If you’ve read my blog at all, you probably already know that I have 2 amazing little boys. Justice is almost three years old (where has the time gone?!?!) and Samuel is nearing 18 months. Justice has always been advanced for his age, showing remarkable maturity for such a young child. He surprises everyone with the depth of his questions and seems to easily grasp difficult and theoretical concepts. We feel blessed by Justice (and Samuel!) and are delighted by them every day.
Christopher and I have worked hard at developing good character qualities in our little guys, starting as soon as they became mobile. Here are the top three character qualities we’re working on instilling in our boys (and things I expect to see from Justice):
Obedience is an area where we try to be very consistent in our training of the boys. When I was pregnant with Samuel and couldn’t walk at times due to excruciating pain, I needed Justice to obey me. He was only around 18 months old at the time when we were house-sitting for some friends. They had a wood stove and although it was not in use, I made it off-limits for him to play with. That time of teaching and learning obedience served him (and I!) well when we moved into our own home where our only source of heat was a wood stove. He had learned (mostly) not to touch the wood stove when he really couldn’t get hurt on it much. He then didn’t need much additional training when the possibility of injury was present.
Christopher and I believe that obedience is at the root of everything we are teaching the boys at this point in their lives. Whatever they know to do or not do is through our instruction. If they are doing something naughty it’s usually because they’re being disobedient and playing with or doing something that they’ve been instructed not to. If they are fighting with each other, it’s because they’re choosing to disobey our instruction to play nicely together.
Even though I am a young mom, I encourage other moms to work on teaching obedience to their children from the youngest ages. Even though it can be very difficult to be consistent in this area, it will yield so much peace of mind later on.
If there’s one thing that will never be tolerated in our home, it is lying. Even at only two years old, we’ve had a few occasions when Justice has told us an untruth. It was dealt with swiftly and long talks have commenced as we strategize the best way to eradicate this problem early on.
But learning not to lie is only one aspect of truthfulness we want to teach our sons. There is also just being a truth-teller. We don’t want our sons to be men who will gloss over the truth to make someone feel better. Or say something only partly true because they think someone wants to hear a certain thing. We want our sons to be strong men who will speak the truth, even when it makes someone uncomfortable.
A while back, Christopher and I were under some stress and I yelled at my husband (something I try very hard not to do). Justice pointed out to me that I “shouldn’t yell at daddy”. That reminder was extremely convicting to me and prompted quick repentance and an apology on my part. I was glad that Justice told the truth – it brought healing in a tense situation.
Being a truth-teller doesn’t mean that the boys are being taught to spout off anything that comes into their little minds. There is a time and a place for everything!
When I began a home and family of my own, I became more grateful for the work ethic instilled in me by my parents. I can’t imagine how much of a burden motherhood and homemaking would be if I tended toward laziness. Now, because I was taught to love working hard, I find great joy in keeping my home and in being a mommy. (Don’t get me wrong…it’s not always sunshine and roses – sometimes I do desperately want a break!)
But hard work is one of the main character qualities that we’re teaching our boys. Again, it starts with the really little jobs – throwing away their own diapers, learning to put away their toys, etc. Now Justice is at the point where he (sometimes) looks around when we’re cleaning up and sees something that needs to be done. He’ll do that without being asked and my heart rejoices.
Working hard doesn’t mean that our little children aren’t allowed to play and have a carefree childhood. We absolutely encourage that! But after a hard day of play, they also work hard to clean up.
One way we are instilling the love of work into our boys is making work seem fun. There are certain jobs that children inherently love to do (emptying the dishwasher, helping wash the dishes, etc.) and we try to encourage those. But we also will not use work as a punishment of any kind. We want our children’s associations with work to be positive ones.
Character Qualities That Count
There is probably an endless list of character qualities that are important to teach our children. We have chosen these three to focus on at this point in our boys’ life. I really believe that children are only as good as their training makes them. Meaning that we as parents have an immense responsibility to train our children well.
Just because we’re focused on these three areas, doesn’t mean that we get it perfect all the time. I think that every parent has days when we are just tired. When we don’t want to do the work that consistency demands. Or times of trial (like during my pregnancy with Samuel). Parents certainly need to be able to give each other grace, but also to embrace it for ourselves.
Leave me a comment to let me know what character qualities you are working on in your children! Are they different from ours? Let me know!