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5 Life Lessons I Learned Before I Was 10

My parents and grandparents had little sayings they repeated while I was growing up, likely accompanied by a little eye rolling from us kids. One ditty my Dad trotted out often was,

“Some people are so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good.”

It took some time for me to understand what he meant back then (though it obviously stuck with me). He was a pastor, and I have a feeling this sentiment was in response to the self-righteous attitudes directed his way from time to time by certain church members (or when they’d tell him how they’d seen me whispering and passing notes in church–there’s that. Sorry, Dad.).

I had a lot of responses to a post I wrote called Is the Internet Making Us Mean?  While discussing the topic with my husband later, we came to a conclusion–ironically, while watching “Survivor”–that it’s not just a social media problem…it’s basic manners in general. Behaviors we were taught as a matter of course when we were young seem absent today.

Rather than lament “this younger generation,” though, it brought to mind some of the little sayings and lessons I grew up with–ones I hope I’ve passed on to my own kids. Most of these were caught, rather than taught. I’m not even going to pretend I learned these lessons perfectly, but there was the comfort of knowing a structure was in place, an under-girding of civility that I find missing in many daily interactions now. Here are a few of mine– I’m sure you can come up with more!

5 Lessons I Learned Before I Was 10

1. Treat others as you wish they’d treat you. 

Not how they deserve, not how they treated you, but how you wish to be treated. We used to call this the Golden Rule. It’s taking the high road, being the bigger person. It doesn’t mean they deserve it! Simply that you aren’t going to waste your time on vindictive, petty behavior.

2. Change what you can; leave the rest.

“If you can’t change the world, you can move the furniture.” Apparently, my great-grandmother repeated this enough that it became a saying of her daughter, then my dad, and now me. I was a grown person before I fully realized how beautiful this simple saying was: you may not be able to fix everything, but you can make a change and add some beauty to your little corner of the world.

3. Take turns. 

Whether it’s toys or playmates or even conversation, it’s not all about you. You’re not the center of the universe; neither am I. I absolutely love social media because I’m a social person. But I wonder about this generation we’re raising that is now conditioned to instant gratification: How many likes can I get on this selfie I posted? I’m guilty sometimes, and I bet you are, too! But taking your turn out of the limelight is ok and even necessary.

4. Flush the dang toilet. 

You are probably thinking, what is wrong with this woman? But walk into any public restroom and then let’s talk. Or live with boys. ‘Nuff said. This boils down to picking up after yourself, taking responsibility for the messes you create, being considerate. (It’s a wonder, the lessons one can learn from nasty public toilets!)

5. Be careful. 

Every time I ran out the door to play, one parent or another would call out, “Be careful!” I probably wasn’t very. But it was nice to know someone cared about my overall well being and loved me enough to express concern. I learned to not only be careful of myself, but to let others know I cared for them, too, even in the simplest of ways.

Honestly? So many lessons we learned as children are worth remembering as adults: be kind, don’t make everything about you, pick up after yourself.

Well played, Mom and Dad.


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Hi, I'm Jen!

As a military spouse of three decades and now the mom of an active duty son, my hope is to support you in your own military life. You’ll find help for your military marriage, deployments, PCS moves, and more!

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