Tag Archive for wisdom

The Benefit of Inaccurate Information

We seem to live in days filled with misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy. I find it frustrating and disappointing. Worse, I find it somewhat frightening for our children. But…then again… inaccurate information does offer our children benefits IF—and only IF—we develop and nurture a secure, stable, trusting relationship with them.

When children have a secure relationship with a reliable and trustworthy parent, they exhibit a greater ability to weigh the veracity of information they receive. They also show an improved ability to assess the reliability of the person sharing the information. Moreover, they tend to act on the intent of the information giver, not just the content they receive.

This is important for parents. After all there will be times in which we give our children inaccurate information. It may happen based on our own misunderstanding of the information or of the question asked. It can occur when we are tired. It may happen because we simply don’t know and thought we did. But it will happen. Truth be told (and I hate to admit this) even parents don’t know everything. As a result, we will share inaccurate information with our children at times. (For more, read The Perfectly Inadequate Parent.) But here’s one of the beautiful aspects of developing and nurturing a secure relationship with our children, one built on trust and reliability. When we make a mistake and share inaccurate information, they will recognize our intent to share accurate information. They will remember our character and integrity. Most importantly, they will act on our intent and our character, not the inaccurate information. They will correct any inaccurate or incomplete information we might have accidentally shared. (See An Amazing Parenting Insight Learned in Three Parts.) They will correct our inaccuracies and continue to love us, respect us, trust us, and turn to us.

Another benefit of inaccurate or misleading information involves strangers. When our children have a secure relationship with us, hearing inaccurate information helps them learn how to assess the reliability of a person and the extent to which they can trust that person. In other words, based in a secure relationship with a parent, inaccurate information helps our children learn discernment. That discernment will protect them from people who might try to take advantage of them through the dissemination of inaccurate information. It will protect them in this age of misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy. In this way, inaccurate information can benefit our children…but only if they have a secure relationship with a trusted and dependable parent. Start building and nurturing that relationship with your child today. It will help them develop the discernment they need for a lifetime.

“If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say”…& Other Nuggets of Wisdom

Do you remember any sayings and proverbs you learned in childhood? They may have come from Aesop’s Fables or a children’s story like Pinocchio or Proverbs in the Bible. Maybe you heard them from teachers, your parents, scout leaders, coaches, or any number of other adults. They were proverbs that encouraged certain behaviors…behaviors that promoted personal character and corporate civility. Several such sayings came to my mind the other day as I listened to the daily rhetoric of the news. I felt a twinge of sadness and realized how desperately we need the wisdom of these proverbs in our world today. With that in mind, maybe we need to start by reviving them in our families. We begin by teaching them to our children and modeling them in our lives.  In case you need a reminder, here are just a few of my favorites.

  • “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Ironically, this saying seems to have two meanings. One, if you live in a glass house (are vulnerable) don’t throw stones at the guy who lives in a brick house. In other words, “don’t dish it out if you can’t take it” (which is another saying). On the other hand, we all live in glass houses, don’t we?  We all have our own vulnerabilities. Before we start casting stones at another person’s faults, we need to take a good look at our own. Or, in the words of another saying, “Take the log out of your own eye before you worry about the splinter in the other guy’s eye.” We desperately need to consider all three sayings in our world today.
  • “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Other than hearing it from my mother, I heard it first from Thumper on Bambi. (By the way, Thumper also has a nice quote about “families that play together.” See them both in this short clip.) Wouldn’t it be nice to hear a little more of “saying nothing” today?
  • Another truth heard in a Disney movie came from the Blue Fairy. She told Pinocchio that “A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as clear as the nose on your face.” You’ve heard the flip side of this proverb in the more popular “honesty is the best policy.” A little more truth and a few shorter noses on the faces of our local Pinocchio’s faces would definitely improve our lives around here.
  • Of course, we can’t forget “Actions speak louder than words” or “He who does a thing well does not need to boast.”  Aesop’s fable of The Boasting Traveler drives this point home. Tell it to your family over dinner or watch it in ChirpyStory. It’s a great reminder to not boast.
  • “There are two sides to every story and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.” I’d always heard “there are two sides to every story” to encourage me to listen to other people’s ideas.  But experience has taught me the rest of the saying, that “the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.”  Our extremist world would definitely benefit from learning to listen to both sides of a story and then seeking the whole truth.

There are many more proverbs we need to put into practice. We need to teach our children these proverbs and sayings. We need to practice them in our own lives in the presence of our children. As we do, our families will benefit from the wisdom of the ages. Perhaps our children will carry these proverbs into their adulthood and our whole society will benefit from the wisdom of the ages. Let’s start practicing them today. Maybe you have other favorites you think our families would benefit from practicing. Share them below so we can all learn from the wisdom of the ages.

An Amazing Parenting Insight Learned in Three Parts

I love research with infants. I find research it amazing and so very informative…and funny at times. One of my favorite studies is unpublished and came in three parts. I heard a conference speaker describe it. Let me share it with you.

vater und tochter haben spaßPart 1.
An infant is seated in an appropriate chair at a table on which two toys rest. An adult enters the room and sits at the table across from the infant. He makes eye contact with the infant. He interacts and connects with the infant. After the relationship is established, the researcher picks up a toy and engages the infant in play with that toy. Then he puts the toy back in its spot and leaves. A second adult enters the room. He, too, makes eye contact with the infant. He engages the infant in an interaction. After the connection is established, he looks quizzically at the two toys and then at the infant. The infant turns to and reaches for the toy the first adult had play with. Together, the infant and second adult enjoy playing with that toy. Part one, in and of itself, is not surprising so far, but…

