5 Tests You Need to Run

Shortly after getting married, my wife and I were in the market for a new home. We had only rented as single young adults and in our first year of marriage, so we thought home buying would be a nice, short process. Find a home, negotiate a price, then sign a few lines. Simple. What we soon realized was this was much more complicated (mostly for good reason) than we had anticipated. One thing in particular stuck out to me during the inspection process: the radon test. The inspector left a device in the home for a few days to get multiple readings to make sure our home was safe.

To this day, I still don’t really know what radon is. But what I do know is that it takes a specific test to find it. Although this test was for our home to make sure things were safe and healthy, there are several “tests” we can use to ensure we’re raising healthy children and that they’re heading in the right direction. Here are 5.

1. The Smell Test

As a teenager, one of my friends’ parents introduced a new rule. He was allowed to stay out until midnight, but he had to give his mom a kiss on the cheek goodnight as soon as he got home. We later found out that this was her way of doing a “smell test” when he got home. She could quickly get a smell of his clothes and breath without him thinking she was inspecting him upon his arrival. This quick test gave her peace that he had stayed out of trouble and was at the places he said he’d be.

Typically, whatever is in our hearts will eventually come out of our mouths.

2. The Language Test

Typically, whatever is in our hearts will eventually come out of our mouths. Listening carefully to what our kids are saying, how they’re saying it, and the body language associated will give us one of the best summaries of how they’re doing. Be intentional to put the phone down, clear your mind from work, and focus on your kids when you have the opportunity. Having some family routines around a meal or bedtime will help set aside daily moments to listen.

3. The Social Test

This may be the most obvious of tests as you begin to allow your kids access to social media. Even if your kids aren’t on social media yet, their friends may be. Following your kids and their friends on social media gives you a great opportunity to support the positive things they’re sharing but also to stay aware of what they’re engaging with. Their engagements will be great indicators of their passions and what is influencing them. Side note: Be careful not to fall for their “finsta” accounts (fake Instagram) that pose as perfect, parent-approved content.

4. The Gut Test

Have you ever felt like something was wrong—you had a gut feeling, but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it? It’s almost instinctual to get that gut feeling just before bad news hits but, at times, we can get it randomly without knowing why. As we’re raising healthy children, that feeling needs to become our signal to increase our awareness of our kids, what they’re doing, and who they’re with. In these moments, be intentional to increase your one-on-one time and open more opportunities for communication.

5. The Eye Test

Has your son started hanging out with a new group of friends? Has your daughter dramatically changed her wardrobe to a totally new style? These aren’t necessarily bad but a reminder to look a little closer. Hobbies, friends, and interests will be ever changing as our kids grow up, but there can be times those changes cause them to ignore what they know to be right in exchange for acceptance into the new group.

Sound off: What do you think raising healthy children takes?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it’s important to always try to do the right thing?”