Clean Up Your Toys & Other Life Lessons

Clean Up snip

For several months now, I’ve been doing Cross Fit. It’s a form of fitness that involves things like Burpees, Double Unders, Snatches, Box Jumps, lots of acronyms, and many other fun-sounding (yet quite challenging things). In Cross Fit, you use your body weight but also use bands, kettle bells, barbells, weights, and more. You warm up, follow a routine (called a WOD: Workout of the Day), and then it’s suddenly over; But it’s not. I was amazed the first time I watched what happened next. Without being told (or asked), everyone hurriedly put away their weights and other items used during the WOD.

This reminded me of how the lessons we teach our children when they are very young can stick with them for life. When children are old enough to play with toys, (hopefully) parents teach their children put their toys away once their usefulness has ended. We teach them to keep toys in designated places, and to clean up their rooms. At the time, this can help Mom and Dad have a little more sanity in a world of chaos, but it also teaches a valuable lesson, which evidently carries through to people many decades older. I wonder if my Cross Fit colleagues hear an internal parent’s voice say Clean up your toys at the end of each WOD.

While parents have many things that they deliberately teach their children (like cleaning up toys), I have a growing concern for what Christian parents aren’t teaching their children. Daily, society tells us what to think about various things. We learn society’s lessons through what our colleagues say, what we hear on the news, and what is trending in social media. We learn society’s lessons through social norms and how people discuss hot topics. One popular lesson is that we should condone whatever behavior a person feels is right for him/her. It tells us that there are only a few things that are right or wrong (like murder, rape, stealing) but that most other things fall in a gray area. Society tell us to go along with what the crowd is doing and not to speak against social norms.

This may be slightly different from place to place, but to see this principle at work, all someone has to do is to speak (or write) a different opinion from something that society condones. That person will be quickly shut down, accused of being judgmental or closed-minded, or called all sorts of names. I have found that even I am a bit hesitant to share my views on on hot topics (which are biblically based) since I have (and will) immediately receive negative feedback from friends on social media. What happens is that those (like me) with views different than society begin to be quiet, and the voice of society becomes louder.

I am a grown woman, and I am hesitant to speak up. Imagine what it must be like to be a child who is unsure of his/ her values. Society has a stance, which is often loud and outspoken. What if families have not discussed hot topics with their children, or have  neglected to teach Christian values at home? When parents have not deliberately taught Christian values at home, and society tells them what to think, who will they follow?

As Christian parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children Christian values. They will not  learn these values by osmosis. Just as we must deliberately train our children to clean up their toys (and how to do it), we must be deliberate about teaching them Christian values. Here are some steps to help you in this process:

  1. Learn who Jesus was and what he taught. Read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and/or John). Do this as a family or as individuals and then discuss what you learn. If we claim to be Christians, then we must follow the teachings of Jesus. How can we do what he said if we don’t know what he said?
  2. Learn what the Bible says about hot topics (sexual identity, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, materialism, abortion, religious freedom, etc.). There are Bible apps, commentaries, dictionaries, and websites that allow you to look up key words. Be sure to read the verses surrounding the one containing the key words. It’s important to note what was going on in the stories before and after to make sure that we understand the context correctly.
  3. Read and listen to trusted Christian authors and pastors to assess biblical precedents. Click here for a great resource.
  4. Consider your views about hot topics and see if your views match up to society or to biblical values.
  5. Speak to mature Christians about how they raised their children with Christian values. Ask for tips on how to begin and continue conversations.
  6. Talk to your children about conversations with their friends, what they see/hear on social media, and discussions in class to assess hot topics and areas that you may need to address.
  7. Begin the conversation. Remember to always keep topics developmentally appropriate and to assume that your children likely know (or have heard of) more than you think they do. Remember to always speak lovingly about people and to distinguish the person from the behavior. It’s important to let your children know where your values come from (the Bible/teachings of Jesus) and why you follow them (Christians follow the teachings of Jesus).
  8. Be sure to tell your children that when they have conversations with others, it’s okay to share their views. It’s okay to have a different opinion from society, although their opinion may be dismissed. Remind them to be gentle as they speak, distinguishing a person from his/her behavior and to tell why they believe what they do. (e.g.: Since I’m a  Christian, I follow teachings of Jesus.). It’s also a good idea to practice having these conversations with your children.  Role play.

It’s a difficult time to be a parent. Traditional values are no longer popular. However, traditional does not mean old-fashioned. What Jesus taught thousands of years ago is still pertinent today. Our job, as parents, is to teach our children Christian values and to equip them with tools to live their lives in such a way that honors these values.

In this way, when our children find themselves in a situation where they must choose right from wrong, our children will have the knowledge to choose the right way. When it’s time to make a choice, they will hear your voice saying Clean up your toys, or (even better), Act like Jesus.