What Should We Teach Our Kids?

Last Thursday was a snow day in our school district. There wasn’t much snow, mind you, but it doesn’t take much to close Portland, Oregon area schools. But then on Friday the weather was better so school was back open.

My son’s school operates on an A-day/B-day schedule, so that he has 4 classes each alternating day. We did not get any notice that they had changed Friday from an A-day to a B-day because of the missed school day, so my son schlepped his huge stack of A-day books with him; but on the bus all the other kids said it was a B-day, which meant he had the wrong books.

He called me to ask if I would bring his B-day books and drop them off in the office on my way to work, and I said I would. Then he said, “What am I going to do with all the books I don’t need today?” I said he should leave them in the office and I would pick them up when I dropped off the others.

I mentioned this to a friend at work, and she told me about how when her kids were in school she was always told by the teachers that if her kids forgot a book or their lunch she shouldn’t take it to them. They should have to suffer the natural consequences of their forgetfulness or else they would never learn to be independent. I’ve heard the same thing from teachers in the past.

Personally, I think that’s just stupid. I would much rather teach my son that we are all connected and that we should help one another when we are in need. What kind of lesson do we teach if, when they are in need, and we say, “Too bad for you. I’m not going to help.”? My friend at work agreed, and said she had always ignored the teachers’ advice. Her kids are now well-adjusted and independent adults in college.

I have been very happy with how my son is doing, as well. He is a thoughtful, caring young man who regularly thinks of others. He doesn’t take my helpfulness in a situation like his book dilemma for granted and just willy-nilly forget things so I have to bring them to him all the time. This is only the third time all school year that I’ve had to drop something off for him. And just to prove how appreciative he is, here’s the post-it note I found on the stack of books I picked up for him:

I smiled all day thinking of that nice post-it note. And I smile whenever I see him offering to help even strangers in need.

So what is more important to teach our children? To be independent and disconnected from others? Or to allow themselves to sometimes depend on others and likewise be willing to help those in need? I have always chosen to focus on the latter lesson, and I have never regretted it.

I will teach all your children,
      and they will enjoy great peace.
 You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.
      Your enemies will stay far away.
   You will live in peace,
      and terror will not come near.
Isaiah 54:13-14 (NLT).

About Linda Kruschke

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.
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8 Responses to What Should We Teach Our Kids?

  1. Ann says:

    Thank you, Linda

    I pondered your questions:
    “So what is more important to teach our children? To be independent and disconnected from others? Or to allow themselves to sometimes depend on others and likewise be willing to help those in need? ”
    and your thoughts:
    “He is a thoughtful, caring young man who regularly thinks of others. He doesn’t take my helpfulness in a situation like his book dilemma for granted and just willy-nilly forget things so I have to bring them to him all the time.”

    I think you did a great job in raising a wonderful gentleman. Praying that the things He’s taught in His youth will remain with Him in the times He’s away from home and that He will grow up to be a “well-adjusted and independent adult…” to the glory of God.

    Blessings upon you and your household.
    ann

    • Ann, Thank you for such a nice and thoughtful comment. I have tried to raise my son to love God and to be a good kid, but I can’t take all the credit. God blessed him with a wonderful personality and creative talents. I’ve just tried to encourage the good that I see in him. Peace, Linda

  2. Debbie says:

    I’m so glad that you could be there for him and help like that. 🙂 I think it’s just those kind of things that make him and other children into the thoughtful caring young adults we want to see them be. It is not about every man for himself and too bad, so sad. I understand what that school was trying to say and with the volumes of students and parents, they can’t think individually so well. But, God knows each ones situation and gives parents like you the discernment to see when a child just made a mistake and needs a little help.
    With Aubrey, well, the school pushed independence a lot. I understood, but knew for her, it just wasn’t going to be. . .that by making that the main focus, we were hurting her more than teaching her. Sometimes independence can be over-rated.. .over done. Thinking of how dependent I am on Jesus!!! ha!
    God bless you and your today!

    • Deb, Thank you for pointing out that we are all dependent on Jesus – that in that sense independence really is overrated! And we moms really do know our own kids individual personalities and needs better than the school ever can. I’m glad my son’s school now doesn’t take a position on stuff like this; it’s up to the parents what to do. Peace, Linda

  3. Linda says:

    “Suffer the natural consequences of their forgetfulness…”

    I’m so glad Jesus came so my sins would be forgiven. Whether it’s A-day, B-day, or any other day, I make alot of mistakes, step on toes, say the wrong thing. I forget things, too.

    Maybe those moms could leave a Post-it note that says, “You’re the best and don’t forget your books.”

  4. bendedspoon says:

    Last month we had a meeting in my eldest daughter’s school. The administrator announced that parents are no longer allowed to leave things for the kids for their own safety — because they have no way of knowing if what is left is a bomb. Huh that extreme? Maybe that’s their way of convincing parents that it’s for the best.

    I see nothing wrong bringing something for the kids on a few occasions because even us adults sometimes forget too. It’s one way of showing that we care and support them. However, habitual forgetfulness and dependence on things that they should be doing is a different story. We can’t be there for them forever and do things for them.

    And yes, kiddos can be very appreciative of little things and that makes our day!
    🙂

    • Rea, that does seem a tad extreme, but that seems to be the way schools are going these days for safety reasons. It’s much different than when I was a kid.

      I agree that we cannot enable habitual forgetfulness or laziness, but to suggest that a parent should “never” take a forgotten item in for a kid (or in my son’s case a mix-up on what day it was) seems misplaced. It’s like mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. There is no room for individual circumstances. And little room for teaching helpfulness, kindness, mercy, and compassion. Peace, Linda

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