Teaching Kids About Money – MBFLP 223

Teaching Young Kids About Money

Today we’re talking about one of those most practical of all topics – money, and particularly how you teach your young people about it. This was easier with the older kids because with the older kids, I mean, you get a job, start a business, make a budget, save money, easy. You can’t tell your five year old to go get a job.

So how do you teach these young kids to manage money? How do you teach them to take it seriously?

We do need to take it seriously because of the things we noticed when we were researching our book on marriage. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Test, something psychologists developed years ago, ranked major life events in their order of impact on your health. The death of a spouse is number 1. Number 14 was “financial issues,” but everything above number 14 had a financial impact of some sort. It touches every aspect of our lives and you know, it’s something that we need to be intentional about teaching, starting from very early, to be stewards of what God’s given them.

So what does that look like?

Teaching Young Kids About Money

Part of it is just teaching them what money is and what it’s about. For example, we teach our kids that money is like a voucher for work. That’s a concept which we don’t think everybody has really thought through. We’re in the business of writing and publishing books, but we can’t take box loads of books down to city hall to pay our electrical bill. They’re not going to be impressed because they don’t need books. You need money because money is a voucher – we get a check for the month for the work we do and we take it to the bank and when we use that money to pay other people to their work,

That’s an important principle to get to the children to see that every piece of money that passes through your hands, somebody worked and did something productive. Either they did some labor or they produced something for sale, and that that piece of money represents certain amount of their work, time, and effort.

It’s really super important for young kids to grasp because you know when you connect it, when you can say, okay, well dad had to work for this money. What he did earned the money that we’re spending. That makes it real and helps the child understand that spending is not just, “Oh, Daddy has this wonderful magic card and we just hand it to the merchant and they give us hamburgers.” … (listen to the whole thing below!)


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Teaching Discernment – MBFLP 222

How do you teach discernment to your teens?

How do you teach your kids discernment in a world soaked in media? We may be able to tightly control our youngest children’s exposure and experience of the entertainment world, but that changes with time. We need to train our teens how to recognize both the good things in media and the deceptive things which lie in wait for the unwary! How can we prepare them to see everything, even entertainment, through a Biblical lens? 

Media is a powerful social force

“Media changes culture throughout history. We can look at so many times a book at the right time changed the world. And so, you know, given that, we’ve got to teach our kids how to handle it.

“I heard somebody say, whenever there is a big revolution in media and communications, two things happen. It’s immediately used to communicate the gospel and it’s immediately used to broadcast pornography. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the printed word or you’re talking about radio or streaming media online. There’s going to be fantastic stuff and there’s going to be stuff that you really want to avoid. Our kids need to understand. You need to teach them enough so that they’re not caught by surprise, they’re not lured into traps, and they don’t stumble into bad neighborhoods but rather to say, “That path goes a place that God doesn’t want me to follow.

The Balance of Art and Message

“Every time we talk about this, I think about Francis Schaefer’s book Art and the Bible. That is such a good resource because he explains this … How do you look at art?

“There are a couple of things here. There’s good art or bad art, and there’s good message or bad message.

“When you’re talking about art, it’s about the skill of the artist … Are they able to write? Can they write a coherent sentence? Can they tell a story? Can they handle the camera? But then the message is, what are they communicating?

“We recognize good art with a good message – Rembrandt, for example. Or bad art, bad message – that’s trash. Sometimes we tolerate things done badly because they’ve got a good message. But the really dangerous part is good art with a bad message, where you have a story which doesn’t glorify God, which contradicts Scripture, which teaches immoral ideas, ‘but the music is so good and the special effects are just incredible!’”

“One of my teachers in high school, a very conservative, older lady, she said she remembered one of the scandalous books during her younger years. She was at library one day when this prim elderly lady came walking in and very quietly slid that book across the circulation counter to return it. The librarian said, “Why, Miss Jones! I never would have thought you’d be reading this!” And the older lady blushed and said, “Well … it was so beautifully written!”

Kids – Don’t be like Miss Jones!

Parents – let’s teach them how to avoid that trap … tune in to the whole podcast below!

