21 Things Children Should Learn From Their Parents

Kids are like little sponges, aren’t they? Soaking up everything in their world around them, and learning new things at an alarming pace.

And the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do,” definitely will fall on deaf ears to a young child, who looks to their parents and probably learns more from modeling our behavior, then from what we as parents are actually trying to teach them.

The way we live, as parents of young children, will have a huge impact on the kind of people that our little ones grow up to be, the lives that they will live, and their relationships with others. Our kids are constantly observing and learning from us, good or bad. Our behavior is one of the strongest influences our kids will have as they figure out what it means to live, and to thrive, in this world.

Knowing this makes my husband and I want to be intentional about the way we live and the way we show our kids what is valuable to us, through our actions. We want to choose to live in a way that will spur our kids on toward living full and meaningful lives.

Here are 21 things we think are important for kids to learn from their parents:

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  • Humor 1 of 21
    Humor
    The ability to laugh both at yourself, and with your spouse or partner, is so important. I said his sense of humor was one of my favorite things about my husband before we got married, and it's still one of my favorite things eight years later.
    Photo Credit: hygienematters/flickr
  • Adventure 2 of 21
    Adventure
    We think it's important for our kids to have a sense of adventure about life. To be excited to try new things, and to dare to do things that others might think are impossible.
    Photo Credit: mariachily/flickr
  • Affection 3 of 21
    Affection
    My husband and I want to model healthy mutual affection to our children, so they know that we love each other, and also that we love them.
    Photo Credit: yinghai83/flickr
  • Passion 4 of 21
    Passion
    If we want our kids to get passionate about things in their lives that are important to them, and to live out of that passion to make a difference in the world, it starts with living out our passions in our own lives.
    Photo Credit: bayasaa/flickr
  • Fighting Fair 5 of 21
    Fighting Fair
    It's inevitable that our kids will see and hear us fight with each other from time to time, so we feel it's important for them to see us fight well, and fairly. That even when fighting we are respectful toward each other, that we don't loose control and that we are definitely never violent toward one another.
    Photo Credit: greencolander/flickr
  • Hospitality 6 of 21
    Hospitality
    Opening up our home to friends and guests is really important to us, and we want to teach our kids from a young age that it's a joy to serve others, to open our home, and to share our lives with others.
    Photo Credit: selago/flickr
  • Encouragement 7 of 21
    Encouragement
    My husband and I both have the love language of words of encouragement, so we hope that our kids learn the importance and power of speaking encouraging words to others.
    Photo Credit: gareth1953/flickr
  • Committment 8 of 21
    Committment
    Children learn about commitment in relationships by watching their parents. We want to model a lifetime of love and faithfulness to each other, so our kids can use that as a foundation in their own relationships one day.
    Photo Credit: pkovacs/flickr
  • Priorities 9 of 21
    Priorities
    Our kids will see what is most important in our lives to us by the way we spend our time. One important way we model this is family dinners with the TV off, and cell phones and computers put away. This shows our kids that spending time together as a family is more important that staying connected to our jobs or others outside our family.
    Photo Credit: walkadog/flickr
  • Selflessness 10 of 21
    Selflessness
    Having children automatically requires some selflessness on the part of the parent toward the child. But we also want to show our kids that relationships work best when we are also selfless and serving toward one another.
    Photo Credit: bubblefishh/flickr
  • Valuing Friendships 11 of 21
    Valuing Friendships
    While families are one of the most important things, maintaining adult friendships outside of the family is vitally important to. Our kids should see that we make time and effort to grow and nurture friendships outside of our immediate family.
    Photo Credit: mikebaird/flickr
  • Forgiveness 12 of 21
    Forgiveness
    Along with fighting fair, it's also essential to teach our kids the importance of saying "I'm sorry" when we have hurt another person, as well as the importance of forgiving each other.
    Photo Credit: renaud-camus/flickr
  • Respect 13 of 21
    Respect
    Solid relationships are built on mutual respect, and that is the kind of relationship we want our kids to have when they get older. So we strive to model kindness and respect for one another, and for others, in the way we act and respond toward each other.
    Photo Credit: tangoblivion/flickr
  • Serving 14 of 21
    Serving
    We think it is important to serve others, not just within our family, but outside our family as well. This is one where it's especially true to model for our kids because they won't learn to serve just by talking about it, we have to actually go out and do it, and make it a regular part of our life.
    Photo Credit: hryckowian/flickr
  • Patience 15 of 21
    Patience
    "Patience is a virtue one should strive to attain", was a favorite quote of my high school English teacher. And she was right, because the importance of patience, both in a relationship, and with others, cannot be underestimated, and the best way to teach patience is to practice it yourself.
    Photo Credit: slightlyeverything/flickr
  • Responsibility 16 of 21
    Responsibility
    If we want our kids to learn to take care of their responsibilities and to finish what they start, we need to model this responsibility to them in our own lives.
    Photo Credit: rikkisrefugeother/flickr
  • Work Ethic 17 of 21
    Work Ethic
    It's really important for kids to see their parents working hard at their jobs. We don't feel bad about working in front of our kids in our home, because we want them to know that we both are pursuing work that benefits our family and is fulfilling to us personally.
    Photo Credit: jonomueller/flickr
  • Flexibility 18 of 21
    Flexibility
    Life, and relationships, require flexibility, changing and growing as people change and grow. By modeling this in our lives, our children will learn to be flexible and adjust in the midst of changing life circumstances and relationships.
    Photo Credit: Chris Willis/flickr
  • Generosity 19 of 21
    Generosity
    Our family strives to live with open hands toward our stuff and with our time, being generous towards others as often as we can. And we hope that our children learn this same generous spirit from a young age.
    Photo Credit: hamed/flickr
  • Quality Time 20 of 21
    Quality Time
    Kids learn what is valuable by watching how we spend our time. Spending quality time with our spouses, our kids, and others, shows them that people and relationships are the most important things we have in life.
    Photo Credit: mikebaird/flickr
  • Faith 21 of 21
    Faith
    Our children will learn about our beliefs and our faith from the way we live them out in our lives. We want our children to develop their own personal faith, and that stems from watching the faith of their parents in action.
    Photo Credit: Nannette Turner/flickr

What values do you strive to teach your kids, not through words, but through the way you live your life?

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