My dad died recently. He was 89.
If you’re assuming he was quite a bit older than I was, you’d be correct – 49 years my senior to be exact.
While some may argue that I was at a disadvantage by having a father old enough to be my grandfather, I’d have to disagree with you.
Although my parents divorced when I was just seven and I didn’t live with my father after that, his presence was felt through the lessons he not only taught me, but lived out consistently in his daily life.
You see, the lessons I learned from my dad aren’t those that can simply be talked about: they need to be experienced through a life lived during hardship, and then passed on through example.
My father was a first generation Jewish-American, born to a Polish father and Ukrainian mother who had to flee their homelands. Not only was he born during the Great Depression, but he fought in World War II. He held his first job at the age of eight, not so he could buy the latest pair of designer jeans, but because he had to in order to help feed his family.
His stories weren’t simply stories. . .
They were first-hand accounts of a life well lived.
They detailed his successes and failures.
They illuminated multi-generational stories of survival.
They were subtle pleas that I wouldn’t take a moment of my life for granted because if I didn’t put my best into everything I did, it would be a slap in the face of my ancestors.
And while I’m thankful my children don’t have to struggle the way my father did every day just to survive, I also worry that they will never have the same appreciation for life.
So in an effort both to keep my father’s memory alive and to pass on his wisdom and experience to my own children, I’ve jotted down these 5 old school values to teach my kids that I hope will benefit yours as well.
As I mentioned, my father identified himself as a cultural Jew, but that doesn’t negate the power of his values. But in an effort to translate them into current times and with a Christian perspective, I’ve called upon my friends Chrys Howard & Korie Robertson (from Duck Dynasty) who co-wrote and incredible book called “Duck Commander Devotions for Kids”. Not only is the book absolutely adorable, but it is rich in wisdom and grounded in biblical truth written in a way your children can comprehend and apply to their own lives.
5 Old School Values to Teach Your Kids
1. Let your word be your bond. Even as a lawyer, my father put much more weight on a promise and a handshake than he did a contract. To say the world has changed from that time would be an understatement. but the sentiment remains true. Honesty and integrity were valued above all else in his house, as they should be in our homes today.
You must not say evil things. You must not lie ~ Psalm 34:13
In their devotion entitled Always Tell the Truth, the ladies share, “Trust is what makes any relationship better. Lying can become a bad habit, so it’s a good idea never to lie. That way you don’t have to worry about it.”
2. Never spend more than you make. In our “I want it now”, credit-card saturated culture, patience is rarely exercised when it comes to shopping. In my father’s day, it wasn’t even possible to bring something home from the store before you had the money in your pocket. But even after credit became available, the concept of debt was as ugly as sin to him. Being free from debt allows us not only to live comfortably, but to give generously.
I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children ~ 1 Cor 4:14 NIV
In their devotion called Making Good Choices, Korie & Chrys say, “God has given us a brain to make wise decisions. Be smart. Use your brain to make good choices.”
3. Your education can never be taken away from you. I don’t remember a lot from my childhood, but I still remember my father calling me everyday to ask if I’d read a page in the dictionary that day…THE DICTIONARY! Another call I remember was getting a half hour lecture for getting an A- and how if I’d just worked a little bit harder, I could have gotten that A. I didn’t understand why he was so tough on me at the time but looking back, I now know that for his generation, education wasn’t a given, it was a privilege. SO many young children had to drop out of school so they could work to help their families and he always encouraged me to go as far as possible in my education. He always reminded me that no matter what job I might have, once I received my degrees, they were mine and there wasn’t anything anyone could ever do to take that accomplishment or knowledge away from me.
Always remember what you’ve been taught. Don’t let go of it. Keep safe all that you have learned. It is the most important thing to your life. ~ Proverbs 4:13
In the devotion, Remember Your Teachings, kids are reminded “God wants us to never forget his teachings. The Bible instructs us to keep God’s Word safe. That means to lock it away in our head just like we would a favorite toy or some money.”
4. Try new things. Have you ever heard of the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none”? Sometimes I feel that way because of how I was raised…and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. My parents exposed me to a TON of things growing up, including activities, sports, languages, exotic travel and people. They wanted me to have as many first hand experiences as possible so I could make up my own mind about something or someone. But what I wasn’t allowed to do was quit. I’d have to stick with the activity, class or sport for a pre-determined time, no matter how hard it was. It taught me to find something in myself I otherwise might not have.
We say they are happy because they were able to do this. You have heard about Job’s patience. You know that after all his trouble, the Lord helped him. This shows that the Lord is full of mercy and kind. ~ James 5:11
In the devotion Don’t Give Up, the ladies make this point: “You might get discouraged at times, but hang in there! If what you are doing is a good thing, God will bless you. It just might take a little longer.”
5. Work hard. My father was never afraid of work, but not just any work, challenging work. He challenged me to do the same, never opting for the easy way out, but looking for ways to push to the next level. I’ll admit, as a child, this made me put more emphasis on my performance rather than my relationships at times, but as an adult, I’ve learned to embrace the heart of this principle.
Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table ~ Prov 14:23 MSG
In a devotion of the same title and my father’s advice, Chrys & Korie ask, “Did you know God designed us to work? …Working hard gives us a good feeling about ourselves.“
Now you have the essence of my father put through the filter of our Heavenly Father and it’s up to you as a parent to put these principles into practice with your own family.
Your life is what you do with what you’ve been given. What value is your family known for?