Some of my thoughts for/from today's real life lessons in parenting.
Actions spring from within the heart. So to fix a problem, aim for the heart.
Matthew 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Too often we get caught up with correcting the actions of a child or disciplining them for bad behaviour. I have found out since my eldest was young to look more for the attitudes and the motivations behind the actions. It has come a long way now that he is older.
If a child hits his sibling when he's angry, I would discipline the child for not controlling himself when he's angry, more than the actual action of hitting. Because, it is the anger that is the issue the child needs to resolve and not how it is acted out. It may be hitting this time, the next time it would be kicking, when he goes on uncorrected, he may one fine day take up a knife and kill someone. This is something I tell my angry, hitting child with all straight-facedness.
After the discipline (the rod) the child will apologize. I will explain to the child it is not "I'm sorry mama for hitting mei mei." But rather "I'm sorry mama that I did not control myself when I was angry."
And trust me, this scenario will be played out in the child's life (as well as our own lives) over and over in a multitude of situations. Recognize: Sin is the root problem. Greed, covetousness, discontentment, laziness, idolatry etc etc etc. When we get to the heart of the matter, we are one step closer to tackling the problem.
You know, the very best years to train a child is before the age of 5. That is when they will learn their boundaries, develop their character tendencies and form the sense of right and wrong.
From 5 to maybe age 9 - 11, (granted they are still following you from the foundation you have set in the earlier years) they can still be corrected and molded.
Beyond that, they will pretty much decide their own path. If they have subscribed to your values (your ways) it will show. If they have not assimilated your values as their own, it will also show. Whether you have a teen who will happily do your will, or if your teen is a compliant rebel, or a outright defiant rebel, it will eventually show. It is hard to hide the things we are really passionate about.
Now, by "train" I do not mean only the
negative, deterrent aspects of parenting like disciplining and caning.
The Bible says that the rod and reproof work hand in hand in the
training up of a child.
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
So, "training" also entails teachingGod's precepts day in, day out. Developing in them a love for God and His Word, developing godly character in the child.
Winning the heart of the Child is a Goal and Result of Successful Parenting
Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
This is the secret formula to the successful passing on of values: the parent must have his child's heart. By that, I believe the Bible would be alluding to the child's affection, adoration, deep respect, and importantly trust that you love him and always have his welfare at heart.
It is only when we have the heart of the child that the child will happily obey and observe and follow our ways- even when their flesh and sinful desires tell them otherwise. And when a child will be wise to obey his loving parents, therein will he find safety and protection and blessing. It is no coincidence that God also wants His children's hearts.
Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
Keeping and Winning a Child's Heart....Love Love Love and more Love
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
A critical, condemning spirit is never attractive. To think that God set aside His hate for sin to draw us with loving kindness! He didn't condemn us when we were disdainful in His sight but instead pitied us in our hopeless state, sent His Son to redeem us unto Himself. We can do no less for our children but to love them.
Keep the love relationship strong with each child. Yes, I need to remind myself to spend personal time with each child. When you have more than one child, and limited to 24 hours a day it is understandable that you can't spend like one hour with each child uninterrupted to the neglect of the other children. It doesn't make sense to me. Scheduling time with each child is impossible and counter productive for us.
For me, I show I love each child by giving them the attention they want from me. It's not hard. One comes in to show me his drawing. I take time to admire it, note the details he had added in and praise him for his work. I take photos of their other work. Or when one is practicing their instrument, I'll take the time to listen and give feedback, what's sounding nice, what needs more practice.
Importantly, love each child as unique individuals who have different talents and abilities, different weaknesses. Do not fall into the trap of measuring everyone by the same yardstick because not everyone can measure up the same way.
Oh, and I must say, Hugs and kisses go a LOOOONG way in affirming love. :) I grew up in a non-hugging family, but we're changing that! ;)
When the relationship is broken, loving kindness is the key to repairing that and win back the heart of the child. Remember again, though Israel was idolatrous and was hence punished severely by God (even that is an expression of His everlasting love), yet He drew them back to Himself with loving kindness.
Heart to Heart talks
Proverbs 23:19 Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.
I have been reading about heart to heart talks that (homeschooling moms) spend with their older children. I've been experiencing the increased need for this myself when relating with my oldest child (10 yrs). At that age, it's no more just spank, teach and make up (reaffirm love for the child). It takes a longer route of talking, helping them analyze the situation, access their attitudes and motivations, reminding what God thinks of this issue, how should we then behave in a God pleasing manner the next time this situation happens, etc etc. They need guidance, and reminders. Lots of it. I am humbled by fact that discipling a person takes lots of TIME. It's not a one-off effort. It's for the long haul.
Again, if the parent has the heart of the child, counsel will yield wisdom in the child's life.
Proverbs 23:24-25 The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.
Psalms 126:6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Have you ever cried over the salvation of your children? Have you ever cried over your failures as a parent? Have you ever cried to God to beg Him for mercy for your children to stand strong in this world of sin and not to fall headlong into many hurts and sorrows?
Have you ever cried for God to teach, guide and give wisdom to parent the child that He has given to you? That this child get saved, grow strong in the faith and will live out his life purposefully for God's use, and not wasted in foolery?
If you have, and your hand is on the plough, not looking back, thank God for His assurance of fruits for our labours.
Family Bible Notes says of that last verse Psalms 126:6 -
"The most successful undertakings have often been commenced in the midst of great difficulties and with much weeping. The spiritual seed that is abundantly watered with godly tears, will bring forth a rich harvest of golden sheaves."
Parenting: It's Heart Work but somebody's gotta do it. ;)
Thanks for reading. God bless you, dear reader.
For more thoughts, an excellent read is Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart. You can click on the link on the right hand column there---->