Once I was chatting with my sister-in-law about parenting, the choice to have children and how to raise them once they come to us. She admitted that she had to think long and hard about whether to have children or not, because of scary things in our world. Two kids later, she still struggles with this, and she’s not alone.
Additionally, many of us recognize that our current pop culture is not doing our children or our society any good. It often steers our children into harmful behavior. Violence, promiscuity, substance abuse, laziness, lack of personal responsibility, drama filled relationships – it’s all being glorified on the radio, movies, tv and internet. A lot of parents ask,
“How can we change the way the world is going? How can we raise our kids to be truly good adults who make the world a better place, when it seems like so much is against us?
Thankfully, there is an answer: Educate hearts.
The world is the way it is, because of the hearts of the people in it. Some people have not learned how to forgive, how to solve relationship problems, to value honesty, and to be kind. Often people may know these things are good in their minds, but it hasn’t penetrated into their hearts and actions.
So…how do we do this?
We often joke that we wish osmosis worked when it came to learning things in school. (It would have really come in handy when I was taking Chem 105 in college!) But did you know that osmosis DOES work in everyday life?
Want proof? It is everywhere around us:
- Parents who love Star Wars have kids who love Star Wars.
- Parents who wear cowboy boots and hats have kids who wear cowboy boots and hats.
- Business owners often have children who succeed them in the family business
- It is common to stay in the same social and economic strata into which we are born- unless we deliberately consume a different lifestyle and thought process.
- Copycat criminals are inspired by crimes they have studied and aspire to.
- Doesn’t it make sense that copycat lifestyles happen as well? One sad example is Lindsay Lohan crediting her extremely damaging promiscuous lifestyle to her favorite tv series “Sex in the City”. (Source)
Our kids are not immune to this (neither are we!). When we surround ourselves with something, we become it.
But the FABULOUS news is that as parents, we can use this to our advantage.
Just as we try to give our kids healthy food to eat and avoid junk food, for healthier bodies, we can also help them to consume healthy resources and entertainment over “junk food” entertainment, which will result in healthier hearts and souls.
As parents, we are in a unique and powerful position that can change the trajectory of our society. As the gatekeepers in our homes, when we use deliberate resources in our home and actively decide what our family culture will be: what WE will watch, what WE will read—activities we are already doing anyway, we CHANGE that culture. And when enough of us do that, we change the culture outside our homes as well. And it all starts with knowing what our children can accomplish.
I love this quote from F.W. Borham about the effect that children can have:
“A century ago [in 1809] men were following, with bated breath, the march of Napoleon, and waiting with feverish impatience for the latest news of the wars. And all the while, in their own homes, babies were being born. But who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles…
In one year between Trafalgar and Waterloo, there stole into the world a host of heroes! Gladstone was born at Liverpool; Alfred Tennyson was born at the Somersby rectory . . . Oliver Wendell Holmes made his first appearance at Massachusetts . . . and Abraham Lincoln drew his first breath at Old Kentucky. Music was enriched by the advent of Frederic Chopin at Warsaw, and of Felix Mendelssohn at Hamburg.
But nobody thought of babies. Everybody was thinking of battles. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809? We fancy that God can only manage His world by big battalions when all the while He is doing it by beautiful babies. When a wrong wants righting, or a work wants doing, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world to do it.”
(F. W. Boreham, Mountains in the Mist: Some Australian Reveries , 166-67, 170)
Your babies can change the world.
That means that YOU can change the world by how you decide to raise them. Children naturally respond to goodness. And you can help give them a vision of a world that THEY can help create.
But the good news is that you don’t have to do this parenting thing alone!
There are a lot of people who are tackling this job with you! One of my favorites is Richard and Linda Eyre of Values Parenting and the vision they have of excellent parenting. Their New York Times best-selling Teaching Your Children Values is a fabulous place to start.
But what I would like to encourage you to do today, is to just take the things you are already doing with your kids and just tilt it upwards a little bit.
The trick is to use fabulous, interesting resources that ALSO TEACH good lessons to your children, instead of watching the most recently released movie, or reading whatever their friends are reading. For example:
- Do you read to your children at night? Awesome. Read The Chronicles of Narnia or Little House on the Prairie to them instead of Captain Underpants or Diary of A Wimpy Kid. If you don’t read to them, maybe just suggest these books to them for their own reading, instead. They also make great gifts!
- Do you have a family movie night? Instead of watching the latest superhero movie, watch Forever Strong, where they can see a troubled boy make good choices and the difference it makes in him.
- What about birthday or Christmas presents? Pick gifts that help them develop a productive hobby instead of perhaps the latest action figure or video game.
We have so much support, so many mentors and so many teachers for our families that naturally fit into our lives, that we don’t even realize we have them!
When our kids get tired of listening to us, they can read Summer of the Monkeys and learn about how to treat siblings well and sacrifice for them; they can learn about gratitude and hard work from refugee and Sudan “lost boy” Lopez Lomong in a book called Running for My Life, and they will learn how to appreciate others with autism when they watch the Temple Grandin movie.
All of these little things add up.
They will change the culture of your home and they will change what your children see as “acceptable”. You will change for the better, and so will your kids, without any extra time or effort.
You CAN raise good kids in a crazy, scary world.
You CAN influence them for good. You CAN decide what the culture of your home will be, and you CAN raise children who will make the world a better, less scary place. I am excited to see you do it!
What teaching strategies have you seamlessly worked into your routine family life? We’d love to learn from you!
About the Author:
Jen Brimhall is the founder of www.RaiseTheGood.com, a gathering place of inspiring and curated resources for families. Come check out the countless book and movie recommendations, claim your free family night movie list, and learn about a ton of other resources that will make it EASY for you to teach your kids good character and how to have a happy life.