Am I Raising Judgmental Kids?

As I’m soldiering through these tween years, I have a new respect for mommas who’ve raised well-balanced, know right-from-wrong adults who also have a deep, true genuine love for everyone.

It’s not easy. Here’s how this has played out in our house:

We teach them our core values. The things we want to stick. The things we think are decision-making foundations. Things that are important to us.

We repeat them over and over. We model them. We use our own past mistakes to try and teach them why we want them to do better than we did.

Here are a few important values for our family:

Sex is a gift for marriage. Wait until you’re married, it will be safe and enjoyable.

Respect your body. God created you and lives in you. Don’t use drugs, show too much skin, etc. Protect your mind and heart from destructive stuff (including images on screens).

Persevere. Don’t quit. Follow the dreams God puts in your heart. Work hard. Don’t ever be lazy.

Integrity. Don’t do the right thing for recognition. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing. Even if you stand alone, stand up for the right thing.

They eventually get it. You notice it in their behavior. You hear them repeating one of your statements. Those core values are engrained in their little hearts. It’s black and white. There are no shades of gray (sorry, I couldn’t resist). This is right, that is wrong.

Then, they see things. They hear things. And some of it doesn’t match our family values.

Our trying-to-figure-it-out tween says, “You know my friend at church? She showed me an inappropriate picture on her phone. Should I still be her friend?”

“When I saw the news today, the singer I love with that cute new song was wearing an outfit that showed a lot of skin. Now, I don’t even know if I like that song.”

And, here comes the judgment.
(*By the way, I altered those scenarios to protect my tween and the other parties involved.)

They’re learning to make decisions based on our core family values and when others don’t follow those same rules, they start to judge.

This is what I’ve discovered in my mothering journey: the talk that happens next is equally as important as instilling those core values. Because, this is when we teach them to love.

We tell them — no one is perfect. We all mess up. It doesn’t make it right, but we are not supposed to judge. God tells us to love. The one-liner I use a thousand times a week is “We’re all still learning.”

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13

That verse is good. That verse in action is even better. My kids need to see me love people who’ve offended me. It’s even more important to show them how to love. They’ll see me loving someone with whom I don’t agree with on a certain value, and they’ll learn to love everyone.

So, I want to hear from you. I’m still in this journey trying to figure it out. How do you keep the balance of instilling foundational truths important to you, while also teaching your kids to love those who don’t follow the same values?

Open Communication with Kids

I remember those long days. Sanitizing bottles. Changing diapers. Mastitis. NO SLEEP. Depression diagnosis.

That stage was brutal.

Now, my kids are in elementary school; I have different challenges as a mom. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is:

There is this small window between kindergarten and middle school where our kids still think we’re cool. They value our opinion. They listen. They emulate us. And, they’re learning to function in the world.

These years give us an opportunity to lay the foundation for open communication with our kids.

If it’s common practice for our kids to talk with us in elementary school, it will be their gut reaction to seek our opinion when they’re older.

So, we have to be available at any moment for any question.

Here are some of the most important conversations we’ve covered:

  • “Not everything you hear is true.”
    My concern was misinformation from other children. We tell our kids if they hear new words and don’t know the meaning, ask us. We promise to be honest. On a side note, when you hear them say that cuss word or ask that sex question, don’t freak out! Be their safe place to ask anything, without embarrassment or shame. They’re looking for a calm explanation.
  • “Do not search the Internet for answers.”
    It’s a good thing my daughter has not googled some of the things she’s asked because the pictures would be traumatic. We have a rule in our house that a parent has to be in the room when googling. God tells us to guard our minds, and we want to keep out negative images. “More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23, CEB)
  • “The Bible is our moral compass to determine right and wrong.”
    My daughter came home from school one day and immediately looked up “lying” in the Bible. One of her friends asked her to lie about a secret. My daughter wanted to know what God said about it. Another way to communicate this — the popular choice may not always be the right choice. What does God say?
  • “Respect Everyone.”
    I love that my kids are learning about different religions, theologies, etc. because I think it’s important for them to understand what and why we believe. They are discovering differences in opinion. Equally important in this conversation, we are to “respect everyone” as instructed in 1 Peter 2:17.
  • “Sex is a gift to enjoy when you’re married.”
    As for talking specifically about sex, it’s an ongoing discussion. I write about it here: Talking to my Kids about Sex

What other conversations would you include?


Joy Comes From Giving

“Mom, I know the truth about Christmas.”

“Ummm, what do you mean?”

“I know you and Dad are Santa.”

“Does that bother you?”

“No, Christmas is about Jesus. Santa has always been just for fun. I want to help be Santa this year, though.”

This was a conversation last year with my then eight-year-old daughter. Who let the cat out of the bag? No one at school. She recognized my handwriting. Our Santa is not very smart over here.

And so, she helped me pick out and wrap all the presents for her younger brother. We had a blast! On Christmas Eve, after he was all cuddled in bed, we put out the presents and she enjoyed the milk and cookies!

A couple days after Christmas, she said, “That was the best Christmas ever. I was more excited to see him open his gifts than to get mine. I loved seeing his reaction.”

A life lesson … joy comes from giving.

We have our fun with Santa and even this crazy Elf we’ve adopted (for the sake of staying focused on the real meaning of Christmas, though, I’m not going to address the debate about this controversial Elf other than to say — let’s agree not to judge each other). But seriously, NONE of it matters.

We wouldn’t even celebrate CHRISTmas without the little baby, given to the world by an innocent virgin, a young first-time mom. Jesus was the most perfect example of giving. He was born. He served. He healed. He gave His life for you. For me.

Focus on Him. On Christmas Day, we read Luke 2:1-20 and “The Tale of Three Trees” (this is a precious story about Jesus’ cross). We also make a special birthday cake, add candles & sing to Jesus!

Model His giving. This year, we’ve added some new traditions. We:

  • Surprised our kids on Thanksgiving with a gift. There was cash inside. We explained that it was their “Bless Others” money. My son donated to Toys for Tots and Jaxon’s FROG Foundation (our friends started this foundation after their five-year-old passed away from brain cancer last year, My daughter has decided to send a care package to a little girl who is going through chemotherapy; and
  • Filled Ziploc bags with bottled water and non-perishable food, then loaded them in our car. When we see homeless people, we’re ready to give. The first time my six-year-old son gave away a bag, that sweet homeless man looked deep into my son’s eyes and said, “God bless you, little boy.” And when we drove away, my son said, “That felt awesome. I feel tingly inside.”

“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’” 2 Corinthians 9:7

I would love to hear your traditions. How do you teach your kids about giving to others?