Friday, April 12, 2013


Besides teaching obedience and shepherding the heart, another aspect of parenting I’ve been reflecting on recently is Values, and the way they get communicated to our children. Whether we realize it or not.

It would be quite revealing to ask our kids: What makes Mommy (or Daddy) most upset? What makes Mommy most happy? What does Mommy mostly talk with other adults about? What does she discipline you for? Praise you for? Their answers would give us great insight into what we value.

Other questions that we can ask ourselves:
Do we praise our children more for their awards and accomplishments?
Or more for their character development and good effort?
Do we place more value on our children’s good appearance in public?
Or on their moral integrity when no one is looking?

When CJ was in Chinese first grade, we were horrified to hear that his best friend received a spanking at home one night after students’ test grades were announced because CJ (the foreigner) scored 1 point higher than him.

Clearly, his best friend’s parents valued high test scores. As well as the importance of scoring higher than the foreigner. And they used a spanking to prove their point.

We later found out that this friend’s father (who used to serve in the army) also highly valued loyalty.

After CJ got into a fight with one of his classmates at school, I overheard an unexpected conversation between his best friend’s father and his best friend as the four of us walked toward our homes through the market together:

“Were you involved in the fight today?”


“The next time your best friend is in a fight, you’d better fight alongside him. That’s what friends are for.”

So while we were hoping there wouldn't be a next time and were trying to address what was going on in CJ’s heart, emphasizing that conflict resolution is better worked out with words than fists, his best friend’s father was stressing the value of being a loyal friend—one who fights with him and for him, no matter what.

A couple of months ago, when we were with a group of our “foreign friends,” I enjoyed being around our friends' children.

I observed, with amusement, a 6-year old big sister asking a younger one, “Could you please just try to be kind?”
And I could tell that kindness is valued in her family.

I listened, with joy, to a 7-year old singing his heart out during worship time.
And I knew that worship is valued in his family. (And because his Dad was the worship leader, he knew the words to all the songs by heart.)

I overheard that a 6-year old told a 20-something that because she was shorter than most people, she was going to pray and ask God to help her adult friend grow some more. I just loved this faith-filled innocence!
And I was sure that prayer for healing was valued in her family.

Different families have different values.

What are your values and how are they expressed through you and through your children?
What do you hope to see your children develop as their own personal values?

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