“Don’t give your heart out to everyone. Be thankful for what you have. I’d rather you be happy than rich!” I can still hear my mom’s voice saying these words over and over when I was a kid, but they didn’t sink in. The truth is, no matter how many times parents repeat themselves, there are some things kids won’t understand until they’re older.
Now, as a mom, I realize that even though there are things kids won’t understand until they’re older (and have had enough life experiences to understand them), I still have to try to teach them. These lessons are like seeds I plant, and if I am persistent in watering and nurturing them, one day I will see them grow into lessons my kids will remember and take to heart. Here are 5 things kids won’t understand until they grow up.
1. Don’t give your heart away too quickly.
Teaching our children to be wise in their relationships is also teaching them how to guard their hearts. We plant this seed by teaching and showing our children that they always deserve to be treated with love and respect. As parents, we will warn them about dating certain people or pursuing toxic friendships. They may still pursue them, but hopefully, as they get older, they’ll look back at their experiences and see that we were right. That seed we planted will bloom into wisdom in choosing which relationships to build and nourish.
2. Do what makes you happy, not what makes you money.
Money is important for survival, but it should not be the end goal. If my daughter has a passion for makeup but she wants to go into law only because she thinks she will make more money, it is my job to lead her in her decisions so that she pursues a career that provides financially but also rewards her soul. The end goal is to teach our children how to achieve a fulfilled life by living out their callings and finding happiness in pursuing their passions.
3. Be grateful for the things you have.
If comparison is the thief of joy, then gratitude is the key to joy. This is one of the things kids won’t understand until they’re older, but being persistent in expressing gratitude can help them break away from the cycle of comparison. One day my daughter said she wanted some shoes that all of her friends had. She already had the same kind of shoes, but not the “right” brand. This was the perfect moment to teach my child that we may not always get what we want, but we should always be grateful for God’s perfect provision.
4. Our identity comes from God.
This is so important, especially for teenagers who want to date but are still trying to find their identity. They may think dating this person or belonging to that one group is what defines them. They want to fit in so badly that they lose the sense of who they really are. It is important to me to teach my children that their identity comes from God. The opinions of others or the way others perceive them shouldn’t affect the way they behave or live their lives.
5. I have to make hard decisions that you don’t like.
It is my job to protect my children. When my daughter was younger, she was not allowed to sleep over at her friends’ houses, especially if her friends had brothers. This caused lots of anger and tears. She thought we didn’t trust her and were being unreasonable. Now that she is older and has better judgment, she sees that our rules were meant to keep her safe. All those nights she cried while we explained our rules were seeds. They took a long time to grow, but they were worth planting.
What was something your parents constantly told you that didn’t make sense to you until adulthood?