How a culture of honor in a family can bring forth beautiful results part 1
Honoring – can this be a way to raise children?
Last week I told you in this Article how Honor is something that keeps our marriage strong. However, Honor is not only something that keeps our marriage strong; it’s also something that shapes our family, the way we interact with our children.
What does honor in that context mean?
Once a year, our village is in need of a waitress for a big annual event, I very much enjoy spending a couple of hours working in a restaurant, opened for this specific occasion. During these hours, I treat the visitors of this restaurant with that same “culture of honor” we carry inside our family. It is absolutely amazing to see how people flourish right before my eyes. They love me. Or better put – they love the way I treat them. They can feel the honor. They can feel that they are valuable in my eyes. And they respond with a smile, with telling me something about their lives – or with a big tip (no worry, that’s not why I treat them like that, as this dip doesn’t even go into my pockets). From my observation, everyone reacts to honor. Even more those who don’t “deserve” it. There are people treating waitresses like garbage. Or people being grumpy as a general way of life. Those people are the ones I see flourish right in front of my eyes. And I love it when that happens.
As you can see, this subject is something dear to me – and in this article I will try to describe how we apply a “culture of honor” inside our family. I will tell you about a couple of situations that happened in our home, a couple of points we diligently apply in our family culture. I will explain to you why we do what we do and how we see it work in our family.
One of the most important factors to honor our children, is to release them into their unique identity and destiny.
How can we do that? As you most probably are aware by looking at your own children, each child is unique. Your child may fit into our cultural or social norm – or your child may not really fit in after all. As I wrote in that article, labels may help us as parents to feel more safe or in control. However, the truth is that labels never meet with who your child really is. Those labels may be ADD, autism, hypersensibility and many more. I have friends who have to cope with children who fit into those labels. I am not saying that there is no such thing. What I am saying is, these names are not, what defines, who they truly are. This is not their God given identity. This is not their destiny. And to lead them into their God given identity, their destiny – this is what this article is all about. Let’s see about other labels we can give to our children, due to their actions and attitudes.
There was a time in our family, when our 5 year old was lying on every occasion. I didn’t know what to do. I knew I hated it. I knew I didn’t want to have a child lying. It goes against all our values and norms we have in our family. My sister, who is a professional in education with great knowledge, gave me some insights (in another article I will write more about what I learned about this subject) in how to handle such a situation wisely and we tried the following: One day, our kids got m&m’s for dessert. We told them that each one of them was allowed to take 12 m&m’s. After a while this specific child asked us:
I only had 6, can I take six more?
Benny and I knew that this wasn’t true, as we had observed the situation while we were talking together. We asked her:
“You only had 6?”
“Yes,” she answered.
We told her:
“Well, we trust you, of course you can have more if you only had six.”
She looked at us, hesitating. When Benny saw her hesitation, he gave her six more, telling her:
“Here you go. Enjoy your m&m’s, sweetie. We know you are a trustworthy person.”
She looked at us. One could see that she was struggling veeery much to eat those six m&m’s. You may ask why we didn’t confront her, when she was lying to us. Well, we confronted her with our trust. We gently led her into her real identity. We knew her identity wasn’t a “lyer”. We refused to let her behavior determine who she was. We refused to shame her, to punish her or tell her how her heart was sinful and how she needed to repent. After this situation, her lying got very rare. Another time, we were catching her lying about something small, and we told her:
“You know, it is very important to tell the truth. We know who you are. We trust you. But in kindergarten, if you lie few times, you will get the label of a “liar”. That would be really difficult for you, won’t it?”
She nodded, and answered:
“Yes, we have a girl in our kindergarten who lies very frequently.”
“and is it easy for you to trust her, even if she tells the truth?”
she hesitantly answered.
“You see, the same goes for you. Therefore, for your own shake, it is much better to always tell the truth, even if it might get you in trouble from time to time. We love you, and we know who you are. We can handle the truth, and we promise that we will never determine you by errors or mistakes you make.”
At this point, she understood she owned that problem and it was her own responsibility to solve it. And it was the end of her lying habit.
Many well-meaning Christian parents (and some well-meaning Christian children-experts) handle these kinds of situations with a scripture in mind like:
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5
“The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” Psalm 58:3
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. “Proverbs 22.15
Those parents (and those books about child raising) see children as sinful creatures who need correction, implemented consequences and harshness to lead them to the right path.
You can imagine by yourself how I would have handled that whole situation above if this was how I see my children. (And I am convinced that this specific child would not have become who she is today)
But let me ask you a question:
When you, as an adult person (supposingly full of maturity and self-control) do something wrong in your adult life – what is it that brings you back to the right thing?
Does a label (like in that story above –”you are a sinful liar”),
a punishment (you can’t have any m&m’s for the next year)
or any kind of accusation (your heart is so sinful and you’re a bad person) help a person struggling with an issue help her out of it?
Or does the trust, the heart connection with the other person, the reminder of who you truly are and you owing the problem lead you into transformation and freedom? You see, labels limit, define the child. Labels teach them “learned helplessness”. The child has no control over those labels, as they determine who they are. Have you ever tried to interact with a spouse, a boss, a teacher or a pastor ect. who treated you with any label? Who determined you after your achievements, actions, errors or failures? In my experience, this is no place of freedom, no place where you feel free to change, to grow, to flourish and to have this desire to give my best.