BONUS – The second half of the episode, we talk through a recent movie the way we discuss it with our teens. Listen in and see what that sounds like!

Are your teens watching media with Biblical discernment?

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Love in a Time of Sickness – MBFLP 221 (repeat!)

HARRRCH! Greetings from our bronchitis ward! With the whole family, including your hosts, suffering from all sorts of respiratory unpleasantness … we’re going to bring back our show about navigating the challenges of sickness in your family. We hope to be healthy and “back in the saddle” soon! ~ Hal and Melanie

The traditional wedding vows include the promise to love and cherish one another “in sickness and in health.” Yet most of us come to our wedding without a lot of personal experience of serious, life-disrupting illness. We accept the vow but don’t have much practical knowledge of what that may look like.

“We’ve got kids who’ve had broken bones, we’ve had a child was born with a congenital heart defect.  We have had all kinds of bizarre and strange problems over the years. And yet I don’t think of us as a sickly family, … Here’s the thing. We make that promise up front that we’re going to be there for one another. We’re going to love one another even when we’re sick and you know that that’s really a practical manner. That’s really the rubber meets the road there because you know, that’s when the loving feelings just aren’t there.

“You know that you don’t have warm, fluffy feeling when one of you is throwing up in the bathroom, the romance is not in the picture at that point. And yet, …

“Do you remember when I got food poisoning? … We had only been married a matter of weeks. I will never forget that feeling of being in the bathroom throwing up and feeling such a nasty mess, and I was a newlywed! I was used to trying to be pretty and everything and I felt … so helpless. And I remember you wetting a washcloth and washing my face off and I tell you what — I felt some love for you. I felt a huge wave of affection for you.

Love is about doing. It’s not about feeling.

It’s an action, a choice of our behavior toward another person rather than purely a reflection of our feelings at the moment.

“That’s an important thing to remember. You know that over and over again in Scripture, love works its way out in our actions, not just in the butterfly kind of fluffy feelings. I mean, those are there, that’s great when they’re there; but when you’re absolutely beat by chemotherapy, when you are recovering from a really difficult pregnancy, or whatever … something else comes into play than just the animal attraction.”

“You know what true love is—it’s putting someone else’s feelings and needs ahead of your own, right? There’s a passage starting in Ecclesiastes 4:9 – it says, ‘Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor, for if they fall, one will lift up his companion; but woe to him who was alone when he falls and he gas no one to help him up again. If two lie down together, they will keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.’”

“You know that the two of us in marriage together, if one of us has a need, the other one can step up and meet it. I’ll be strong one day or week or even year. And you’ll be strong another one. Can we just take turns? And in that threefold cord that’s not quickly broken — when we have the Lord to rely on, we are strong.”

Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Christian Standard Bible

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Things We’re Glad We Did Homeschooling – MBFLP 220

homeschooling | #podcast #homeschoolpodcast

It’s human nature – everybody has things they regret, or at least, things they’d do differently if they could. But a thoughtful reader told us she was tired of hearing everybody’s regrets – what about things we did homeschooling that turned out well, or even better than we expected?

This episode we share several things that made our homeschooling adventure more enjoyable, less anxious, and more effective for everybody. And even if you’ve been homeschooling for years and years, you’ll find useful ideas even veterans can use!

One Decision We Live With Every Day!

We each had a personal library of favorite books when we got married, but as young parents we started acquiring books for our children, too. Our kids have grown up with lots of books surrounded by books absolutely swimming in books (consider the impact of eight kids and each has their own growing collection …)

The research is confirming that this is actually a good thing. A study from the Australian National University surveyed 160,000 adults from 31 different countries, from the U.S. and U.K. to Turkey, Japan, and Chile.

Respondents, who ranged in age from 25 to 65, were asked to estimate how many books were in their house when they were 16 years old. The research team was interested in this question because home library size can be a good indicator of what the study authors term “book-oriented socialization.” Participants were able to select from a given range of books that included everything from “10 or less” to “more than 500.”

The surveys, which were taken between 2011 and 2015, showed that the average number of books in participants’ childhood homes was 115, but that number varied widely from country to country. The average library size in Norway was 212 books, for instance; in Turkey, it was 27. Across the board, however, it seemed that more books in the home was linked to higher proficiency in the areas tested by the survey.

