Jonathan was born in November of 1998. I wasn’t there. He didn’t become my son until April of 2011 when I married his father, making a covenant with my husband, Jonathan and Nicholle. On that day we became family, and I knew immediately I would spend the rest of my life teaching my son (and daughter) how to be amazing humans.
Holy, Not Happy
During the time I was dating my husband, we read a book called Sacred Marriage. The premise of the book is that marriage is intended to make you holy, not happy. Holiness was the goal. Gary Thomas also released a book called Sacred Parenting with a similar idea, suggesting that through the process of teaching our children to be amazing humans who pursue righteousness it was parents who would experience the most transformation. He was right; and, if this was the case we needed to determine our family values, those ideals which would drive our approach to parenting.
Take Our Family Values With You
Our family values hospitality and truth above all things. This is evidenced in why our children do chores, why we have family dinners, how we host people in our home, and how we interact with anyone we have the pleasure of meeting. Now that our son is 19 and heading on to serve our country in the Air Force, I wanted to know how these values of truth and hospitality taught in our home have translated into his own personal set of values, so I asked him. His responses blessed my heart. He shared these “are the values that come to (his) mind when thinking about…things (he) wouldn’t value without us”.
Here are a few of the things he shared with me:
- Willingness to serve: If someone has a need and he can meet it, he would gladly offer his assistance.
- The importance of order: As a person who is not naturally organized, he finds himself spontaneously attempting to bring order and clean up even if he is a guest.
- Discernment and discretion: Words have a lot of power, and knowing when to speak is just as important as knowing what to say. Admittedly he struggles more with the former more than the latter; he appreciates having the ability to make a distinction at all.
- Tolerance: He expressed this is not the modern idea of “you have to agree with me” but instead the notion that all people are loved by God regardless of their life choices and need to be treated as people rather than a series of mistakes.
- Community: Without seeing both community and isolation and the impact of both, he would not see much point in actively cultivating relationships – especially local relationships.
- Hospitality: This goes hand-in-hand with a willingness to serve and making people feel comfortable in their own skin no matter where he may be.
I do believe he left out “bossy” (wink, wink) which he comes by naturally. It is evidenced in his final statement to me, “All right, those…I think those are the ones you’re going to want to focus on while writing anything about our family’s impact on me rather than just my personal values.” Gotcha!
Connecting Actions to Values
Making the connection between the things we do as a family and our family values has always been important. We don’t ask our kids to do something just because we say so. Instead, we connect those actions to one of our family values. Our kids do chores because having a clean home, according to my son, “is conducive to making people feel at home”. We tend to agree. Perfection, no. Clean, yes. I am talking about making sure things smell nice, that there is toilet paper in the bathrooms, and that their rooms are picked up to the point that if we had a guest needing to stay they could easily have a tidy room to sleep in.
Social Media and Raising Amazing Humans
My son joined social media around the time he turned 18 and it was at my prompting. Until that time, his digital footprint was limited to some online writing forums. My daughter has also had very limited access to social media. Both kids will tell you they are better humans because of it, and our reasoning is connected to our family values. Watching your phone screen when you are spending time with someone in person is contrary to our family value of hospitality. If our kids are not on social media, then checking their phone never becomes an issue.
Social media (and individuals on social media) have a tendency to distort truth in some ways. This is not always the case, and great social justice movements have begun using social media platforms but so have some of the most detrimental forms of bullying. Connecting things like social media and chores to our family values is one of the ways we have chosen to help in raising great humans.
In The End
The truth is (regardless of how much effort we put into parenting, to loving our kids and to teaching them to be amazing humans) they are ultimately the ones to decide who they will be when they walk out your door and into adulthood. What I want more than anything is for my son to love God, love people, and take our family values with him wherever he goes.