by: Cheryl Lacey Donovan
Our best example of parenting, God praises, advises nurtures, encourages, teaches, and trains us. Teaching our children to live a Christian life should be done by precepts and examples. Being both reliable and trustworthy are essential because our children depend on us to be there for them. Patience and compassion go hand in hand as they mirror the patience and mercy of God upon us His children.
Communicating our expectations to our children through destructive criticism, lack of quality time, and dysfunctional marriages and families, destroys the relationships between parents and their children. It is not so much what we say but how we say it. Emphasizing the right things in the right ways. means giving them wholesome instruction and admonishing them properly. Your children do not require material things, they require time. Your children should always know that you love them.
“Sticks and Stones may break your bones but words will never hurt me” doesn’t apply to parenting. Using words that deflate your child’s self worth will have a lasting effect on their lives. Telling your children they will never amount to anything will only become a self fulfilling prophecy. You have the power of life and death in your own tongue. Speak peace, love, joy, and happiness into their lives. If, you always say that your children are bad, then what do you expect them to be. Remind your children about what God says about them. Help them to see themselves through God’s eyes.
Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it Proverbs 22:6
This is the Bibles commission to parents. But what does training really mean? Leading your children by faith to Christ and being a consistent example to them is the first step in training. Difficult but effective, leading by example communicates our commitment to live out the truth and reality of Jesus in our lives. Defined more by what we don’t do than what we do as mothers, we must be diligent in our prayer life, in our church going, and in the way we interact with people on a daily basis. Knowing Christian doctrine, using Christian vernacular, and appearing Godly may fool outsiders, but it won’t fool your children and it won’t fool God. Seeing you as you really are, children are in the best position to be students of your life. Having the most insight into the relationship between what you say and what you do children become the best at deciphering hypocrisy from true Christian discipleship. Gossiping, lying to the bill collector, and constantly bashing our children’s father are all poor examples of our faith walk with God. In fact, the very message that these attributes send is one of hypocrisy.
Picking and choosing our sins, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t cuss, is more about us than it is about being Christ like. Memorizing scripture is good but a personal relationship with God is the ultimate goal. Morality is not the only gauge by which we are measured. The cemetery is full of people that didn’t do bad things. The question is, was their walk with God close enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
We can’t make Christ a reality to our children if He is not a reality to us. Practice what you want them to practice. Children follow and imitate us. “Do as I say not as I do” is a poor motto to follow if you want to raise Godly children. Remember to teach them by example; your example. Learning not brought about by both example and instruction will lead to a child that does not respect the parents. Living out the Christian life through the Holy Spirit will be instruction to your children that Christ is real. Are you creating a desire for God in your children?
Understanding the difference between discipline and punishment is important as well. Punishments are given as a penalty for an offense. It is usually handed out in hostility and frustration and produces fear and guilt. The child senses this and the outcome is compromised. What the child learns instead is that we should solve problems with physical punishment and degrade the object of our anger in the process. The child’s self image is diminished.
Discipline on the other hand is used to train and to correct. Discipline must be fair. It needs to be explained to and understood by the child if it is to be effective. Discipline must also be prompt, delivered as soon after the offense as possible. Finally, discipline must be terminal; no continued reminders, assured reacceptance. In an environment of discipline the child will learn life’s requirements in the context of love and concern. At this point training can take place. This approach has as its goal the development of responsible behavior. It communicates caring to the child. In an environment of true discipline, the child understands the importance of these requirements for their future, for God, and for society.
When training is done effectively and consistently, the rod of correction is seldom necessary. Take the time to train your children in the way they should go.