Every parent wants to be a better parent. Hundreds of books have been written on the subject. One authored a book entitled “Seven Infallible Ways to Raise Children”. He married and ended up with seven kids and no ways. Maybe we should return to the basic principles and practice of “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Parents: TEACH CHILDREN! This is the first basic principle. It doesn’t take a village, or a school, or a community, or even the police – it takes PARENTS. From Christianity to customs, it’s a matter of teaching. From manners to misbehavior, it’s a matter of teaching. From courtesy to cursing, or religion to rebellion, or obedience to obesity, or selfishness to sainthood, it’s strictly a matter of teaching. No one takes the place of parents.
We teach by word and we teach by example. Don’t ask me which one is the most important – they both are. Even Jesus said, “Go . . . teach . . . all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). The German shepherd method is simple. Teach the dog to sit, stand, stay, come, heel, fetch and do. Here are seven commands that the master may require his animal to master. If we can teach dogs to obey these instructions, why can we not teach our children to do the same? After all, they develop a mind far superior to that of an animal!
Teach by example. While words, spoken or written, are primary and fundamental, there must be an active demonstration of those concepts and ideas. Practicing what we preach has always been a major problem. Telling alone is good, but insufficient. Something vital is truly lost when the demonstration fails. Telling is good – showing is good – together they are the dynamic duo of powerful teaching.
Paul said, “Let this mind be in you which also was in Jesus Christ” (Phil. 2:5). When you admonish your children, “mind me”, you are saying “have my mind”. This is done by teaching truth in words and living those truth before your children. There is no choice between word and deed – they MUST go together.
TIME PLUS TEACHING EQUALS MIND. The child is born with a brain but not with a mind. Time without teaching makes only a physical body. If the child is to “mind the parents”, they must know the mind of the parents. Mind is developed by teaching.
TIME PLUS MIND EQUALS CONVICTIONS: The word conviction comes from the root word, “To bind”. Time and teaching inwardly binds a child to principles that later become his/her conscience and convictions. Solomon said, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother; for they shall be an ornament of grace about your head and chains about your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9). What children first conceive (no questions asked) they must later test and prove for themselves. No teaching – no mind! No mind, no convictions (inner binding).
CONVICTIONS PLUS TIME EQUALS CHARACTER! Notice that each of these building blocks takes a natural progression of TIME. A young child may have mind, but little convictions. A teenager may have convictions, but only the seeds of character. Is it morally wrong to cheat or lie or steal? Simple moral teachings must first be found in the home if the nation is to survive.
Years ago, on a 20/20 T.V. show, a teenager faced the parents of their teenage girl who had been murdered. He, along with two other teenagers, were involved in the murder. All three were judged guilty and given a life sentence without parole. Let me repeat what he said as he faced the parents. “I saw your daughter come through the inner doorway of that old abandoned house. She was drunk and naked. I thought, you know, I need to get her dressed and take her home . . . but I didn’t!” He went on to ask their forgiveness, which, in tears, was granted by the parents. His convictions had said, “Dress her and take her home”, but that voice was too weak to put into action what he needed to do. “I’m so sorry”, he whispered, again and again, as they led him in shackles out of the conference room. Evil companions corrupt good morals every time.
Is the teaching weak? So the mind will be. Is the mind weak? So will the convictions ( inner binding) be. Without convictions character development is impossible! It is slow to form and if ever.
Begin today to apply these simple yet profound principles. The secret to success is being consistent in your efforts. Never give up. One day your children will rise up and call you “blessed”.