Lessons We Teach Our Children –And We Need to Remember

July 26, 2022

I often walk pass a daycare center on my morning walk, and one morning I saw a little girl race down the ramp into the building. I heard her father say, “Face forward.” I suspect he was reminding her to pay attention to what she was doing, where she was going, so she wouldn’t trip and fall. And then there would be tears and maybe a scraped knee.

Hearing this simple instruction, I thought about other directions we give our young children.

I remember saying, “Hands behind your back,” when we were in a store, and there were temptations to touch appealing objects. I also remember often saying “Inside voice, please,” hoping for less noise, and when behavior disintegrated, saying, “Use your words.”

It occurs to me these basic instructions offer a wise standard for adults, too.

Face forward.

Hands behind your back.

Inside voice.

Use your words.

Each one implies a level of civil conversation and behavior, along with respect for one another. Instead of engaging in violence we will keep our hands behind our backs and lower the volume of our voices, in order to engage with one another. Instead of resorting to sticks and stones, we will use our voices to explore and ask questions and reflect with openness and curiosity. And we do so with hope, moving in a forward direction towards justice and peace.

Laura Kelly Fanucci in a recent post, “Yearn the Heart Forward” on her blog, “The Holy Labor,” https://laurakellyfanucci.substack.com says stretching ourselves forward means we are “willing to love, willing to be loved, knowing that both could hurt, but believing the risk is worth the cost.” There may, in fact, be some scraped knees along the way, but what is gained by standing still or moving backwards or wearing blinders?

One more instruction and it is one I know I said often to our children, especially when I was exasperated,

Listen to me.

Yes, we each want to be heard. We each want our opinions heard and honored, but what is even more important right here, right now, is to LISTEN. Listen to one another. Listen without thinking about the important point we want to make. Listen with the ears of the heart. Listen to learn, to understand. Listen as an act of love; an act of living God’s hope for all She created.

May each of these instructions become an invitation.

An Invitation

Which of these instructions is most challenging for you. I would love to know.

5 thoughts on “Lessons We Teach Our Children –And We Need to Remember

  1. Interesting that you just wrote about this: A few days ago, I was reading an article about these “instructions” we give to children. The author asked how we, as adults would feel if someone spoke to us like this. She said that instead we should talk to our children like we would to another adult. I can’t remember her exact phrasing but it was something along the lines of, “Let’s talk softly in the library” instead of “use your inside voice”, etc. I’m honestly not sure what to think of this. Thoughts? (Wish I could remember where I read about this!)


    • If what the author of the article was saying is that we need to be polite and respectful, yes, absolutely. However, children are not yet adults and so often I hear parents/grandparents trying to explain too much or discuss something that is beyond what a child can do in a specific moment. One of our jobs as adults is to be the adult and to treasure the child as a child and not just as a small adult. I am certainly not opposed to modifying the message, the instruction for appropriate behavior and if “Let’s talk softly…” works, great!!! In fact, I wish adults would take these instructions more to heart! Thanks for sharing–lots of food for thought and as always, there is more than one perspective or viewpoint.

      Liked by 1 person

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