(Read more at Smithsonian Magazine)

Interestingly, the study found that a person who grew up surrounded by books but left school after the ninth grade, has nearly the same literacy scores as a university graduate who didn’t have many books growing up

“So, literacy-wise, bookish adolescence makes up for a good deal of educational advantage,” the study authors write.

How’s that for your good news of the day?

Here’s our favorite cartoon about people like us … can you relate?



NEW SPEAKING EVENTS: We’ve added three new events to our speaking schedule – next month we’ll be in Danville, Va., on February 22, and in April, Winnsboro, La. on the 7th and Shreveport, La. on the 9th. Would you like to have us speak at your event? Your support group, parents’ club, church, or other gathering? It’s super easy when we’re already on the road. Check out our events page and then drop us a line here – we’d love to hear from you!


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Christian Standard Bible

The Christian Standard Bible captures the Bible’s original meaning without compromising clarity. An optimal blend of accuracy and readability, this translation helps readers make a deeper connection with God’s Word and inspires lifelong discipleship. The CSB is for everyone—for readers young and old, new and seasoned. It’s a Bible pastors can preach from and a Bible you can share with your neighbor hearing God’s Word for the very first time.

Find out more here!

When Adult Kids Move Back Home – MBFLP 219

What do you do when the adult kids move out … and then come back?

It’s not uncommon – the Census Bureau reports that more than one out of three Millennials (ages 18-34) are living at home with their parents. (In some states, it’s nearly 50%!)

This is not unusual historically – when we look back in our family history a hundred years or more, we see it was common for adult children to be living with parents and sharing the work of farm, forge, and kitchen – or for newlyweds to be living with their parents or in-laws for a time, too.

But this has become more common in recent years. Why?

Young people are getting married later – age of first marriage is approaching 30 for men and 27 for women

  • In 1976, 75% of men and 93% of women were married by age 30
  • In 2014, it was half that – 32% of men and 46% of women
  • More Millennials live with their parents than with a spouse

Student loan debt is a serious burden to many, too. The average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree left school with nearly $28,500 in debt

And this all happening in the midst of a long, sluggish recovery from the financial crises of 2008 and beyond.

So it’s not surprising or rare for parents to find themselves with a twenty-something son or daughter moving back into their old bedroom.

The question is, how can we make this work for all of us?

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Children in “Big Church” – MBLFP 218


Let the little children come unto Me, and forbid them not, He said

Should children be in the main church service with the big people? We had eight children and we’ve tried to keep them in “big church” with us as much as possible. And we found that, with some wisdom and attention, it’s not only possible, but actually very good – and the kids learn much more than you might expect! This episode, we’re talking about the why and how of bringing little kids into the worship and teaching of the whole church.

Children and Worship in the Bible

Many churches have separate services for kids, “children’s church,” in addition to nurseries that sometimes include kids well out of the diaper years. We’ve been to churches that strongly encouraged – or even demanded – that children be sent out of the main sanctuary! But what do we see in the Bible?

In both the Old and New Testaments, children are specifically welcomed among the adults in formal and informal times of worship

  • Moses included children and “little ones” when he gathered the people to hear and re-affirm the covenant (Deuteronomy 29:11)
  • Even children seven and under were expected to benefit from Scriptural teaching (Deuteronomy 31:10-13)
  • Very young children were included in other times of worship and prayer (2 Chronicles 20:13, Ezra 10:1, Nehemiah 10:28, Joel 2:16)
  • Jesus accepted the worship of children when He entered Jerusalem, quoting Psalm 8:2 (Matthew 21:16)
  • Jesus welcomed children into His presence even when the disciples didn’t (Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16)
  • Children were present for Jesus’ teaching and miracles (Matthew 14:21, John 6:9)
  • Jesus taught his disciples they should learn from the simple faith of children (Matthew 18:2-5)
  • Children are mentioned in gatherings with the apostles, too (Acts 21:5)

