Friday, February 25, 2011

Training our children, Giving a gift

I was visited by a mommy friend of mine today. She has the usual concerns about her children and about whether she has done well in her parenting thus far. I am older and have been parenting a lot of years. Because of this I get  a lot of questions from other mothers. I would like to share here what I share with those who ask me parenting questions in person. I have a couple of caveats. First, I am not a great parent. I parent with all my might and I want to do well, but I fail often. Secondly, my children are no better than yours. They are all flesh beings with a sin nature. Once they become born again, they begin to battle against this sin nature, but like you and me, their flesh is fallen and sometimes they lose to it.

I am going to give you the three encouragements I share in person. 1. The purpose of parenting and Biblical discipline is to train children to repent and to teach them how to relate to their heavenly Father. 2. Be careful not to parent your children in such a way as to prove a point to your parents. 3. Realize that teaching your child how to spend eternity in heaven is the best gift you can give them followed closely by teaching them to be enjoyable company.

Our Heavenly Father says in His word that he will chasten us if He loves us. He says that if He doesn't chasten us we are bastards. Similarly, if we we choose not to chasten our children it is evidence that we do not love them as we should. Regardless of our personal style, whether we are prone to be interactive or laissez  faire, God calls us to get in the way of our children when they sin. We are to discipline them even if they don't make us angry and we are to discipline them fairly even when we are angry. When we discipline our children based on their behavior, not on our emotions, we are able to be consistent.

When we are disciplining our children, we need to train them how to interact with God. Discipline should bring grief to the child and then repentance. A child who is angry over his consequence is NOT repentant. After the child has repented, i.e. turned in sorrow away from their sin, that child needs to be restored into loving fellowship. In our house that means hugged, kissed and told that they are loved and forgiven. If you will think about it, this is how our Father disciplines us. The discipline is grievous, but the restoration is sweet. So many people on this Earth do not know how to come to the Father. They are stuck in some type of religious tradition or a hateful religion with a god they imagine to be fickle or angry with them. Their mistaken ideas about God are not based upon the Bible but upon the ideas of who God is that they got from the actions of their parents or other adults. Our children should learn of God from us and the Bible. If we discipline well, we are accurately portraying through our actions a long suffering, yet consistent and forgiving God.

Many parents discipline or choose not to discipline based upon how they were or were not parented. If their parents were in their opinion, too strict or abusive, they may choose to withhold  needful discipline from their children in the name of not repeating their parent's mistakes. This is like refusing to feed your children because your parents fed you junk food. We must choose to follow God's plan for our lives regardless of what our parents did or did not do. Likewise, children of permissive parents may react by being overly punitive and mean.We should discipline kindly, consistently and with the purpose of teaching our children how to respond to their maker regardless of how we were parented.

If we teach our children to love the Lord and have an accurate understanding of who God is, we encourage them to come to the knowledge of God's saving grace. This is our goal and our greatest gift to our children. In addition to this, we should teach our children to be enjoyable company. If we train our children to prefer others, to be kind and tenderhearted, to live without strife and anger and to live as good examples for others, we are setting them up for a better chance at success in Christian life. It was once said that God has no grand children and this is true, we all choose to enter into a salvation relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ or not. However, if we train up our children in the way they should go, if they enter into adulthood free from addictive behaviors, able to postpone gratification, willing to submit to authority graciously and able to put the needs of others first without anger and strife, their ability to walk well with God will be greatly improved.

Christian parenthood is the greatest calling in the world. May God give us strength and wisdom to do it well.


1 comment:

Mary Ann said...

I really enjoyed this and have to say I am now at the joyous stage in life of reaping rewards for being a "mean mom". By this I mean teaching my children not to follow the norm of the world, or legalism of a church(some churches) but really thinking about what God says. I am so thankful they run to Him, they know the WORD and they now are thankful for their raising. They actually ask for advice.It is blessed, a gift from God.
Hang in there young mothers, the best is yet to come.