True Value

My #1 daughter-in-law, Melissa, is my guest writer today.  She recently shared the following with me in a casual conversation.  Her story is powerful.  I think others  will benefit from her insight and transparency.

I struggle with insecurities.  I don’t like it when people point out my weaknesses.  In fact I ponder their critique longer than I would like to admit.  I have struggled with insecurities as long as I can remember, wanting people to like me, approve of me.  Unfortunately, when I became a mom these insecurities didn’t vanish, instead my kids have forced me to face them.  Where does my worth come from?  Where do my children get their worth?  I fell into the trap of competing. Oh, I didn’t say it like that; I just needed one key area that I was really good at…that I shined brighter in than others.  That was my worth!  I got accolades in that area, but deep down it was never enough.IMG_0633

I want my kids to have a good self- esteem.  I want them to know they can do whatever God calls them to.  So the first time one of my kids came to me and said something like, “Susie said I am ugly.”  I thought, “Oh no! She is going to think that she is ugly and get insecure.”  I didn’t know how to handle it so I leaned on my own coping strategies.

Strategy #1: Think of all your strengths.  Compare yourself to her and see how you’re still better.  Look at all the areas you are great at.

Strategy #2: (This one can get pretty ugly, but you got to do what you got to do to keep yourself on top!) Point out their weaknesses and flaws.  “Susie said you’re ugly???  Have you heard her lisp?  Wait, did she say ugly or ugWEE?” (No, I am not proud of it.)

This is what I noticed, my kids were becoming like me, going back and forth between pride and low self-esteem depending on the day.  One night my son called me into his room, in tears, to tell me how another child had hurt him deeply.  They had teased him because he didn’t recognize a word, implying he was a bad reader.  I hurt with him and honestly I was debating on which strategy to use when the Holy Spirit prompted me with a better way. I asked him, “Where does your worth come from?”  He said, “What?”  I asked again, “Where does your worth come from?”  “What makes you valuable?”  “Mom, I don’t know.”  “Son, it’s not in whether you are a good reader.  Your worth is based on being God’s child.  Your worth is not whether or not you are good at basketball.  Your worth is not whether or not you are handsome. You aren’t valuable because others say so, it’s because God says so.  He loves you and says you are enough.”  The distress turned into relief.  A tear slid down his cheek and he said, “Thank you mommy.”

Our children need to know where their value comes from.  They don’t have to earn it.  They are already valuable because they are God’s child.  People shouldn’t be able to determine our value because God has already decided we are worth dying for – John 3:16.13015260_10209088514751835_5337198856708526595_n

Happy Easter

Is Easter a favorite holiday for you?  Why?  I confess I love the jelly beans and malted eggs, but not the Peeps.  I despise plastic “grass”, which like Christmas tree needles can be found in odd places months after the holiday.  Yet, I love Easter for its deep spiritual meaning and its fun associated activities.

As a child, Easter was about the candy and the new outfit.  The outfit included ruffled socks, white patent leather buckle shoes, ruffled under pants, a full slip, a dress, a hat, a purse and gloves.  We usually shopped at Sears for the outfit. Yes, we died eggs, had an egg hunt outside (weather permitting), received a multi-colored fake-straw basket full of candy and we went to church.  I do not recall any emphasis on the Easter bunny.  We knew all our gifts were from our parents.

Mint

My mom, pregnant with my brother, my 5 year old sister, and me at almost 3.  The coursages were from my daddy.

As an adult, I still like the candy.  But now the special ham dinner with the family is more important to me.  Even though I don’t like coconut, a Lamb cake is the perfect dessert because it represents Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God sacrificed to take away our sins. I savor Easter worship, and if  I can also include a Good Friday or Maundy Thursday worship, those are a welcome bonus.  I appreciate my Catholic friends’ attitude about, and reverence towards Holy Week, which goes from Palm Sunday to Easter.

basket

with a mouthful of candy

As a parent I used green cloth to line multi-colored plastic baskets that I filled with candy, added a few half-dollars, and sometimes a Christian music CD or DVD. I don’t recall when or why I started giving half-dollars, but they were happily accepted.  The baskets were presented on Good Friday or Saturday so that candy was not the highlight of Easter Sunday.  I generally bought my children a new outfit but not of the same caliber or level of fancifulness as what I wore as a child.

eye patch

doesn’t every boy wish for a pirate patch in his basket?

 

I think I enjoyed the egg hunts as much as my children.  I still enjoy hosting them for my grandchildren.  At an outdoor hunt there is always the risk that some egg will not be found till August.  Hopefully that egg is not the one with the money in it. At my hunts, I do not let all the children begin hunting at the same time but let the youngest start first and give him or her a few minutes of hunting before allowing the next oldest to begin.  Staggering their starts even just a few minutes apart prevents the oldest child from quickly finding all the easily hidden eggs which the youngest child needs.

