Training a child

The Question:

How to train up a child?

KG from St. Kitts


The Answer
Part 1: Reaping the promise

Reaping the promise (Part 1)

What a simple little question. Too bad there is not a simple little answer to match -- like sharing a recipe with a friend. The Bible says: "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) Surely the promise of such a great result for doing it right will prompt nearly every parent to put forth their best effort. But how - exactly?

I'm not a child expert and there are umpteen child rearing volumes at all the local book stores. Some are good and some are bad and methods for raising children go in and out of fashion. We can't rely on the latest fads to guarantee success.

How about if I share with you a few things that guided my decisions when I was raising my two daughters? I can simply say that if I were doing it all over again, I would still follow these same principles.

  • Have the end in mind in the beginning. I always knew how I wanted my children to turn out and I verbalized it. I wanted my daughters to be healthy, mature, productive members of society who served the Lord. I was always clear to myself that I was raising them to release them to fulfill their own divine destiny. Somehow, when your goal is clear, individual decisions you make seem to line up more easily.
  • Practice what you preach. There is no more important influence that you have over your children than how you live your own life. If you have a secret life that you think you can live outside your child's view, you are wrong. I've heard parents say: "Do as I say; not as I do." That's wrong and children will nearly always do as you do in the end.
  • Teach submission to authority. I took this command for my children very seriously: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." (Ephesians 6:1) I told them that learning how to properly submit to rightful authority when they were young was the best practice for learning how to submit to God.
  • Pray. You cannot pray for your children, with your children or over your children too much. Often I stood over my girls beds while they slept and prayed for their safety, their future, their concerns - everything. Besides that, teach them how to pray for themselves from the time they are little.

No matter how much effort and sacrifice we put into raising our children it is all worth it when they become all we hoped for as adults. And here's the frosting on the cake: once you are finished you get to trade in your parent hat for one that is so much better and more fun: you get to be their friend.

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