Has one of your kids ever blatantly lied to you? Has one deliberately chosen to disobey you?
It is SUCH a crummy feeling when they do because you’re like, “Are you kidding me? After all I’ve done for you, you’re gonna act like this?”
If you can relate, it may be time to create your official ‘Family Values’ to get everyone on the same page.
Our daughter was a freshman in high school the first time she looked me directly in the eyes and lied. And honestly, I took it hard.
I felt like Rod and I had gone waaaaaaaay out of our way to create a positive healthy family environment. A sanctuary of a home where all of us could be open and authentic with each other.
I don’t know about you but my parents were old school! There wasn’t a lot of discussion or conversations or dialogue about anything. There weren’t ‘timeouts’… nor was I encouraged to ‘use my words’ or speak with an ‘indoor voice.’ It was more like getting lots of glares when we were misbehaving. Yeah… if we played too loudly we were told to knock it off and stop acting like a bunch of savages. Period.
I wanted my family environment to be different.
Now don’t get me wrong, both our families were spot on when it came to teaching us the importance of a strong work ethic. And I’m totally thankful we weren’t encouraged to have ‘overinflated’ self-esteems. Mediocracy wasn’t celebrated but it wasn’t completely discouraged either. Yay.
I guess the one thing I wanted to be different with my kids was that I wanted them to grow up feeling a bit more understood. I never wanted to be the push-over, ‘friend’ type of parent. That’s dangerous and breeds all kinds of reckless behavior. But I DID want to be the kind of parent that was a bit more understanding and a lot more respectful during times of conflict.
I wanted my child’s heart.
Now in all honestly… I was a parent’s worst nightmare! The first time I got suspended from school I was in fifth grade. I had a rebellious heart and I was very angry. I wanted to be the kind of mom who would UNDERSTAND those kind of things.
That was, of course, until my darling daughter’s beautiful eyes gazed into my beautiful eyes and she point-blank deceived me. She deliberately lied about make-up work being completed after an absence. (How naive! With all the school portals allowing parents to access a teachers grade book at a moment’s notice…. are you kidding me, kid?)
Bottom Line: I felt so disrespected.
After all the unconditional love… after all the concern… after all the sacrificing, you are going to disrespect ME, little girl?
It’s hard. The whole parenting thing is hard.
So. I laid into her. (I know, I know, it was the wrong move, I was just so mad.)
I literally got in her face, pointed my finger and told her, “There are a lot of things our family does but the one thing we NEVER EVER EVER do is lie to one another. Do you understand? Never. No matter what Cora!”
But the thing is, she didn’t understand.
She didn’t know about the debilitating past her dad and I had back in our B.C. (before Christ) days. She had heard our testimony countless times but she didn’t know specific details regarding the infidelity, deception, and lies that bred horrible insecurity, jealousy, and pain. She didn’t know that the one thing we vowed when we committed our lives to Christ was NO MORE LIES.
Here is the one area where we ALL do our family members a huge disservice:
We don’t regularly define and communicate our expectations of one another.
I can’t begin to tell you how many couples we’ve counseled in marriage ministry that have this very dynamic at the core of their family issues!
We have got to clearly communicate our expectations to our children. If we don’t, we constantly encounter conflict with them. My biggest mistake is not doing this back when our 2 boys were younger. Dang. That was an epic fail. We just didn’t know all of this back then. Sigh.
Creating a list of Family Values is especially important if you are going to live for Christ.
A family that lives for Christ looks very different than a family that lives for themselves. There are so many things that a Christ-centered family does not participate in… and there are many things that a Christ-centered family does participate in.
When your family is different than other families, you have got to create your family values. Otherwise your kids don’t know where they stand, and that leads to confusion and anger and resentment.
“Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.
Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)
The best Biblical example of communicating clear expectations is the Ten Commandments.
That’s the ultimate example of a list of clearly defined Family Values! God simply explains His expectations to His children. Not a lot of room for confusion, am I right?!?
After the lying incident with our daughter, we realized that in our case, our family may look like other Christian families but in reality we are pretty unique.
Every family has their own history! Our family has our own special unique past, and because of our unique past, we live differently in the present.
How we respond specifically to life is called personal convictions.
We all have personal convictions because there are some things that just aren’t specified in the Bible. Let me give you an example.
We have heard we are to teach the ways of God to our children:
“You must love the LORD your God
and obey all his requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands.”
Deuteronomy 11:1 (NLT)
“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine.
Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.
Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home
and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NLT)
Okay. Got it! But here’s my question: After we talk about the ways of God at home, and while driving, and at bedtime, and in the morning… how much screen time should should we allow our children?
Your specific answer is your personal conviction. When you’re within the statues of the Bible there isn’t technically any right or wrong answer. For example, some families never allow screen time during the school week. Some families only allow screen time after homework is done. Some families only allow a certain amount of screen time. See, everyone has different personal convictions based on the needs and limitations of their own family members
If you don’t clearly communicate your personal family values to your kids, how do they know how to behave?
It is so frustrating when someone expects something from you but doesn’t take the time to share that expectation? Grrrrrr.
You end up getting in trouble for stuff you didn’t even know was wrong.
We spent months and months (and months!) coming up with our personal family convictions. It’s kinda hard to discern on paper what your family stands for! And that’s my point, this is what MY family stands for. Your family may be quite different. And that’s okay.
OFFICIAL LOTT FAMILY VALUES:
Don’t let another day go by without figuring out your values AND sharing them with your kids! You can even use ours… or get creative and make your own list. Either way, just do it.
Once these macro family values are set-up, you can then add age appropriate guidelines.
This becomes INVALUABLE during the teens years were you find yourself dialoging about curfew, dating guidelines, chores, etc. In fact, I suggest sharing your expectations and guidelines at least 3 YEARS before they will become prevalent in your child’s life.
Kids are growing up earlier and earlier! A lot earlier than you think so if don’t want your daughter dating until she’s 16 years old, you start discussing it with her when she’s 13 years old so there is no misunderstanding 😉
Bottom line: You’ll never regret getting on the same page and establishing your family values but you will regret it if you don’t.