"I am Charlie." What are those values and what do they look like in our home?

Since 11:30 on January 7 when two masked men stormed into the Charlie Hebdo weekly magazine and assassinated 12 people, Paris has been glued to the TV or the radio.

The day before the French had been celebrating the Galettes des Rois. It commemorates Ephiphanie in the Christian tradition when three wise men from the East arrived in Bethlehem to worship the baby Jesus. Hidden in the flacky, frangipane-filled pastry is a “fève”, nowadays a porcelain figurine. The one who finds the “fève” in his piece gets crowned as king. Our (quasi) adult boys still vie for the crown.


And now Ahmed Merabet—a Muslim policeman and among the first of the victims in these Parisian attacks of last week—lies dead for having protected this satirical magazine who made fun of everyone who took a stand. Christians, Muslims, Jews, presidents, street people all succumbed to the ridicule of Charlie Hebdo’s pen and pencil.

As Suraj Lakhani Tweeted, “I cannot speak for Ahmed Merabet, but as a Muslim he may well have been offended by some of Charlie Hebdo's material. Regardless of this, he still gave his life to protect their right to free speech.... “

Values. They make a life worth living. They are worth dying for.

Many Parisians recognize these values in the slogan, “Je Suis Charlie.” I am Charlie.

On Sunday, I too was Charlie and joined 1.2 to 1.6 million fellow Parisians to take a stand for our values. The overcrowded metros brought hoards towards the “quartiers” of République, then Nation, the telling names of the squares where the “march” (we maybe progressed 10 meters every 10 minutes) began and ended. On the left bank of Paris, streets were empty.

Paris Jan 11 2015

Je Suis Charlie Paris

It was a memorable march. Many will cherish this moment of a nation coming together to uphold Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, the three French values. Others came to uphold freedom of speech...and of religion...and of choices.

"Je Suis Charlie” means different strokes for different folks.

I was glad to have shared this experience with one of my sons. A couple with whom we had shared a Galette des Rois the night before went as a family. Another friend returned home to bring his daughter to this “historic occasion.” (Unity among the French! Oops, maybe I am too much like Charlie, swift to denounce.)

This day represented standing up for our values.

Yet on my home, once I had left the crowds, Paris looked the same as before in the fading evening light. At night the Eiffel Tower still shines on the city and sparkles every hour on the hour. The Grande Roue at the Place de la Concorde (by where the kings sieged and next door to the American Embassy) continues to attract visitors for a ride around, around, and around again.

Will we change? What can be done?

From a parenting perspective, we can help our children grasp the meaning behind our values. Our beliefs act like a skeleton; our daily actions, words, silences, and facial expressions provide flesh to these bones. And the practice of our values in the face of challenge builds character muscle.

Paris Jan 11 2015What we believe impacts our actions. The best of the Bible on respect is exposed in the way followers of Christ treat people around us, beginning with our kids and spouse. (“”How can you mess up AGAIN?!” Hummmmm) The best of the Coran on justice demonstrates itself in the way you handle injustice done to you. The best of the Torah on hope shines through perseverance. Etc.

So I asked my boys what values does “Je Suis Charlie” represent for them and what they might look like in our home.


Son:  At home, tolerance is patience in training. “The stuff you do with Positive Discipline, Mom.  Recognizing that each of us kids has different capabilities.  You do that already.

Here’s what you don’t do well yet: Don’t always try to find a conclusion to a discussion because it feels like sermonizing. We are capable of making our own deductions...and it means that the conversation can continue. When you try to get in the last word, it’s like you are being intolerant to opposing viewpoints...even to our questions.”

You guessed it. There will fewer "in conclusion” statements in our home from now on!


In a house, non-violence shows up in the way parents discipline. They take the time to train and teach the kids to help them learn.

“It’s also not taking things personally because when you do, you just react...and not always calmly.” Nor intelligently, HE concluded.


Mom: “Well, I did not expect that! What do you mean? Respecting the speed limit and police, paying our taxes....” I was on the wrong playing field.

Son: “I was thinking more a sense of belonging to the family. Doing things together as a family.”

Mom: “What is one of your favorite things to do as a family?”

Son: “Watching a movie together.”

Mom: “Wow. Well, the next time you take a break and watch a video, will you invite bro and me?”

Son: “Sure!”

Courage to Withstand Peer Pressure

Son: “’Je Suis Charlie’ means not being scared to stick to your own opinions. To stand up to peer pressure.”

Mom: “Darling, what kind of pressures are you facing?" (He’s doing well in school, has friends, and made his pick team in sports.) "Girls?” I jumped to inquire of our young teen.

And through a mix of sentences, mono-syllable answers, and quirky expressions, he described the pressure to be physically attractive to his peers.

Mom: “How can I help you deal with this pressure?

Son: “DON’T!!!”

Mom: “I can pray. How can I pray for you?”

Son: “..... (silence). Can you ask me later?" (meek smile)

Frank Sinatra, today I'll let the kids have it their way.  No further comments.  A genuine smile.

Many, MANY, thanks to Ahmed Merabet who had that courage to withstand pressure and to fight with his life for the right to free speech, whether those words are kind or hurtful, true or not.

Discuss YOUR Values with Your Kids

Jon us for a free webinar where we'll lead you and your kids in getting a clear focus on your values and what they look like in your home.  Click here.

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