Making It Work – For Everybody

Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. -- Jesus

We were bringing babies and young children into the services long before it was cool! We were inspired and encouraged by Edith Schaeffer’s books where she described how she had managed her own young family in church, and we decided to try it ourselves. Here’s what we learned:

  1. Remember children are, after all, children. Don’t expect them to act like tiny adults. They will be fidgety, noisy, and childish.
  2. Start at home. Include your children in family devotions. Teach them to sit quietly for prayer. Practice sitting quietly in Mom or Dad’s lap for periods of time while reading the Bible or listening to someone teaching.
  3. Prepare your children to behave appropriately in church. Remind them that there are times to be still and quiet, like during the prayers, and times to stand up and sing with joy. You may want to explain your church’s beliefs about Communion or the Lord’s Supper, whether your child should take part or not.
  4. Teach them to sing. Even a child who can’t read yet can join in the singing if she knows the words. And it’s plain from the Bible that God is delighted to hear the voices of little children singing His praise!
  5. Help the children understand the message. You can whisper a simple explanation or draw illustrations to keep a child interested and learning. Curt and Sandra Lovelace’s book Children in Church has great examples how to do this.
  6. Be sensitive to other worshipers. Some people just aren’t used to normal background noises of children. Sit near a doorway and be ready to quietly remove a fussy child – if they calm down, you might be able to slip back in.

Don’t sell your kids short – if you make a habit of talking about the Lord and His Word at home, like it says in Deuteronomy 6, your kids will grow up with the knowledge and context that helps them understand a Sunday sermon and gain benefit that may surprise you. Go ahead, give it a try!


  • We’re speaking at the 2019 Virginia Homeschool Convention in Richmond, June 6-8, 2019.  CLICK HERE for info about this huge event.
  • Our Come Away Weekend is a marriage retreat and couples getaway combined. Everything’s included for May 3-5 at beautiful St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast.  CLICK HERE to find out more!
  • Would you like us to speak at your church, support group, conference or retreat?  We are booking dates throughout 2019. CLICK HERE to let us know you’re interested!

Five Ways to Optimize Your Christmas Budget – MBFLP 217

Five (no, more) ways to make the most of your Christmas budget!


Whether the economy is strong or struggling, the traditional Christmas gift-buying rush is a major expense. When you’ve got a big family like ours, that only accentuates it! This week, we’re talking about ways we’ve learned to make your Christmas budget go a long way, even with lot of kids and a little bit of money.

Big Family, Small Budget

We have a big family – eight children, and now they’re getting married and bringing new family and grandkids into the mix. So a long time ago, we had to figure out how to budget for a fun Christmas that didn’t bankrupt the whole operation!

We’ve found several concepts that have helped us make the most of our Christmas shopping. Let’s talk about the kids first.

Shopping for the Children

  1. Look for presents which are both educational and fun. There are more than you think!
  2. Find gifts that encourage interaction. Multi-player games can entertain more people than single-player varieties.
  3. Choose gifts that are appropriate for multiple ages. Remember you can team older and younger players together so different ages can have a chance at games. Sometimes you can even give a larger gift for multiple children to share.
  4. Look for creative and constructive gifts. Art supplies, craft kits (see below!), construction toys, model kits, and tools are great ideas. For school-aged kids, we found it was better to buy inexpensive but real tools and supplies rather than the toy varieties that aren’t really useful.
  5. Seek out gifts of lasting value. Toys and games which have been popular for a long time, classic books (for children as well as older readers), clothing that won’t go out of style – these won’t fall out of fashion!

What About Each Other?

Smart gift shopping when there's lots of kids and not lots of money

  1. Be sure you’re in agreement about shopping – like how much to spend on each other. Be honest … and don’t cheat.
  2. Know your mate’s preferences – practical or whimsical, surprise or planned gifts. The only right answer is the one that makes your mate happy.
  3. Don’t overlook experiences, services, or pre-owned treasures. We’ve done all of these at different times.
  4. Old Christmas is an option. Christmas used to be celebrated on January 6, and some people still observe “the twelve days of Christmas.” When we were newlyweds, we exchanged gifts on Old Christmas – after taking advantage of the year-end clearance sales! Mom and Dad might agree to do this for each other, even while sharing the usual December 25 event with the children.

