Our Free Book To You (10-12)

Chapter 10

Those Magic Words

 

We believe without question some of the rudest behavior is being displayed in our society today. People can be just as rude as they want to be. It seems to be a prevailing attitude. Somewhere it's part of their rights as a human being to do so, as if being ill-mannered is no big deal. In fact, they think hurling insults or tearing down another individual is okay. They wear their rude behavior as some form of self importance but in reality all they are displaying is an arrogant individual without any class. So without a doubt, as parents we need to teach our children proper manners. They need to know how to be polite and respectful toward others. 

We tried to always teach our children proper manners. We would teach them how to sit and how to behave. We would say to them “let’s be a lady”, or “be ladylike”. As adults, our girls would remind us of doing that and actually thank us for teaching them to have manners. As parents we didn’t want our children to be those that others would avoid because of their behavior. Instead we were able to take them anywhere we went because we knew they could behave. Think about it, we tend to like being around polite people, and just the opposite concerning rude people. In fact, sometimes we will go out of our way to avoid rude people. 

As adults when we come across a child with proper manners what was our impression? In the same way when you come across ill- mannered children what was your impression? Usually coming across rude children you will instantly look at the parent not so much the child. Manners carry a person so much further in life. As we teach our children manners, like a simple yes sir or yes ma’am, a thank you or please we are furthering them in life. Think what this will do for them later as adults. 

 We would tell our girls there is never a time to be disrespectful. We always remember disrespectful people and usually stay away from them. Disrespectful people disrespected themselves first by being disrespectful. It's a heart condition which most likely came from them being shown this attitude was alright or being continually disrespected by someone themselves. 

How great are manners! We still use “yes sir” and “no sir” or “ma’am”. We still try to show proper manners, not so much because it’s the right thing to do, but because without even thinking we just do it. When  a person truly has learned proper manners they have them for life. The lack of manners will usually show a callousness or an ‘I don’t care’ attitude  which gets people nowhere in life. 

When we are around younger people, say in their twenties and they just plop down on furniture, or shovel food into their mouths, not knowing  the proper use of a fork or knife, even a napkin, it speaks volumes to us and to those around. It also usually means nobody has taught them properly to begin with. 

We told  our children, when leaving the house for an event, to thank people, be polite, make sure you respect their property and be sure and clean up after yourself. We knew that instructing them now in proper manners and etiquette would help them become the ladies they were called to be. They were our princesses and we wanted them to behave like one. We need to realize their manners may take them in front of important people some day, and having the confidence of knowing how to handle themselves because they have proper manners, is priceless. Just simple modifications with your child such as teaching them to be respectful and showing manners will carry them past the normal crowd.

We collect antique books, I came across an early printing of Amy Vanderbilt on etiquette. It sparked my curiosity so I bought it and started to read. While I had never really been in what we might call a high society type of setting, I still read the section on proper table manners and proper table setting, what all the forks are for, and saucers, etc.. About  a week after reading this I was invited to a stately dinner. We entered an old victorian house, and inside was just as picturesque. When it came time to sit down to dinner,  (yes, you should know where I am going with this), it was just like the book I read. I felt so proud of myself knowing what to do and how to do it, I was actually helping some of those around me know what to do and what’s proper. People acted so impressed with me, of course they didn't know a week ago I was clueless and just in case you are wondering, no I did not tell anyone I had just read that section. 

 I told you that story because I felt so good about myself that evening, people looked at me differently. I was a little ahead of the crowd that night. We should want that feeling for our children all of their lives. 

We remember a friend of ours relating a story about asking his son what he wanted for his birthday, he may have been turning 13 or 14. His son said he would like to meet the queen. Yes, we are talking about the Queen of England.  So he arranged to be at a meeting where the queen would be as well.  The next few days he went over and over with his son on what the proper etiquette was. When the time came he said his son knew how to properly greet the Queen and he could tell the Queen was impressed. But here is an important thought. He was properly taught the right etiquette and will have that to fall back on for the rest of his life. He will know from this time forward what is proper for this kind of event. True manners are there for life.  But also we could tell how proud of his son our friend was, his son shined that night. So yes, If we were to go back and raise our children again we would teach them all that is necessary of manners as if they were going to be before Kings and Queens. 

 

Chapter 11

Being Hilarious

We need to teach our children how to have a generous heart because this will enable them to do all the things God has called them to do. A generous heart truly reflects how blessed a person really is and with that comes a responsibility to share those blessings with others. We want  our children  to see the absolute importance of being generous. They are to be a blessing to whoever they come in contact with and be a blessing wherever they go, not just with their money but their time, energy, and resources.

Along with generosity and being a blessing to others comes God’s principle of sowing and reaping. When we come to a place in our lives that seems unclear or we are unsure of the course of action or direction, then sow, give, be a blessing to someone, somewhere. Teaching our children to always think past themselves, no matter what they may be going through and no matter what is going on around them, is one of the most productive tools they can have.