Part 2. Again, an infant is seated in an appropriate chair at a table on which two toys rest. An adult enters the room and sits at the table across from the infant. He does NOT make eye contact with the infant. He does NOT engage the infant in an interaction. He does NOT connect in any way with the infant. He simply picks up a toy and plays for a short time, returns the toy to its spot, and leaves. A second adult enters the room. He makes eye contact with the infant, engages the infant in an interaction, and enjoys a connection with the infant. He then looks quizzically at the two toys and the infant. The infant does not respond by pointing out a toy. The infant does not seem to know which toy to pick. Without a connection, the infant did not learn which toy was best. He did not learn which toy to pick and has nothing to share with the second adult. We learn best from those with whom we have a relationship, not strangers. But, there is another, even more intriguing twist ahead in…

Part 3 (my favorite part). Same scenario—an infant sits at a table that has two toys on it. An adult sits across the table, makes eye contact with the infant and engages the infant in an interaction. Once the connection is established, the adult picks up a toy and begins to play with it. But he looks bored with the toy. He does not enjoy the toy. It was a poor choice for him. He puts the toy back in its spot and leaves. A second adult comes in and established contact with the infant. Once the connection is established, he looks from toy to toy and then to the infant. The infant picks a toy for the adult…but NOT the one the first adult was bored with. He picks the other toy! The infant recognized the first adult’s boredom and corrected for his choice when helping the second adult.


Think about what this means for our parenting practices. Our children need us to interact with them and connect with them before they learn from us. They learn out of relationship. When we have a relationship with our children, they even learn from our mistakes and can correct for that mistake in the future. You might ask, “So what?” If I were only concerned with toys, I would ask the same thing. However, if this is true for toys it is likely true for behaviors like hard work and kindness as well. It is probably true for attitudes like politeness and generosity. It is likely needed to pass on values like love and compassion. Our children need us to connect with them and form relationships with them so they can learn the important behaviors, attitudes, and values of life. In other words, our relationship with our children will shape the tomorrow in which we grow old. What kind of tomorrow will your relationship with your children create?

A Dozen Lessons Our Children Need to Learn

Family shepherds want to teach their children important life lessons. Here are 12 lessons I believe important.
  • The greatest pleasures in life are earned through hard work and patience.
  • Relationships require effort, kindness, patience, and forgiveness.
  • It is alright to struggle, experience frustration, and even fail. In fact, failure is the seed of success.
  • Treat others as you would have them treat you…even if they do not treat you that way.
  • Success is about effort and perseverance, not performance and achievement.
  • Politeness goes a long way…in other words, “you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.”
  • The world is full of choices. Don’t let those choices overwhelm you. Instead, learn to be content with the basic necessities…anything more is a gift.
  • Practice generosity and gratitude every day.
  • If you are not happy where you are, move!
  • You will encounter situations in your life and the world that you will not like. You can complain, in which case nothing will get any better; or, you can work to make your life better. Work to make your life better! 
  • Freedom comes to the person who acts responsibly.
  • You can not clean up the world’s problems until you learn to clean up your room.
What lessons would you add to this list?

My Life Is About To Change

Please, allow me a slight digression from my usual blog. This is a transitional week for my family…my life is about to change! Yes, the time has come for my oldest daughter to graduate from high school. We are very proud of her. She is bright and intelligent, a lovely person and a talented musician. She has been accepted to college and, when she leaves home this fall, will major in piano performance. You can listen to her playing a classical piece (The Revolutionary Etude) by clicking here and a song she wrote using the poem Annabelle Lee by clicking here. She dreams of playing in an orchestra for Hans Zimmer. Did I mention…we are very proud of her. Still, so many thoughts go through my mind as I prepare to “launch” my child into the world. I have to remind myself that she is moving into adulthood and making her own decisions now. And, she has shown us that she will make good decisions. Still, there is one word of advice I think important for her (and all those graduating from high school) as she prepares to build her life in the world. It is the same message that Jesus taught Mary and Martha during His life on earth. Perhaps you remember…Jesus came to their house for dinner. Martha was “distracted” with everything that had to get done. She became annoyed with Mary who just sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to what He said. Finally, in frustration she asked Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” I love Jesus’ response: “Martha, you are worried and bothered by so many things; but only one thing is necessary…!”
As you go off to college (or high school or work or hobbies) many things will try to pull you away from the “only thing necessary.” Good people and good opportunities, great employment opportunities and even ministry opportunities can distract you from the “only thing necessary.” Negative influences and negative experiences will threaten to distract you from the “only thing necessary.” Don’t let them. Keep your heart and mind focused on the “only thing necessary.” You can still practice the instrument (or art or vocation) you love. In fact, you can practice that instrument, grow in that interest, or master that vocation with “the only thing necessary” in the forefront of your mind. As you go through the next several years, you will find things that do not make sense. You will feel overwhelmed. You will wonder why you have to keep that “only thing necessary” as a priority in your life. That’s OK; keep that “only thing necessary” in the forefront of your mind anyway. You will discover that those things that don’t make sense or make you wonder will often “fall into place” as you trust and obey that “only thing necessary.”
You have probably figured out what that “only thing necessary” is, but let me clarify. The “only thing necessary” is what Mary chose…sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Remember, after all is said and done, the “only thing necessary” is your relationship with Jesus Christ. That “only thing necessary” has eternal import. Pursue that relationship with Jesus (“the only thing necessary”) with all the vigor of pursuing a new love…or a new Rachmaninoff Prelude or a Chopin etude. No, pursue your relationship with Jesus with even more vigor than that! After all, “only one thing is necessary…and it will not be taken away…,” ever!