Raising Little Heroes

Raising Little Heroes

Instilling Honor in Your Children

by Leslie Ludy | November 1, 2012

Last week Harper (age 4) decided that she wanted to kiss Hudson “on the lips” instead of just on the cheek. She proposed the idea as we were all eating breakfast. “Can I kiss Hudson on the lips?” she asked, her expression filled with childlike innocence. (After all, if Mommy and Daddy can kiss on the lips, why couldn’t she kiss Hudson that way?)

Hudson (age 6) looked up from his food and thought about it for a minute. Then, he turned to Harper and said in a firm, somewhat patronizing tone, “Save it for your husband Harper!” and went back to eating his toast. It was an absolutely hilarious moment that I will forever wish we had on film. Though Hudson was not necessarily tender or sensitive in his approach, we caught a glimpse of the “protector of purity” that we are training him to become in his sister’s life. Hudson doesn’t really yet know anything about sexuality or purity. However, he seems to have picked up on the fact that certain things are meant to be held sacred for marriage.

“I know you want to marry me Harper,” he told her matter-of-factly a few minutes later. “But you can’t. You gotta find a different husband.” Hmmm. Not exactly the way I would recommend him speaking to the ladies, but still, even at this young age, he’s catching a vision for honor. This is encouraging, because as a parent you often wonder how much of your instruction is actually sticking. It’s easy to focus on all the areas in which they are falling short, all the things you still need to work on in your children’s lives and hearts. But I am finding that when they grow up in an environment that protects honor and purity, they begin to think and reason from a standpoint of honor, even without specific teaching on the subject.

It has been a huge blessing to have our children spend time around Ellerslie students. They have seen young men treating women with respect; they have observed guys and girls protecting purity and guarding the sacred, and this reinforces what they hear and observe in our home.

Hudson doesn’t always treat Harper as a gentleman should. One moment he’s valiantly protecting her from rowdy kids on the playground, and the next he’s hitting her over the head with a plastic fire truck, demanding that she share her toys. We have a lot more training to do. But it’s encouraging to see little glimpses of honor emerging from his life – like exhorting Harper to save her first real kiss for her future husband. It’s given me renewed passion for training up a little hero; one who protects a woman’s purity instead of conquering it!

Even with all our children being under the age of six, there are plenty of opportunities for honor training. Here are some of the practical things we’re doing right now to instill honor in our children’s lives:

Setting an Example of Honor in the Home

In our book The First 90 Days of Marriage, Eric and I write about a lie that many young married couples have fallen prey to – that marriage is the time when you can finally “let it all hang out.” There are plenty of jokes about men who burp, scratch, and pack on the pounds and women who stop shaving their legs or wearing makeup once the wedding vows are spoken. And sadly, it is all too true. There is a common assumption that once you have “locked in” your spouse’s commitment to you, you no longer need to work to win his or her heart, that you can now be sloppy and careless, throwing all dignity and honor to the wind. This attitude, if cultivated, quickly transfers into the arena of parenting. The majority of young moms I encounter habitually look (and act) like slobs, using the justification, “My family doesn’t care what I wear or how I act.”

This approach disregards the value of guiding a home, caring for a family, and being a godly wife. It makes home life mundane, unromantic, and yes, dishonorable. It’s nearly impossible to raise your children to become little ladies and gentleman if your own standards for honor are dismally low. So, Eric and I make it a very high priority to set the example for our children by building honor into our marriage and home life. We speak words that edify each other. We don’t put each other down or joke about each other’s faults. We are quick to ask forgiveness for wrongs. We treat each other with respect by listening when the other person is talking, showing interest in what they are saying, and looking for ways to encourage them. We don’t “let it all hang out” and allow crudeness into our behavior patterns, even when it’s just the two of us alone together. We protect each other’s privacy. We take time to look nice for each other. These are all simple habits that, by the grace of God, we’ve been able to cultivate and model to our children. Of course, we are not perfect in all of these areas all of the time, but we take our position very seriously before God as role models of honor to our children. And as we yield ourselves to the Spirit of God, He enables us to live out His pattern for honor – something we could never accomplish in our own strength.

Because of the consistent example in our home, Hudson is always jarred whenever he encounters little boys who are obnoxious, rude, and crude. It’s a startling contrast to what he’s used to. Something about it feels very wrong to him. And that’s how we want it to be.

Teaching Gentlemanly and Ladylike Behavior

One thing you learn quickly as a parent is that children are naturally inclined to be little cave-people; spitting out their food, screaming just to be heard, snatching toys out of their siblings’ hands, and interrupting every adult conversation. Honorable behavior is the opposite of what comes naturally to them. So, it must not only be modeled, but diligently taught.

Eric has a special time with Hudson every Tuesday, when he teaches him how to become a Christ-like gentleman. As he was preparing for these training times, Eric drafted thirteen principles of gentlemanly honor, which he continually teaches and reinforces to Hudson in creative and practical ways. Here is the list:

Always Demonstrate Honor (no rude behavior)

Live a Clean and Orderly Life

Be an Alert and Enthusiastic Student

See What Needs to be Done, and Do it!

No Grumbling, No Complaining

Protect the Little Guy, Train to Defend the Weak

Don’t be a Pushover to Pain

If you Make a Mistake, Make it Right, and Quick

Always Tell the Truth

Show Respect for Authority

Be Extremely Generous

Eat What is Set Before You

Face the Creepy Crawleys with Confidence (don’t be a wimp)

We’ve told Hudson that when he begins to excel in these behaviors on a consistent basis, he will be ready to go on rescuing missions overseas with Daddy. He takes his hero-training very seriously. It’s not a list of “dos and don’ts” he’s forced to follow, but rather an exciting vision for what God wants Him to become.

Harper and I have been going to tea at Nana’s house. She gets to wear a pretty dress and learn how to sit properly at the table, show gratitude to Nana for her hospitality, and cultivate the art of gracious, dignified femininity.

All of our children have a time each evening when they practice sitting still, calmly with their hands in their lap. When any of them begins to slouch, flop, or squirm, we say, “Sit up like a lady!” or “Sit like a gentleman!” and they immediately respond.

Gentleman and lady training is a primary focus in the Ludy home. They certainly aren’t the finished product in any of these honorable behavior patterns. In fact, they are only beginning to learn them. However, one thing I do know is that they are catching a clear vision for the men and women of honor God desires to shape them into.

As parents, God asks us to speak of His pattern to our children diligently and continually: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:7).

It’s a big responsibility, but with it comes a big reward: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

The world is in desperate need of Christ-built heroes who will showcase heavenly honor to this dying generation. One of our greatest desires is for our children to be counted among them.*

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