  As parents we taught this principle to our children. We taught them to give, tithe, and to understand that what you sow is what you reap. We need to teach our children the importance of not just giving but giving with a huge, generous heart. It’s not about just tangible things but it’s about sowing as an extension of their heart, which will become a part of their attitude for life. The real truths of prosperity is not about having things or money but about being rich in God. 

It is important we teach our children to look for those opportunities to give away from self which is  necessary in sowing. Even helping them to understand that people will use them and at times be selfish and stingy around them but that doesn't dictate who they are or how they are to sow. We want them to know without a doubt that God sees their sowing and will take care of them. We need to emphasize this, just as the scripture states (2 Cor. 9:7) to be cheerful, joyful, even hilarious givers.  

 We are not just talking about giving money, but having a generous heart that always thinks to give first. There is no question on how important this principle is later on in life. When the true responsibilities of life hit them in adulthood, will they still be givers or start thinking of self first, and start holding back? 

 Here is what  S. Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-Fil-A) has been quoted as saying, "Success is not how much you have at the end of your lives or how much you made and accumulated but how much you gave;  My riches are my family and my foster children. I try to store any material wealth in my hand, not my heart, so that I always feel free to give it away when the opportunity rises; Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”

The real winners and champions in this life are the givers. But a generous heart goes so much further than just the giving of things. It’s those who are giving of their time and energy to people as well as their resources, they are always willing to give and bless others. A generous heart always operates this way. But even more than that, when life starts handing them some tough times, we would teach our children to trust their generous heart, it will move them through tough times. We would teach them to always think past self no matter what may be going on around them or is happening to them. When unsure of their course or direction as to what to do next we would teach them to sow, give away from self, be a blessing to someone, somewhere. God is faithful, and will always provide and take care of them. We would tell them to never fear or doubt, they will reap a harvest. 

 So often this is seen just through money, but those who are generous also have the best attitude in this life. This is because their hearts are generous and they are reaping a healthy disposition in life through their generous heart. Our children should be taught, “to live is to give”. Gaining in this life comes from giving away from self, not holding on to our lives or things we have. We need to convey the truth of being free from the love of things. We taught our children that God always meets  our needs and takes such wonderful, great care of us out of His generous heart.

 Look around you at the givers in this life, the ones who are always ready to serve, giving away from themselves and blessing others. Don’t they always come out on top? They always have such a great attitude in life because of their generous heart, that's because they exhibit the true heart of God. Later in life when our children are adults what do you want them to be known for, being selfish and stingy, or a generous heart that blesses? What kind of heart attitude do you want them to have? 

So if we were to raise our family again, we would teach them even more than we did the principle of sowing and reaping, not just with their money, but in all areas of life. We would devote more time into teaching them to have a big, generous heart, to be as the Bible states,  hilarious givers  of their time, energy, and resources. 

 

Chapter 12

BFF

We all know navigating relationships can be one of the most difficult areas to understand. People use us, offend us, reject us, and hurt us, even those we thought were close to us. Of course, as we go through life, there will be those that our actions or statements have hurt, rejected or offended in some way. Even if we did not mean to, many times this does not matter it still happens. How we handled this area as a child can still affect us as adults today.

There will be times through life that people will be close but then when certain life events take place they are nowhere to be found. Some even purposefully move on because you really don't have anything to offer them anymore, or they really didn't care about you anyhow. They only thought of themselves and had no thought of you. When you realize this, it definitely can hurt, but when you are a child this can be devastating. As a child this is where we begin to form our rules on how we will navigate relationships. This is a great place for parents to step in to help them form the right ones.

So many times our daughters would tell us how so and so next door and her were best friends. Then something would happen and our daughters would say they will never be their friend ever again. Then, of course, two days later they are playing and having fun together again as if nothing ever happened between them. They brush it off and move on.  If only it could be that way all our lives. But we know the reality is as we grow these things change. We change as our sphere of influence along with demographics change.

It is absolutely vital we teach our children how to navigate this area properly. We should help them understand what true friendship is, as well as how to be a friend to others, while knowing how to handle it when someone offends them, hurts or rejects them. When they have offended someone, we need to work with them on how to respond appropriately. We need to teach them how to apologize no matter the other person’s response because saying you are sorry and asking forgiveness is how to maintain their side of the relationship. We want the right Christian character growing in their hearts. 

It was exasperating at times with daughters in helping them  navigate through their relationships with friends because there is always someone’s feelings getting hurt. As their mother I began to feel like I had become the judge, jury, prosecuting attorney and defense attorney in order to help them. I sat down with them and we would look at it together and discuss what was the biblical response and then encourage them to act accordingly.

