Recently, the kids and I have been reading through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie books. In reading through them, I’ve enjoyed the many detailed accounts of things they did without the aid of modern machinery. Whether it’s how they built and furnished a cabin, dug a well, smoked and preserved meat, or raised their various crops, there have been countless times I’ve realized I would not have known how to do these things if I was in the same situation.

Today, if I don’t know how to do something, I can just look it up online. I can watch tutorials on YouTube or find some article or forum that gives answers or advice. But that’s a relatively new convenience. If you lived in the woods or on the prairie 150 years ago, you couldn’t just pull out your phone and look something up. And yet, they knew how to do plenty of things. And it’s been interesting for me to read about all their varied methods and techniques.

For them, this kind of knowledge was more than just interesting information. Many times it could impact their survival. If the food went bad because it wasn’t preserved right, they’d be in for a long winter. If they didn’t know to save the corn in the middle of a cold snap, they’d lose their crop. If they didn’t know how to test for gas at the bottom of the well when digging, they might die in the process. And since they didn’t have all the reference material we have at their fingertips—especially on the prairie—this kind of knowledge had to be passed down, and retained, from generation to generation. A father, a mother, a relative, a neighbor, passing along what they themselves had learned.

All of this has me thinking about the lessons I want to pass on to those coming after me, especially my children. Unlike most previous generations, they will have a wealth of information literally at their fingertips. If they need to learn how to do something, there will be resources for them. But having information and flourishing as a human are not the same. They may know lots of facts, for instance, but that’s not the same as knowing how to get along with others. They may get good grades, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ve developed good perspectives on work and life and faith and relationships.

They’ll have access to lots of information. But life is about more than just information. And I see part of my role as a parent to make sure some of these other kinds of lessons get passed along—lessons not found through an online search, but passed on from person to person, generation to generation. And although my children’s physical survival may not depend on these kinds of lessons, their flourishing in the world of tomorrow may.

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Question: What kinds of lessons do you want to pass on to those coming after you?