Pro Tip

Family Gift List – A few years ago, we started a family gift list on Google Docs. We try to keep this updated all year long, with options divided by price range – free things, $5 gifts, $20 gifts, more expensive gifts. This has been a big help as our kids reach for adulthood and have more specific interests and needs. It’s also helpful for birthdays, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, and anniversary presents!



Long Distances with Little Ones – MBFLP 216

Long Distances with Little Ones

The Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest time of year on America’s highways, and you may be driving long hours with little ones on board. How do you manage this so you all arrive at Grandma’s in good spirits? We hit the road in 2010 with seven children in the van and we’re crisscrossing the country for six months every year. This episode, we’ll share what we’ve learned about covering long distance with little ones!

You’re Not Alone

Last year, AAA estimated 51 million of us would be on the road for Thanksgiving. That’s like the whole population of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Minnesota on the highway at the same time! It’s hard to guess how many of those millions were riding in booster seats, but you can bet it was a bunch.

There are some practical ways to make this more manageable for everyone: 

Long Distances with Little Ones

Making It Work

    1. Remember kids are kids – you’ve got make allowance for them. When Jacob met his brother Esau on the way back to his home country, Esau urged him to come along – but Jacob reminded him, “the children are weak,” and told him to go ahead, “[and] I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock …, and the children, are able to endure.” (Genesis 33:12-14)
    2. Take it easy on the mileposts. The fact that Dad the Road Warrior can handle 700 miles a day may not be the best plan for Mom and the kids. We were much happier when we slowed down our itinerary.
    3. Be sure that kids who sleep all day will be alert and active when Mom and Dad are ready for bed! We’ve done a few trips overnight or in the wee hours, but it made the parents grumpy the next day – and no child needs that! It’s tempting to pile on the miles while the crew is napping, but you’ll all be happier if you get out and get some exercise during the day. Which leads to our discovery,
    4. We all need regular breaks. On doctor’s advice, we make a brief stop every couple of hours. You’re going to need gas and rest rooms eventually, why not just plan on it? Modern travel plazas aren’t like the seedy truck stops of old – we find they’re usually clean, well-lit, and have large rest rooms. Which reminds us,
    5. “Mandatory Bathroom Stops” make it efficient. We just require everybody to get out and use the rest room, even if they “don’t need to go.” (We found the teenager who insisted he didn’t need to get out was the one who would have an emergency thirty minutes down the road.)
    6. Don’t miss the field trips along the way. We’ve had some great stops at National Parks, state historical sites, or even just picnic areas with a view. Go ahead – you might learn something, and if nothing else, the kids can run around and use up some energy! (Keep a ball or Frisbee handy to encourage some activity). A little research beforehand can highlight neat stuff ahead.
    7. Do like the airlines – distract the passengers with changing activities. You can hand out a snack, then a little while later surprise them with some new crayons or a book, then sing or play a car game, then maybe start a DVD or pop in an audio book (we’ve got some suggestions below!) Older kids might be able to do some schoolwork along the way – but if it’s a short vacation, you might want to just take the days off from book work and let them learn what they can from the travel.

In the old days, an education wasn’t considered complete until the student had experienced some serious travel. Now, it’s so much easier to get around, we tend to rush through it and miss the good stuff along the way. Slow down a bit, let the kids out of their car seats some, and enjoy the journey together!


Looking for some entertaining audiobooks that help build character, too? Check out the growing line of classic stories at RaisingRealMen.com, and for a limited time, use the coupon code audioholiday15 to take 15% off! Brought to you by our publisher, Great Waters Press!

Date Night (even when you “can’t”) – MBFLP 215

How to have date night nevertheless

Once upon a time, when we were young parents a long way from home, we heard someone say, “Date night is absolutely necessary for a healthy marriage!” When you’re new in town and grandparents are a thousand miles away, that’s discouraging! But the important thing is not “dates” but connection – how to renew the face-to-face relationship in the midst of shoulder-to-shoulder life. This episode, we talk about practical ways to do just that, even if you can’t really manage a getaway right now!