So often we meet people who, because they did not learn to navigate this area, have mistrust, they are either hurt or bitter and really don't have true friends or have friends at all. Many times this is simply because they have been hurt or rejected and don't want this to ever happen to them again. The end result is never letting anyone close. How many times as adults we meet people who wear their hurts or labor under a spirit of rejection. How many times we meet people who say “I will never trust them again,”  or “forget them I am not going to do anything for them”,“Why should I go out of my way for them”. They have set certain rules on how to handle or absorb relationships, based on past hurts or rejections. They are totally bound up inside. They are not free to be a friend to others or free to have good friends because of these fears. But mainly it’s because they never learned or were never taught the right principles in this area. Our children need to know that true friendship is just as much about forgiving a person as it is about loving them. Teaching our children the right values in this area should be a high priority. Children need to know how to maintain the standard God wants in being a friend while guarding their heart when they are hurt by others. They need to know how to be a friend no matter what the other person decides to do in the relationship. Now don’t misunderstand us, we are not referring to people who are not good influences on our children. We would never encourage them to hang out with bad people. But we do want them to have basic knowledge of how to love your neighbor no matter what. It is so easy to just drop a relationship when someone hurts, rejects or offends us.  We need to be thankful Jesus didn’t do this with us. Think about it, Jesus told Peter,  “You are going to betray me, but I have prayed that you will come through this”. There can be no question about it, Jesus shows it can be done.

We felt it important to keep an open home to our children and their friends. This is one of the best ways to get to know who their friends are and be assured the environment is a good one. We decided early on that we would rather have our house used and abused than have our kids hang out in places we were not sure we could trust. It meant our house was a bit more messy and chaotic at times but it was a great decision for our family. It actually offered a way for us to speak into situations with our children and their friends that we may not have had the chance to do otherwise. 

With our six children and all their friends you can imagine how active our house was. We were the hangout for the neighborhood. There were literally times when some of their friends stayed all day and even the night. Some were there so much we would ask them what we should fix for dinner and that’s what we would have. We gave many of them nicknames, because the truth was we couldn't keep up with their real names. Sadly we knew some of them did not have the best life at home and that's why they loved to hang out at our house. We would buy large quantities of snack foods.  Invariably some of them knew when we got home with the goods and would ask, “Did you get any of those cheese balls or animal crackers”, which were ranked  the top two favorites. As a result of opening our home our children learned the value of hospitality and making people feel welcome. Our children were able to see us being friends to their friends. We wanted to teach them what true friendship is all about, having a friend and being a friend. We established a standard with our home environment of making people feel comfortable and welcome. Once I came home,  everyone was outside, I walked from the door to our kitchen and there stood a little girl with the refrigerator door open staring inside. Now I did not recognize her and it was obvious when she saw me she didn't recognize me as well. There was this brief awkward moment I looked at her and she looked at me, a little intimidated and said, “Anna (my daughter) said I could get some apple juice.” I instantly said sure let me help you with that and proceeded to get a cup and pour her some juice, making her feel welcome. 

Our children went through seasons of loneliness at times. We had to be the ones to comfort, encourage, and help them through it. We would often tell them, friends come and go but you will always have your family. We encouraged them to be friends with their siblings. We also told them they are never friendless as long as they have Jesus. Those friendless times are truly just seasons.  Helping our children through loneliness is important because they need your wisdom to navigate through their feelings. Otherwise they can become needy forming the wrong attachment to the first person that's friendly or shows attention toward them. Or they can become introspective and think there is something wrong with them, this is why they need to know it is just a season.

One of our daughters went through a season of loneliness more than the other girls, and she reminded us the other day that she has reaped a huge harvest of friends. She really does have quite a few friends and they are good ones too. But during that time of having what seemed like no friends at all, she learned to appreciate friendship and she learned how to be a good friend to others. Knowing how to be ourselves first, while allowing people to feel comfortable is part of being a friend and is the key for successful relationships.

There have been people who have walked with us as christians, and then they left God. We knew they were not living right which made it hard to keep the same relational flow with them. It became challenging to remain their friend regardless of their actions. We would even tell them, “We don’t agree with your life choices but we are here and will always be your friend.  Our children have seen us many times maintain our side of a friendship even when the others have not reciprocated the same. As we mentioned before, even though we cannot agree with friend’s choices and will not participate in them, we will still remain their friend. We will still be there for them if possible. 

As we get older we realize relationships come and go, friends come and go, sometimes never to be heard of again. However at the end of our lives how many friends did we make and how many friendships did we maintain? If you showed up at their door, having not seen them for some time, would you still be considered a friend? 

Knowing how to stay whole and healthy, mentally and spiritually through this area is where a parent really needs to work with their child. We want them to understand how to have a friend and be a friend, making a person feel welcome and comfortable around them. They also need our help to understand in Christ how to guard their hearts when a person has selfishly used them, rejected them or willfully hurt them. So yes, if we were to raise our children again we would spend more time with them in the area of relationships.