Then let them try to get to their god.

Both of these actual comments from people whose profiles showed they were Christians. And these were some of the tamer quotes.

This is not just a political issue. This is a family issue.

What about the children? Your kids, your grandkids? What are we teaching them about the very specific commandments Jesus gave us while here on earth?

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” Matt. 5:24 (KJV).

“Do to others as you would like them to do to you,” Luke 6:31 (NLT).

It does not instruct us to do unto others as they have DONE to us. And while what has been done is horrific, without excuse, and beyond explanation, we must know that those who have murdered innocents have been deceived by their false prophet into believing they are serving their god.

We have the opportunity to teach our children to follow the Word, regardless of our fears or our feelings. It’s easy to do so when all is well with our world. Much tougher to do when it seems chaotic and out of control. But it begins in us, to reject the fear that breeds anger and hatred and lean heavily on God’s Spirit within to love and forgive instead. Our children learn what they live and live what they learn. What are they learning in our homes today?

Here are three tips to prevent your anxiety from creating fear in your children.

  • Reassure them that God is watching over them. Help them understand early in life that God is on their side, always with them because He loves them.
  • Keep adult conversations among the adults.Discussing the world around us and praying for protection and resolution is important. But allow children to be free of hearing your anxiety or anger expressed. It serves no purpose, but to create anxiety in them.
  • Ask God to guide your own emotional responses. Focus on the scriptures and Christ’s example of loving those who hate you. He was innocent throughout the days leading up to the cross and could have allowed His righteous anger to guide Him. He chose, instead, to ask His Father to forgive them with His very last breath. Ask God to guide your responses and emotions through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

In the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific, there is a beautiful song, You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught, that addresses the idea that children are born as clean slates. And yet they learn how to hate. It doesn’t have to come in a daily tutorial or indoctrination. It comes by observing the people they love and trust. Read the lyrics (below) and see if they strike a chord in you. Little eyes are watching, little hearts are forming their thoughts based on the adults around them. They’re counting on us.

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught

You’ve got to be taught

To hate and fear,

You’ve got to be taught

From year to year,

It’s got to be drummed

In your dear little ear

You’ve got to be carefully taught.


You’ve got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.


You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You’ve got to be carefully taught!

It’s a (Simply) Wonderful Life

ifwt_ARRalphie_SteveChristmas trees have appeared in the big box stores in my area. Wreaths, garland, and red velvet ribbon can be easily located. I’ve yet to hear carols piped into the mall, but my bet is that it won’t be long.

This year we will be blessed with five little grandboys gathered in our home for the holidays. A sixth is waiting in the wings, scheduled to arrive after the New Year. The boys range in age from 3 months to 7 years old. It’s going to be noisy. And messy. And all kinds of wonderful.

As “Papa” and I consider the gift lists, I feel certain I will be asked to do what I dread every year: take a trip to the toy store. It’s not a new issue for me; I didn’t like them when I was raising my own sons. The huge emporiums of battery-begging, plasticized wonders, with price tags that would make Saint Nick consider early retirement are not my idea of a good time. And the thought of that stuff finding a home at my house makes me a little woozy. I cringe at the spectacle the season has become, and wonder what God must think about it all.

Holidays are gift-giving opportunities, and I do enjoy seeing the faces of my boys, both tall and tiny, as they open something special, selected just for them. How do we keep our balance, with a focus on honoring Christ and enjoying gift giving and the blessing it brings?

Several years ago, before the grandboys began arriving, my hubby and I proposed a new Christmas plan to our sons and daughters-in-law. Our suggestion? A shared experience in place of gifts. There were a few raised eyebrows and requests for clarification, but eventually, thumbs up all around.

The first year we rented a mountain cabin where the snow and the crackling fire kept us inside playing games, watching movies and talking. Remember talking? It’s been downgraded thanks to the (anti)social media mania. The kids ventured out to ski and we all indulged in a quick snowball fight. We exchanged letters on Christmas morning, each writing a note to the others acknowledging the gifts and gratitude of doing life together. One of the best, ever.

Disney World was beautiful at the holidays, and one year we opted to delay the timing for some fun in the sun of California. As the years advanced, the first couple of kiddles joined us as travelers. I wouldn’t trade those trips and the time together for anything.

But this year with three babies 18 months and under, coupled with a very pregnant mama-to-be, travel is not an option. So we will enjoy time together with games and conversation and lots of meals in. I keep imagining the horror on the faces of restaurant owners (and fellow diners) at the request for three high chairs – at one table.

Logistics aside, the little ones will be wondering which packages under the tree might hold something special. So the toy store seems unavoidable. Or does it?

My niece, Amanda, posted a list entitled “18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children” on her Facebook page. The blog link revealed a list for toddlers as well. The blogger describes the life her family pursues as follows: My name is Rachel. I’m a minimalist, blogger, lover of Jesus, wife to Brian, mom to 6 and real food connoisseur. We live in a 1132 sq. ft. house, in Montana and strive for a simple life. I like her. And I respect her choice to live without all the stuff the marketeers work to convince us we must have.

The list is creative, with unusual suggestions like crafting dates, events, and memberships for the older kids. Books, games, and puzzles appear as steady eddie choices that never go out of style. The site, features healthy food, decluttering suggestions and living a simpler life where your things don’t own you.

So perhaps this year you might swim against the tide in the selection of gifts for your little ones. It’s never too late to make new choices. For the mid-centurians in the group, we’ve lived long enough to amass more than our share of stuff. There are two ways to be rich: make more or want less.  Perhaps we can help influence the little ones to choose wealth by wanting less stuff and living more life. As grandparents, we have a responsibility to the next generations so Jesus, not things, becomes the focus.

And if it minimizes the time in the toy store experience, I’m all in!