How to have date night regardless

What’s the reason?

Actually the important thing is not “the event” but the time for re-connection. Don’t get frustrated and fretful over the inability to do a big formal celebration – it may be the best thing at this time of life is smaller and closer to home.

In fact, home is a good option. We travel so much with our speaking and teaching ministry, we really find a quiet evening at home is a change of pace! We’ve had some great anniversaries and Valentine’s dates watching old movies on Netflix and eating dinner we prepared ourselves.

What are some options when kids are in the mix?

A second thing that’s important to remember is that we need all sorts of intimacy – not just the kind that takes total privacy and all kids asleep or absent. It’s good to just talk together, whether over dinner or a grown-up dessert, and let the kids watch their own movie back in the family room. If you really want them to entertain themselves for a while, you can even invest in some snack foods and turn them loose for an hour or two.

If you haven’t noticed, people never stop growing and changing. You didn’t reach 18 or 25 or 40 and then stop, as if you’d arrived at a destination — life goes on, and you both will find new surprises in each other if you look for them. Why not ask some open ended questions – “What’s your favorite food? Do you like different things as an adult than you did as a child? What’s the earliest thing you can remember? What did you find surprising about being married?” If you need some suggestions, sign up for our free series, “LoveBirdSeed” and get fun and thought-provoking conversation starters every week.

Of course you can stay up later than the kids … or get up earlier. You can go for a walk together or take the kids to the park, where you can sit on a bench and watch them play while you have some grownup conversation. Grandparents are a lifesaver if they’re nearby (and remember, letting your kids eat a few extra cookies at Nana’s house probably won’t topple the organic or keto lifestyle you’re cultivating at home). We even know friends who traded babysitting with each other on a regular schedule, one Friday a month at each house – and as the kids got older, the couples were even able to sneak away for overnights sometimes.

Remember that a lot of advice people share is based on particular circumstances. Sometimes you’re so busy or kept apart by business travel or other responsibilities, you really need to jealously protect a few precious hours. In that case, a scheduled, carefully planned date on the calendar can be a lifesaver! But if you are blessed to have more free time together on a regular basis, the desperation isn’t the same, and maybe you can find good, satisfying “couple time” from day to day. Date night can be great fun, but don’t feel that it’s a mandatory formality if you’re building a strong relationship in the informal hours of life right now!

“Q: What do we do when we can’t get away for our anniversary – not even for dinner out?”

If you are looking for a great couples getaway, check out our Come Away Weekend retreats in the spring and fall. Details will be coming soon for our Spring 2019 event – for more info, visit our website!

Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Change is in the Air Movie

This story embraces the imperfections that make us human, offers a way to set ourselves free and asks us all to take a good, long look at the wild birds in the sky.

Watch the trailer here!


Why Teaching Manners Matters – MBFLP 214

Why Teaching Manners Matters

Are Manners Important?

In the digital age, when informality and familiarity is the norm in so many places, is it too “old school” to teach manners to your kids? Have we moved past all the old social niceties? Is it unmanly for our boys to be schooled in etiquette? Or is there something important and lasting about manners and courtesy? Where’s the Biblical balance?

Recent events in the news suggest our country is having a breakdown in public manners – when even elected officials are publicly calling for their supporters to be uncivil to opponents, and politicians seem to win praise for how nasty they can be to the other side.

Studies are suggesting that the new generation just starting to graduate from college is so locked into online interaction – text messaging and social media – that they are losing the ability to interact face-to-face, and any awkwardness or difference of opinion is taken as a dangerous, personal attack.

CLICK HERE to read Hal’s review of the fascinating book iGen by Jean Twenge

Should we be concerned? Or is this just the new reality?

Why Teaching Manners Matters

What Do We Mean by “Manners”?

When we say the word “manners” or “etiquette” we might think of questions like, “Which fork do I use first at the banquet?” Actually, though, the concept of manners is much broader than those sorts of details.

Manners are the social conventions that promote peaceful, respectful interaction between people. They’re the way we show consideration toward others, and in many ways, an expression of personal modesty or humility. They’re diplomacy at the one-on-one level.

