This week I've got my mom-hat on because it's that time of year—back to school. I've been in full mom mode as I've been cleaning out closets, buying school clothes, and giving back-to-school haircuts. It's a busy and fun time of year, and I really love it. But besides all of the physical school preparations, we've also been trying to do some character preparations around here too. This seems to be a good time of year to talk with the kids and reteach some important values before they reenter (or enter for the first time) those elementary school doors.
I know that my boys will be exposed to so many words and images and other value systems as they leave my house and go out into the public school system. And I'm okay with that; actually, I want it for them. I want them to learn how to make choices and to be their own person and even to get picked on a little bit. I think there is value in all of those lessons. But I also want them to be prepared for what they are facing or might face. And the best thing I can do is to talk with them about it all. So today I'm sharing five things that we talk to our boys about before school starts. They aren't necessarily light topics, but they are super important, and I'd love it if these helped get any kind of discussion started at your house too!
1. Protecting against pornography. This is a conversation that we are trying to make a common one at our house full of boys. We are against pornography in any way, and we know that the world is increasingly becoming more and more okay with it. We started discussing pornography last year when Easton was six, and we're including Kesler in on it too. We've explained in simplified terms what pornography is (naked people or people without very many clothes on) and what to do if or when you see it. At our house, we're teaching them to call it out when they see it—say, "That's pornography," and then to leave the situation and tell a grown-up. Soren has told the boys that pornography is poison for your brain and that it will make you sick. The ONLY way to get the poison out is to talk about it, meaning to tell us about it. Otherwise it will make you sicker, and you might even want more of it. There is definitely more that goes into this conversation, but those are the basics. It seems like starting at this age has been just right for us because we all understand it and no one is uncomfortable talking about it.
2. Praying in school. We teach our boys it's okay, in fact more than okay, to pray in school. I don't tell them they need to close their eyes and bow their head and pray, but I want them to know they can pray in their mind at any time and in any place. This is something they should always know and be able to do, but as they are now gone from me all day, it's God that I'm trusting them to. He is the one who can help them in their needs daily. So whether they are scared, nervous, sad, or lonely, I want them to know how to pray for help.
3. Being a friend to those who need one. So this is actually one that I need to work on too. It's hard to be a friend to people who aren't like you or who don't behave like everyone else. But it's important. I'm trying to teach my boys to pay attention to who needs a friend. That might be the kid who spends his days in the safe seat, or maybe it's the one with a handicap of some kind. I hope my boys are friends to everyone in some way.
4. Being honest. One of my boys has a really hard time with this already. And it's hard to be patient with! But we had a good discussion the other night about a lot of ways that the kids might be tempted to be dishonest at school. I remember the temptations when I was a kid! Fingers crossed we have better behavior at school than we do at home with this one... ;)
5. Protecting each other. The last thing we always emphasize is the boys' responsibility toward each other. They are responsible to protect and watch out for each other. I don't care if they sit together on the bus, but Easton better know if Kesler is getting picked on by someone. The boys will finally both be in the same school together, and I hope they see each other and wave often. Brothers come before anyone else in this family of boys.
What do you remind your kids about before school starts? How do you keep it up during the year?