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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to Teach Kids Values

by Pete Codella (bio)

Photo by matt2rubin.

I'm stretched way too thin. Life is hectic, frenetic and chaotic.

My wife and I are lucky to have a date night once a month. Our family eats together about half of the time. The rest of the time we're too busy and doing separate things at dinner time. We have breakfast together, hurriedly get ready for our day, have family prayer, and then we're off and running. Each day feels like a race - all part of a never-ending marathon that makes even the most simple things, like what happened two days ago, a complete blur.

And I feel like we're raising technology-aided, lackadaisical kids who take no thought - or at least very little thought - about the value of people, situations and things. They're entitled. And I guess we enable the entitlement.

For a while now I've advocated that we forgo all Christmas gifts and instead travel to a different country where things are simple and less complicated. Where shelter, food and water are the focus of the day. I long for the opportunity to have my family experience a different reality. But perhaps in my desire I expose the hypocrisy of such a charity trip while we comfortably settle in the abundance of our new home in a modern, convenient city.

I wish my kids valued hard work. I wish they were grateful for all that their progenitors have made possible for them to receive and benefit from. I wish they were kind to one another, to their parents and grandparents.

Is this too much to ask?

Is this perspective only gained with experience and age?

Perhaps no 11 and 7 year-olds can have such a perspective. Perhaps no American child in 2013 can have such a perspective. Maybe I'm being completely unrealistic. And with all the hustle and bustle I feel like the time to teach them, through example and experience - not just words - is running out.

So here's my question: How do you raise kids with good Christian values like respect, integrity and morality? What things do you do to help them understand we're all in this experience together to work and develop characteristics that bring us closer to God, and not closer to any other thing, place, person or accomplishment?

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