A long time ago my husband received this ‘dogs playing poker’ tie as a Christmas gift from his father. He loves it. Me? Well, I tolerate it. While this started as a gag gift from his father, my husband has adopted it as his Christmas tie. Despite my heavy sighs he proudly wears it around his neck every year (even to church services!). And every year we have a debate about whether or not this is a bad gift. My husband thinks it is the greatest. Sigh.

As parents it’s important to remember that we need to give our children more than cool gifts (or tacky neck ties). Some of the greatest gifts that we give our kids are the intangible lessons and instructions on life. I need that reminder. Sometimes life gets so busy with work and adult commitments that we can become tempted to substitute stuff for quality time, conversation, and instruction.

So, for all of you parents, the book of Proverbs says there are things that we should give our children to wear on their necks that rate much better than this neck tie. It says that we should equip our children with several things to wear around their necks and write on their hearts. Things like love and faithfulness (Proverbs 3:3); wisdom, understanding, judgement, and discernment (Proverbs 3:21, 22) and the teaching of commandments (Proverbs 6 20, 21).

Proverbs 6 continues to list why this type of training and instruction is so important. It’s what will guard them from immorality, improper seduction, lust, and inappropriate sexual relationships (Proverbs 6: 24-35). In other words, all of the things that my husband and I have struggled with.

Our children are 17, 8 and 6. Making time to talk to them and give them guidance on God’s commands about sex can be difficult. And I’ll be honest, sometimes it has been just plain awkward. But I know that it is one of the greatest gifts that we can give them. It’s the kind of gift that can shape their decisions, develop their morals, and change their lives. What an awesome responsibility!

Here’s my message to myself (and to you too): slow down. Let’s take the time to have long dialogs with our children about the things that are important. While they may appreciate a new toy or a dogs playing poker tie for a moment, the investments that we make when we speak to them about God’s commands will stay with them forever. These talks and this time spent is so important, especially with all the influences of the world around them. It’s certainly it’s the kind of gift that I wish I had been given. And my husband? Well, I think he would have preferred both the parental instruction AND the tie!