2 Important Lessons for Oldest Children

There are times when I think my oldest gets so wrapped up in being responsible. She seems to expect too much from herself. She gets frustrated with her siblings when they don’t listen or when they’re being goofy. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.

First of all, I’m her father. Her mother and I are responsible for what happens in our family, for good or bad. We all make decisions that have consequences. But her mom and I are accountable for all the decisions that get made. It is our responsibility to shape her as she grows. Part of that shape is what she makes of her own life. Part of it is her being my kid.

I Believe in Her

I hope she believes me when I tell her I don’t expect too much from her. It’s not because I think she’s irresponsible or that she can’t handle it. It’s because she has her entire life to be responsible. As she grows up, she’ll start making decision on her own.

How will she spend her time?

Where will she work?

What degree and college does she want?

But that is a few years off. Too few actually. Until she is responsible for her own decisions, I will be responsible for her decisions. When she fails, I hope she goes easy on herself. I have her back, and I will help her figure it out for next time. When she fails, we will face the failure together.

When she fails, we will face the failure together. #flourishingfamily Click To Tweet

Making Good Decisions

As she grows, I will try to teach her more about making good decisions. I will teach her how to be a good employee, how to change a flat, and how to lead others. It’s frustrating that growing up means taking on more responsibilities, but I will do everything I can to let her be a kid.

While I’m thinking about that, I also don’t want to make things easy for her. My job is not to cushion her every fall and take away the sting of defeat. We need to feel that sting to make ourselves better. Plus that’s the MO of every helicopter parent. Protect and insulate at all costs!

What I’m talking about is her feeling that as the oldest she’s third in charge. While there is a pecking order in our home, she’s still a kid, and I want her to be free to be one. She should be free to put spaghetti in her hair or lima beans in her nostrils. I want her to let her siblings whine a little and not have to crack down on them. I’ve apparently demonstrated that for her, and I regret it.

The Important Lessons

If there are lessons I want her to learn, it’s less about being boss, being in charge. The more important lessons are in Proverbs 3.

Solomon was a pretty smart dude. He wrote a couple of books full of great lessons in life. Proverbs 3 has a few that I want her to focus on.

Proverbs 3:1-2—Don’t forget the lessons from your parents

Her mom and I do our best to teach her deliberately. We try to take every teachable moment we can so that she will learn the lesson of the moment. It’s probably been excessive at times. I tend to teach, even when I don’t mean to.

These verses are telling us to try to remember as much as we can about the lessons we were taught. One day our kids will need our lessons, and we won’t be next to them to remind them. I remember several lessons from my parents.

Bridges freeze first.

Don’t trust sales people.

Can’t isn’t in our vocabulary.

I recall their lessons in my times of need. Hopefully, the wisdom we give her will be helpful when she chooses to recall it. Verse 2 says that if we remember what our parents teach us, we’ll live a long time and be abundantly well off. That’s a promise I can get on board with for myself.

Proverbs 3:3-4—Be loyal and faithful

This is such a good reminder. Most of the shortcomings I see in people stem from a lack of loyalty and faithfulness. Is someone a bad employee? They probably aren’t very committed. Is someone a bad spouse? They too are probably not committed.

Solomon knew that all people, the wise and unwise, are led by their hearts. As a father, it’s my responsibility to guide her in faithfulness. In this case, faithfulness is about being dependable and trustworthy and having our hearts pointed in the right direction. I want those that aren’t dependable to look so foreign that she avoids them. I want her to examine her thoughts and feelings to see whether she is a faithful person in every situation in her life…when she’s ready.

Examining her life will come later. For now, she should just be a kid. But there is a promise in verse 4. When we are loyal and faithful, God and others will give us favor and we will have a good reputation. My oldest doesn’t know what it’s like to be favored yet. She will one day. Someday, a boss or a leader will see how special she is. This leader will see that she is committed and consistent and go out of her way to do good to my daughter. That is favor I want for my kids.

Do you remember any lessons from your parents? Please comment below with your thoughts, and thanks for reading.
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7 thoughts on “2 Important Lessons for Oldest Children

  1. Hey Chip, I like the lessons you shared from your parents. 🙂 The insight from Proverbs 3 is amazing, especially to be loyal and faithful…attributes hard to find sometimes in others. I pray the Lord develop and grow them in me…that both loyalty and faithfulness would lead my heart. Solomon was a wise man, and you have sound wisdom and insight as well. Karen

    1. Thanks, Karen. I like to think that I’m leading my kids with wisdom and insight. It’s usually only something I see when I look back. In the moment, some of my “wisdom” turns out to be wrong. Thankfully there’s grace to cover my missteps.

  2. Hmm… I have an oldest, too, and you described him well. He expects people to behave rightly or do the right thing and gets wound up when they don’t. He’s the type who, when a high school teacher shrugged off the difficulties of those with disabilities in her own classroom, would say, “They’re people , too, Mrs. _____.” But he’s also the type who would get in someone’s face when they pull an illegal move on his dad in a hockey game. Yep, our firstborns need our intentional parenting. They need God’s parenting, too, and there were many times when my wife and I would throw up our arms, then bow on our knees because we just can’t be everything we need to be. We have relied on God’s care for our son and he is now out of the house, earning his own living, and following God who is his personal God in addition to his parents’ God. All the times he veered off course, God met him and ushered him back. Praise Him for that.

    1. That’s fantastic, Stephen! I pray I’m able to look at my kids and know I raised them in the fear of the Lord. Ultimately, I can only do my best, and I’ll leave it to God to tell their stories. But thankfully, God is gracious and merciful. He was to me, and I’ll trust he is to them (particularly my oldest). Thanks for commenting!

  3. This is so good! I am the oldest of 8. I had a little bit different dynamic which made it inevitable for me to be responsible at a very young age. I used to feel like I was the mother of 9!
    I think it is wonderful that you desire and allow your oldest to be a child. That period is so short and should be enjoyed to the fullest, since we can never get that precious time back. I really like the lessons you’ve shared here. I wish all “oldest” kids & their parents would read it. Very helpful advice indeed. God bless you!

    1. Thanks, Juanita. I’d like to think it’s helpful. My oldest is growing up so fast, and she tends to be ultra-responsible. But I want her to relax and enjoy not being responsible sometimes. In any case, I love her deeply, and I want to grow her into a good woman. Thanks for commenting!

  4. All of these comments have been very enlightening. I identifiy with the characteristics described, and recognize areas that I need to improve in. I appreciate your efforts in sharing with your readers. Thanks.

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