“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” — Elizabeth Stone
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous. Ps 19:7-9 - NIV
This week’s principle: There is not one principle but several.
Some basic biblical principles:
We are to teach & train our children:
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut 6:7 - NIV
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Prov 22:6 - NIV
Provide for them:
Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 2 Cor 12:14 - NIV
Provide a good example (and avoid a bad one):
I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 2 Tim 1:5 - NIV
Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them.” Jer 9:14 - NIV
He too walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong. 2 Chron 22:3 - NIV
Teach them control and respect:
He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 1 Tim 3:4 - NIV
Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Prov 20:11 - NIV
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”-which is the first commandment with a promise- “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Eph 6:1-3 - NIV
For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. 1 Sam 3:13 - NIV
To love them:
Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children Titus 2:4 - NIV
How to Communicate love (and what are “love-languages”):
Just as cultures communicate through different languages and behaviors, we all have different ways of best communicating and receiving love. As husbands & wives benefit from knowing each other’s “language” preferences, we should also seek to know our children’s. 5 types by Gary Chapman:
There are many forums out there to help you find out your love language. (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/; http://www.afo.net/hftw-lovetest.asp; http://edified.org/myspace/lovelanguage; http://www.selectsmart.com/FREE/select.php?client=5lovelanguages ) It is useful to know both your own and your spouse’s, then also your children’s language. We often try to show love for others using our love language, but this may not translate well to the other person if their language is something completely different. Knowing their language allows us to love them more like they would choose to be loved. That said, we should love in every capacity, not limited to one or two. And we are commanded to love, even when our “love language” is not being spoken.
Small children all like gifts, hugs, and time, but around age 7 (Ezzo), a particular language should be evident as their favorite. These appear to be God-given personality traits and not learned priorities. To best love someone, we need to know them—how they appreciate being loved, what ministers to them (not us), why our efforts sometimes appear to be unappreciated and we misunderstand the response. It is often because we do not “push the right buttons.”
Study 1 Cor 13 in order to better understand what love is and is not. Love often, especially as a parent, entails actions that may be painful to our children but are, truly, loving actions. Just as God disciplines us out of love, we will sometimes cause pain for the sake of love when we discipline.
It is essential that they fear parental wrath just as we fear God’s.
Fear is a very rational, natural, and, very frequently, helpful response to actions by those with greater power, those in authority. Your children should literally fear your wrath—not your hand, not your hug, not your person, but your wrath. Consider the following examples:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” ESV Lk 5:7-8
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. ESV (Also, the fear of the Gerasenes when the evil spirit left the man, etc.) Lk 8:46
Jesus showed love for the Pharisees when he called them to task. He would have lacked love if he did not confront their sin and pride. He gave them what they needed to hear, even if it was unpleasant. It should be very clear to our children who is in authority. They should not fear our hand, our hugs, our love, etc., but know that we have the authority and mandate to show wrath when biblically indicated.
TRUST: Trust in the family relationship is constant and essential. Trust for most children towards parents is easy—they trust the persons who feed them, hug them, dress them, give them shelter. As they grow older, the trust begins to change as life is more complicated—they trust those who are consistent, who do not lie or mislead, those by whom they feel fully loved. We must make sure that our children have no reason to doubt us—the world will have enough disappointment as it is.
Mandates for parents to maintain trust:
Trust cannot be separated from God Himself & God’s word. As they grow older, they will need more objective truth to be evident in order to trust in your wisdom and decisions.
Your word is truth. Jn 17:17b - NIV
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:21 - NIV
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6 - NIV
Trust in parents is based on your trustworthiness; if you do not love your spouse, they will not see you as trustworthy. This is a prerequisite to gaining/maintaining trust. How can they trust you if you don’t love the one you promised to love for all your life? Loving your spouse is an incredibly important demonstration of your trustworthiness. If you do not have a spouse, they must see you being trustworthy with other people with whom you are in close relationship.