And we see all of these in the Scripture!

The Bible Says Quite A Lot About Manners

We’ve all heard the Golden Rule – Jesus said, Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise (Luke 6:31) It’s a call to put ourselves in another person’s place, and then act accordingly. Little children aren’t capable of it, but it’s something that we teach our kids as they grow – think about others!

In Romans 12:10 Paul says we should “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”(ESV) Our behavior toward others is how we show them honor – the way we speak to them, the way we treat them, the way we speak about them to others. Paul says we should be so concerned to show honor to others, we should make a point to be the best at it.

And Peter says in 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” That’s remarkable – Peter says this of the relationships within the church (and remember the church was a brand new thing where Jews and Gentiles were brought into close and equal fellowship – when they had previously seen each other with suspicion or even disgust). He says, “Take these people that you used to ignore or reject, and become united in mind, sensitive and compassionate in heart, and particularly, polite toward one another.”

We can go on and on with this, but the point is, as Christians, we are called to be polite people. It’s a matter of respect and self-control, as well as humility. Good manners are not unmanly or weak – in fact, you might point out to your sons (who may naturally push back at “sissy” rules about courtesy) that some of the greatest leaders of history – men like George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, commanders whose men would willingly follow them into danger and death, were known for their refined manners in society. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about!

Points to Consider

It’s clear that Christians are supposed to be polite people, but what does that look like?

There are some things which are clearly described and still apply today – such as “You shall rise up before the grey headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God” (Leviticus 19:32) The rule to stand up when an elderly person comes in the room is still good manners! The Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” hasn’t changed since Moses came down from Sinai.

But it’s okay to recognize that many social guidelines are different from one culture to the next. What’s your belief about foot-washing, for instance? Jesus and Paul both made a point about washing the feet of guests as a sign of loving service and hospitality (look at Luke 7:44, John 13:5-14, 1 Timothy 5:10) – but that’s not the way we show hospitality in 21st century America.

The way you address people is a sign of manners or respect that differs from one place to the next. In the Southeast, where we live, it’s expected that children always address adults as Sir or Ma’am, unless they’re special family friends and might be allowed as “Aunt Sue” (not actually a relative), “Sister Sue,” or “Miss Sue” – we’ve heard all these! And yet in other regions, we’ve been politely scolded, “Don’t call me ‘ma’am,’ it makes me feel old!”

What you do with your shoes is a sign of respect in some places. When we visited China, we were told it was not polite to wear street shoes into the house – and it’s not a good practice in many American cities, either. In the Middle East, the bottom of the shoe is considered a filthy thing and an insult if you let yours be seen; you never cross your feet where an Arab might glimpse your soles!

That goes for strangers, too

Manners are not just reserved for friends and relative. Jesus warned us not to stoop to insult and name-calling; in Matthew 5:22, where He said we’re courting trouble (even judgment) if we call someone “Fool!” or “Empty-head!” Yet how often do we jump to heaping mocking insults at public figures on social media? Jude pointed out that even the archangel Michael restrained his words toward Satan, yet we’re quick ignore Paul’s admonition in Titus 3:2 “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”

Manners Aren’t Optional — They’re Helpful

Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.” Our kids, just like us, will be judged by those around them, and their manners will be one of the first things that people note. Let’s make a point to teach our kids to handle themselves with respect for others, respect for themselves, and the fear of God – as demonstrated by their courtesy in every situation! Consider than our gentleness and graciousness toward others – even when we feel like they really haven’t “earned” it – is a mark of our own Christian maturity. And that’s a challenge for us as well as our kids.

In Other News

Our book Love, Honor, and Virtue reached #1 in its category on the Amazon Best Seller Ranking this month! If you’re looking for a tool to help your son gain a Biblical attitude about sexuality, check it out at http://www.raisingrealmen.com/lhv/

If you’d like more discussion about teaching manners to boys in particular and pre-teens of both sexes, you might find our books Raising Real Men and No Longer Little helpful, too. You can get both at RaisingRealMen.com

Join us and two dozen other speakers and teachers at the online Homeschool Parenting Summit. It’s totally free from October 22 to 27 – click here for more information!

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