“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 is my favorite Bible verse about raising children. First, let’s recognize this scripture for what it is, sage advice not a command from God. What many people fail to recognize is this verse is a double edged sword. Now, let’s move on to the fun part. How are you training your children? Is what you are teaching your children what you want them to take into adulthood?
The best time to decide how you plan to train your children is before they are born. For hubby and I, we realized some aspects were going to be more important to one of us, so that person would have preference on that issue. For example, Dennis found dinner as a family to be a hot ticket issue for him and was adamant this was the family norm. I do not feel as strongly about this particular issue so we went with his inclination. Dinner is now a wonderful time for conversation, where we discuss the Bible, talk about our day, or quiz the children about whatever subjects they are learning in school.
Another decision we made before our babies were born, was to be loud when the babies were sleeping. Though unwilling to create superfluous noise while our newborns slumbered we often found this to be the appropriate time to turn up the tv or vacuum every room in the house. I know, I know, most parents prefer to create a quiet environment for their little ones to sleep in, but let me tell you this is a habit you are creating in your child. My babies fall asleep despite noise because we have trained them to sleep through the mayhem.
Name calling does not carry weight in our home. I can guess what you are thinking and no, I do not call my children stupid, or swear words, this is not what I am referring to. What I mean is I call my children random ridiculous names. For example, Mr. Sniffles, or puffybum, or squish, or whatever other random word comes out of my mouth. When my kids come home and say so-and-so called them a dork I ask them, is it any worse than when I call you McGooberhead? Usually, the answer is no, my children have been desensitized from name calling, insults flung their way roll off their shoulders and far far away.
Dennis and I lead by example. Whether my children notice or not, we work hard in everything we do to show them how hard they need to work as well. With three children, I managed a college degree with high honors. My children saw me receive A after A for grades as I went the extra mile for each assignment. I made sure to announces my grades to them, slowly these little achievements will build up in their subconscious as information to fall back on in their own future endeavors.
Now, of course, we teach our children to pray, to follow Jesus’ lead, and to seek the guidance of the Bible. This is the most important training for our children, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Along with this we train them to “…Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40). Hubby and I exert ourselves to show our little ones to love everyone despite who they are or what they do. We are not called to be judges. We teach them to love the person and not to love the sin. We ensure our children are aware we are fallible. We do not ever attempt to appear perfect in our children’s eyes. We need them to understand everyone “…falls short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
Remember earlier I said Proverbs 22:6 might be a double-edged sword? Let’s examine aspect. When you train your children they will keep that training into adulthood. If you train your children that you will clean up all their messes they will expect you to continue cleaning their messes when they are adults. If you train your kids to only ever put in the bare minimum effort to get a job done, they will continue this practice into adulthood.
Children are sponges and they soak up everything they see you do whether you realize this or not. For example, I spend quality time on electronics, as does my hubby, and well almost every adult in the country. This is the way of the times. Guess what my children do? They follow my example and are addicted to electronics. This is something I am forcing myself to work on so I can improve the example I set for my children to change the habits they will carry into adulthood.
Another area I fall short on as a human being, especially as a stay-at-home-mom is cleaning. I tend to leave trash out and forget to throw it away, or allow shoes to be worn on my carpet, or shoes piled up next to the couch, and bathrooms may go a little longer than necessary without a deep clean. I recognize this and strive to change these bad behaviors in myself. Remember what GI Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.” Figure out where your shortcomings are for awareness of how your faults are hindering your children.
Parents must understand every day we are training our children. Parents should examine what they are teaching their children and if this training is applicable to being an asset in adulthood or a hindrance. If you do not have children but plan to, now is the time to sit down with your spouse and decide how you plan to train your children. Already a parent? Now, is the time to sit down with your spouse and decide if you are training your children to be Godly adults who will be an asset to their community. Don’t forget, your Bible is a training manual!