15 Things You Should Tell Your Kids

People say that marriage is God’s way of magnifying your flaws. You may have heard the phrase, “Marriage isn’t only to make you happy, but also to make you holy.” I agree with this sentiment, but I have to say that nothing has given me a kick in the butt of self-evaluation and conviction like becoming a parent.

Kids repeat everything you say. More than that, they remember everything you say, whether they tell you or not.  A parent has more power in their tongue to build up or tear down than anyone else on earth. Daily, I can choose to bless my children with my words or curse them. It seems like practicing the former would be a simple choice, but you’d be surprised at how much God has had to train my tongue since I became a mom.

I can think of things my parents said (or didn’t say) that greatly affected me. I never want to abuse this power or fail to speak life to my kids. With that said, here are 15 Things You Should Tell Your Kids…

1. I love you (say this one often and always).

2. I’m proud of you.

3. Sex is awesome…in the context of marriage.

4. Mommy and daddy love each other.

5. Mommy and daddy will always be married.

6. I don’t care if you sweep streets or pick up trash for a living, as long as you love Jesus and love others.

7. Being smart is great, but I really care about your character.

8. You actually can’t be anything you want, but you can be great at something.

9. Satan is real...

10. …but, so is Santa Claus.

11. Love is a verb, not a noun (Then live this one out).

12. I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?

13. You can always, no matter what, tell me anything.

14. God loves you more than I ever could.

15. I might mess up, I might fail you, but God never will.

What would you add to the list? What did your parent say to you that is burned in your brain? What do you wish they had said? What do you wish they hadn’t said?

29 thoughts on “15 Things You Should Tell Your Kids”

  1. Beautiful! And amen to # 3. Most sex-ed in evangelical culture is, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Okay, you’re married now, so have it it . . . but not too much.”

    1. Agreed, Travis. Evangelicals seem to tend to be about a thousand times more concerned with keeping folks from having sex at the wrong point on the timeline, as opposed to being concerned with making sure they have awesome sex when it IS the right point on the timeline.

    1. Matt,
      My mother-in-law used to tell my husband something similar. My husband is an extreme extrovert, so as a kid when he saw other groups of kids, he would get glossy-eyed and crazy excited. As a result, he was much more susceptible to peer pressure or just going along with the crowd. His mom used to say to him when she was dropping him off, “Be Godly, not cool.” He knew exactly what she meant and like your friend, it made an impression on him.

  2. My favorite is the line, “You can be great at something.” I think that’s a good way of countering the messages of “You’re special, you can do anything…” blah, blah, blah. We were created to do certain things quite well, and if we fail, that’s because we’re still sorting out the process. Being told you can do anything is a recipe for disillusionment. Helping someone find his/her calling is far more helpful and it creates a healthy way to discuss dead ends and failures along the way.

    1. Ed,
      So well said. I love that you said: “Being told you can do anything is a recipe for disillusionment.” Man, that is so good and so true. I so want to encourage my kids in the things they are excellent at doing and not ever make them feel like they are invincible. God is invincible, not us.

  3. Great list Nicole!

    The only one i would disagree on would be number 10…lol…
    I just can’t bring myself to tell them that Santa clause is real…

    I really, really ,really like the…being smart is great…but not everything! Your character has to be good…learn to be a good person…

    We tell my little 5 year old this all the time…she thinks at like a 2nd 3 grade level…and sometimes…she gets a little smarty pants snoby…so…we have to talk to her often to be nice and not roll the eyes!!!! I know!!! she acts like she is 15! LOL!!

    God Bless You Nicole!

    1. Arny,
      Ha! I Know the Santa Claus thing is a personal issue for people..so funny. I won’t lie to my kids. If they ask, I’ll tell them Santa isn’t real, but I also won’t do anything to ruin the magical wonder of the time they are little and don’t know the difference.

      And oh man, my daughter is 5 too and she is exactly like that too! She is a teenager trapped in a 5 year old’s body. it is both frustrating and hilarious.

      Thanks for commenting Arny!

  4. Hi, Nicole. I’ve been lurking around your blog the last few days and even linked to one of your posts on my blog today. I just love so many of your posts. They really make me think, and I found myself nodding a ton.

    Re: the above list, I won’t lie to my children about Santa, but I still have one who hasn’t come out and asked me if he really exists. My older child knows that I believe in the magic of Santa Clause (aka the magic of the season), but that the magic actually comes from the hope of Jesus. Santa’s just a fun symbol of the holidays.

    Unfortuantely, my parents didn’t say many of the things on your list, which just makes me have to try a little bit harder not to stumble with the words I use with my children. I have to practice that much harder. Great list!

  5. I’m pretty psyched about having a girl, planning to tell her she’s beautiful constantly and take her out on dates. Other than that, I will definitely keep this list you made, because it’s great!

    My wife is sort of concerned about having kids (for me) because she knows in her heart I will troll the living day lights out of those kids.

    Worse case scenario: They are forever scarred by my antics and develop anxiety problems.

