As I’m soldiering through these tween years, I have a new respect for mommas who’ve raised well-balanced, know-right-from-wrong adults who also have a deep, true genuine love for everyone.
It’s not easy. Here’s how this has played out in our house:
We teach them our core values. The things we want to stick. The things we think are decision-making foundations. Things that are important to us.
We repeat them over and over. We model them. We use our own past mistakes to try and teach them why we want them to do better than we did.
Here are a few important values for our family:
Sex is a gift for marriage. Wait until you’re married, it will be safe and enjoyable.
Respect your body. God created you and lives in you. Don’t use drugs, show too much skin, etc. Protect your mind and heart from destructive stuff (including images on screens).
Persevere. Don’t quit. Follow the dreams God puts in your heart. Work hard. Don’t ever be lazy.
Integrity. Don’t do the right thing for recognition. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing. Even if you stand alone, stand up for the right thing.
They eventually get it. You notice it in their behavior. You hear them repeating one of your statements. Those core values are engrained in their little hearts. It’s black and white. There are no shades of gray (sorry, I couldn’t resist). This is right, that is wrong.
Then, they see things. They hear things. And some of it doesn’t match our family values.
Our trying-to-figure-it-out tween says, “You know my friend at church? She showed me an inappropriate picture on her phone. Should I still be her friend?”
“When I saw the news today, the singer I love with that cute new song was wearing an outfit that showed a lot of skin. Now, I don’t even know if I like that song.”
And, here comes the judgment. (*By the way, I altered those scenarios to protect my tween and the other parties involved.)
They’re learning to make decisions based on our core family values and when others don’t follow those same rules, they start to judge.
This is what I’ve discovered in my mothering journey: the talk that happens next is equally as important as instilling those core values. Because this is when we teach them to love.
We tell them — no one is perfect. We all mess up. It doesn’t make it right, but we are not supposed to judge. God tells us to love. The one-liner I use a thousand times a week is “We’re all still learning.”
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
That verse is good. That verse in action is even better. My kids need to see me love people who’ve offended me. It’s even more important to show them how to love. They’ll see me loving someone with whom I don’t agree with on a certain value, and they’ll learn to love everyone.
So, I want to hear from you. I’m still in this journey trying to figure it out. How do you keep the balance of instilling foundational truths important to you, while also teaching your kids to love those who don’t follow the same values?
Note: For more on Mandy’s thoughts regarding parenting in the internet age, grab a copy of her book TALK. She shares the ups and downs of her cyber-parenting journey and the game-changing discovery that transformed her approach to parenting.