“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed…” (Psalm 127:3-5)
I have been thinking a lot lately about my children, how we raised them, and how thankful I am that they are all such fun people to be around. It must be because I miss them all after having them all home at Christmas.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert, and my children are not all full-grown yet. But, as my husband and I like to say about our five children, “there’s not a throwback in the bunch!” I thought I would share with you some principles we used when raising our children. So, here are some of my thoughts as a mother of five and grandmother of three, on how we raised our children – you will notice that the fruit of the Spirit is woven throughout, which is no surprise, because it takes the fruit of the Spirit in us parents to raise good kids, and our aim is for them to be led by the Spirit.
LOVE them – As a mother, our job is to LOVE our children (Titus 2:4), and loving our children encompasses a lot: Protecting, guiding, nurturing, nursing, saying “NO” when necessary, being there for them, and looking out for their best interests – in a self-sacrificing, unconditional manner, as our Heavenly Father loves us. My husband likes to give our children the “I’m the best friend you’ll ever have speech”, because, really, their friends will come and go, their friends will not put their needs ahead of their own, and their friends may not always be in their lives.
PRAY for them – Someone once challenged me, “If you don’t pray for your children, WHO do you think will?” That struck me to the core! I MUST pray for my kids. Daily. Fervently. (James 5:16). Pray for them to seek and obey God’s will. Pray that they will grow in His grace and knowledge. Pray for their protection from evil. Pray for their future spouses (whenever my children bring home a ‘special someone’, I always think “is this the one I’ve been praying for all these years?”). When we pray, God gives us that PEACE that passes all understanding as we place them in His capable hands, knowing that they belong to Him anyway (Philippians 4:7).
SPEAK to them about God and His Word – Family devotions are so important, especially when children are young. They need to hear their parents talking about God and His Word, and how it applies to every aspect of our lives, and it should be a natural part of our everyday conversations (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). We gave our children Bibles as soon a they were old enough to carry it to Church by themselves. I used to teach them to repeat after me what the Bible says (in a nutshell, at their level of understanding): “Jesus loves me, and obey your Parents!” They would repeat it back, it was funny, but true! They need to learn at an early age that they are sinners in need of a Savior, and that their FAITH needs to be in Him for their salvation.
DISCIPLINE them – Children need our help to stay on track, if you’ve spent any time around children you know that their natural bent is to be selfish and foolish. They need help! Don’t be afraid to say “No”, even when it’s hard to (Hebrews 12:11), because you know what’s best for them. They need to learn TEMPERANCE, or SELF-CONTROL. One definition of the word “discipline” is ‘training that makes people more willing to obey or more able to control themselves, often in the form of rules, and punishments if these are broken‘ And that’s exactly what we do!
Teach them to WORK HARD – A good work ethic is invaluable! And, there is nothing more satisfying than to sit back and look at a job-well-done! (2 Thesselonians 3:10) That is something you should want your children to experience. Resist the urge to do it all for them! Our job as parents is to ‘work our way out of our job’ – lead our children into adulthood so that they can live independently of their parents. It will take PATIENCE and LONG SUFFERING, but it will be worth it.
LAUGH with them – Don’t forget to have fun with your children. Laugh with them (Proverbs 15:13). Make home a haven where they know they can come and relax, enjoy some family private jokes, and be themselves. It should be a JOY for them to come home, they shouldn’t dread it!
Teach them to be KIND – My husband still teases me about the number of times I would proclaim to my kids, “Be ye KIND one to another!” My mother taught me to ‘kill them with kindness’ when someone was unkind to me, and it is Biblical truth (1 Thessalonians 5:15, Ephesians 4:32).
Teach them to be HONEST – We do this mostly by example. Don’t be a hypocrite! Now, I know we all act a little differently at home than we do at Church, but we have to practice what we preach, or it doesn’t mean anything! We always told our children the importance of telling the truth, and so we must be truthful too. Our “GOODNESS” cannot be skin deep, it must come from a heart that wants to please and serve our Savior (Matthew 12:35), and you know what? Our kids can see right through us!! So, don’t judge them harshly on something that you do (Matthew 7:5, Romans 2:1). Be honest for Goodness’ sake!
Teach them RESPECT for Authority – Children learn respect for authority from how their mother treats their father. The father is the head of the household, and if I am rebellious and disrespectful to him, they will be too! And they will be rebellious and disrespectful to other authority figures in their lives (Ephesians 5:15,33). It takes humility, or MEEKNESS. I have heard meekness described as “velvet over steel”, meekness is not weakness, it is having power but knowing when and how to use it in a kind and loving way that is helpful to everyone.
Our Pastor recently said at a baby dedication that children are like arrows – we place them in our “bow” of training them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, aim them at the “target” of living to please the Lord, and “shoot” them off into the world praying that they hit the mark. I pray that your arrows fly straight and to the “mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
I hope this was helpful, it’s pretty much common sense, but nowadays it seems like common sense isn’t so common! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
~Graced and Grateful Grammy
“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5)