    Best case scenario: They become master trolls by attempting to troll me back.

    Honestly, my wife doesn’t realize that with kids, I can troll her through them. Troll within a troll! Troll-ception!

    1. I’m pretty sure she meant it as a joke.

      Also, Jonathan will be Santa (cue I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa song), imagine the fun those kids will have trying to catch “Santa” in the act and Jonathan gets to be ninja-dad and place presents under the tree while avoiding detection.

      This is awesome advice.

    2. Ashley,
      Well, I was “lied” to about Santa and I think I turned out okay. As I wrote to another reader in a comments here, I would never lie to my kids. If they asked me point-blank if Santa were real, I would answer them truthfully. However, I don’t side with Christians who think that pretending Santa exists (ie receiving gifts from him or visiting him for a picture and to deliver your toy list) is somehow negligent or the equivalent of lying to one’s child.

      I prefer to be intellectually honest and acknowledge that play, imagination, and the magic of Christmas, which Santa clearly represents is not untruthful or harmful. I don’t think many adults are sprawled out across sofas spilling their guts to a psychologist about the emotional trauma that was caused by their parents support of Saint Nick. (As an aside, Santa was a real person).

      I never state that belief in him is “essential,” but I like the idea of kids being allowed to, go figure…be kids.

  6. Man what good list. Kids really appreciate the openness and vulnerability of parents as people. Clearly you must exercise caution when to be vulnerable so you don’t yank their security out from under them but being real has almost never been bad for me with my kids.

    Thanks for the post.

  7. I was just talking with a friend this week. He is actuall 77 years old. He tols me he distinctly remembers being a young boy, laying in bed at night and hearing his parents laugh together. It always made him feel good and secure that all was ok at home. It was a good reminder of the importance and power of a good laugh.

    1. Suzie, I love that story. Wow. It seems like such a simple thing, but two parents creating an environment where their children know that mom and dad are friends and are in love has so much influence on a child.

      I’m going to remember that one. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I would only add to not just focus on teaching your kids about following rules, but also teach them about grace. My sister did this through Santa (as well as telling them face-to-face). They were concerned that because they weren’t perfect they would be on the naughty list. It was a great time to talk to her kids about what grace is and that we should both dole it out and receive it when we make mistakes. Santa also reiterated this in his note to the kids.

    This is especially a concern with the oldest child who is all about the rules! She is the “little mommy” to the other kids. She was even like that with me-she tattle-taled on me to her mom that me and my boyfriend kissed (a peck) and we weren’t engaged! LOL. It was funny!

  9. I Loved this post- I always learn so much from you. Some things I remember my own parents saying that stuck with me are:

    -My MOM telling me in the morning when I would come wake her up in bed, “How is it possible that you got MORE beautiful overnight?” I think we hear a lot about how important it is for women to hear that they are beautiful from their father’s but it was also crucial for me to hear it from my mom-to know that this feminine beautiful woman I adored, thought I was beautiful too was powerful.

    -My Dad always told me that I gave the BEST HUGS, and he couldn’t wait to hug me each day because I was better than anyone at giving hugs!

    -My Dad always adored my mom TO US, so he would constantly say, “Carrington, look at your Mom’s hands, doesn’t she just have the most beautiful hands? Look at her perfect skin, and how lovely she is.”

    -My Mom was never afraid to be affectionate to my Dad- I remember her crawling in his lap as he watched TV, hanging around his neck and cuddling in. As a teenager I thought it was gross, but I never once doubted or felt afraid that they would break up.

    As far as the Santa thing- I didn’t really appreciate the comment above that was meant to shame you- that’s super rude.

    But to her point, the post is titled “things you should TELL your kids” and you added to the list “Santa is real”- so one could assume that means you TELL your kids that Santa is real- which then you defended by saying that you never flat out tell them that Santa is real. I am not anti-santa, or believe that you can’t allow your kids to make believe (like some people that won’t allow Disney, Harry Potter, etc… in the mix). We chose to tell our kids that Santa wasn’t real because their questions became too much- about where he came from, when he was coming, how did he get into our home, etc… We told them that Santa was a fictional story that is really fun to pretend at Christmas time. And we tell them each year about the real St. Nick, and where the story of Santa came from- because there is so much to learn from him! So, just as they know that Disney princess are pretend, they know Santa is pretend. We don’t buy Santa things, or give them presents from Santa, not because we are anti-santa, but because we want them to focus on Jesus, and not how our culture has turned everything into being about Santa bringing them presents. The question shouldn’t be whether we are harming them by “lying to them about Santa” but about whether we are missing opportunities to guide their little eyes to Jesus (IMO), Christmas is such an awesome time that gives us so much opportunity to teach them about Jesus.

  10. My dad told I was beautiful when I was well into my twenties. The first time I heard him say it felt like it made up for all the times he did not. I was crying tears of joy when I got home.

    So yes, dads, please tell your daughters they are beautiful. It will mean the world to them.

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