Make the family a haven of trust. Family is where we are mutually accepted and loved for who we are. It entails loyalty and trust found nowhere else. We must cultivate a Christ-centered family identity where we can freely be who we are, knowing that all are devoted to each other. Work to build up a family identity. If you are parenting alone, make your extended family that haven of trust if possible.
Seek to find out who your child is deep down inside so that you will not hurt their heart and break trust. There are times when our children reveal their deepest thoughts and fears—be ready for those times, ready to talk and explore their inner world that they normally hide. This is when you can really know your child.
Learn to watch your tongue and your tone. Just as James says frequently, our tongue is a weapon which is easily and often carelessly wielded. When a child approaches in wonder and cheer, be careful to never be harsh or angry, even when it is a difficult situation. Instead, gently help them to understand what they have discovered may be harmful to them or something/someone else. Try not to crush a tender spirit.
…but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8 - NLT
Let your children fail and not feel rejected. We all fail—and frequently—in life, but we must let our children know that they are still in our good graces and loved when they have given good effort. We live in a competitive culture, and winning is important, but doing their best is all we can ask and expect. We should not let them be lazy or irresponsible, but there are undoubtedly times of failure, and they must know they are loved even more in those times. It is crippling to believe that we cannot fail.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. Matt 12:20 - NIV
Encourage your child! This is what tells them they are loved and can be secure in their world. This is not just in words but relationship. Try to think of things that will encourage and build them up like you (hopefully) do to your spouse. Spend special times, write notes or letters of encouragement, take special trips, take a few minutes of your busy day to play, always use words of encouragement.
Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thess 5:11 - NIV
Give lots of physical contact. You may think that this will be hard to do (especially you men), but once you have those little bundles, you will naturally be drawn to them. Do not let this wane as they grow older—boys needs physical contact to know they are loved, and girls especially need their daddy’s hugs to satisfy the physical need for touch from men—better you than those boys! If you do not fill the need, someone else will.
Trust and Responsibility: The more your child earns your trust, the more responsibility they may be given.
“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.” — Frank Crane
“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.” — George MacDonald
Conscience is a God-given moral faculty of man. It is referred to as the “heart” (860 times) in the Old Testament and conscience in the New (19 times). 1 Tim 4:2 states that our consciences can be seared and made defective, callused, unresponsive. The conscience appears to have 2 basic parts, one which is primary (instinctive) and common to all man, and the other which is based on what is learned about God (moral).
The primary conscience is noted in Romans chapters one & two.
But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. Rom 1:18-20 - NLT
Even when Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God’s law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. Rom 2:14-15 - NLT
The moral conscience is learned or trainable and develops over time. It is learned by studying the Word of God. Teach first the behavior, then the moral behind it.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Ps 119:11 - NIV
Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. Job 22:22- NIV
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty. Jer 15:16 - NIV
We learn morals as children from what we see our parents do, from what they say, and from the rest of the world around us. It is quite common and easy to wrongly train a child. It is imperative to be who we know God wants us to be and to teach our children from scripture what is right and moral. Ezzo divides the discussion of moral conscience into 4 parts: the moral warehouse, the 4 activities of the conscience, the moral search, and positive and prohibitive training.
Training the conscience: prohibitive and positive. Prohibitive training focuses on the “do not’s” and is used first. Positive must follow this, giving reasons why we have the morals and beliefs that we do. Without positive training, life becomes a series of “don’ts”, and children grow up with rules they don’t understand. Ezzo suggests beginning teaching children at age 3-4 using positive techniques; we think it never hurts to begin essentially as soon as they understand speech. (It may only waste some breath!) Prohibitive only leads to manipulation of the child, making him fear losing the love of the parent, feeling guilt, fearing punishment, and rejection. Teaching them the why helps them to know God and understand the real reason why we behave the way we do.
“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.” — George Washington
“Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it.” — A. Einstein
“Clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.” — Chinese Proverb
Find out your, your spouse’s, and your children’s love language this week, and try loving them in that fashion. Have fun with it! Tell us your results. Write the languages down where you can save them and refer to them later.
“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back.” — William D. Tammeus