 

 

 

Here are a few more family ideas for possible Easter traditions:

  1. Watch an inspirational movie, such as Risen (for children over 6)
  2. Dye boiled eggs
  3. Take a basket to an elderly neighbor or relative
  4. Make Easter decorations
  5. Choose a Pinterest project to do as a family
  6. Go to a live Passion of Christ play
  7. Visit another church for their Good Friday worship
  8. Make a lamb cake (with or without the coconut)
  9. Make Easter egg nests
  10. Attend a sunrise worship service

 

Easter Egg Nests

(recipe given to me by my mother-in-law more than 30 years ago)

2 12 oz. bags of milk chocolate chips (or use 1 bag semi-sweet & 1 bag butterscotch)

1 large bags of chow Mein noodles

2 bags of jelly bird (small) jelly beans

Melt the chips in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour in the dry noodles.  Mix well enough to cover the noodles.

Drop by the heaping tablespoon onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.   Add 3-5 eggs (jelly beans) onto each nest.    Put in refrigerator to harden.

Why pray?

Do you know what or how to pray for your children? Do you know why you should pray for your children?  Does it make a difference? us 6

When we pray for our children we are aligning our hearts with God’s heart. God loves all people but he has a special love for children.  Jesus demonstrated this when he scolded his own disciples for trying to prevent the children from approaching and “bothering” him.  He also taught that there would be serious punishment done to any who would cause harm to children.

God always hears us when we pray. He intervenes and acts on our behalf and for our greatest good, even if that is not how we interpret any given situation. When we pray for our children God does an amazing thing in our own hearts.  He softens us and adjusts our attitudes towards the one for which we are praying.  He will help us know how to meet the individual needs of each of our children. DDT

When my # 3 son was about three or four years old and his little sister was one or two he was struggling with not being the baby.  He would have serious meltdowns multiple times a day.  I could not change the situation and was at a loss as to how to deal with him.  I prayed and asked God why He gave me such a sensitive child when I was not a sensitive person?  My very next thought, which I believe was God, speaking to me was, “that is why you need a sensitive child.”  I replied, “How do I manage him?” The answer was, “hold him.”   Every day thereafter I made certain that I took an hour to hold him in my lap. We would talk and read books.  It worked.   He enjoyed sitting in my lap. It made a huge emotional difference for him.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52. I think this verse about Jesus as a child gives us some great ideas and guidance for how to pray for our children.

As a child Jesus grew. Children are growing so pray for their growth.  Pray that they will be healthy and strong.  Pray they will not suffer sickness and affliction.  Pray for physical protection from accidents and from people who would do them harm.   Pray they would be emotionally well.  Pray for them intellectually, that they would learn and do well in their schooling. Pray they would be able to understand and apply new concepts, that they would become logical and reasonable.

Their spiritual needs (in favor with God) should be prayed for.  We want them to understand how much God loves them and learn to love Him.  Help them love God’s Word and apply it to their lives.  Pray they would learn to discern between evil and good and between good and best and that they will desire to choose the good and the best in life.  Pray they will be truthful and their faith would increase.

tsRelational needs are huge.  Pray they will get along with parents, siblings, and peers and learn to be respectful.  Pray they will choose their friends wisely and wisely choose their activities with their friends.

Pray for yourself to be a wise parent, to see beyond the obvious to truth.  You won’t be a perfect parent. No one is a perfect parent.   As your children grow and mature, your prayers for their needs will change, but you and they will always benefit from those prayers.

celebrating 100

Has your child ever celebrated a 100th day of school?  Perhaps it was in a kindergarten class.  I don’t know why but in thirty years of homeschooling we never had a 100th day of school celebration.  The point of this celebration is to help students gain a grasp of just how of much something is one hundred.

I have been blogging for seven months.  It has been an adventure.  I have not written 100 posts yet.  My most popular post was   https://dianesergeant.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/open-door/   Two days after it was posted it had 103 views.  It was my first post to go over the 100 views in a day.   It was worthy of a celebration.   2006_0507(012)

What things in your child’s life do you celebrate? Achievements, awards, accomplishments, and successes are all worthy of celebrating.  I propose creativity, effort, kindness, honesty, generosity and a host of other positive character traits should be celebrated.

A lesson that I did use a few times on the first day of a new school year was about initiative. I would begin with explaining that the first letter of a name is called the initial. Each student would write their initials.  Then we would discuss having and taking initiative.  Initiative can be seeing a need and addressing that need before being told to do so.  It is being the first to take action.  I would often watch for and support initiative in my children.  I intentionally developed initiative in them by talking about it, encouraging it and complimenting them regarding it.  This kind of positive reinforcement can be used to promote any character trait.  Celebrate affirmative character attributes.

How about giving thanks to our children for cooperation or humility, for being quick to forgive or volunteering to do something difficult?  Our daughter was always generous with her three older brothers even though they did not always return the favor.  She would regularly and willingly share her bag of candy or other treats. Sometimes they took advantage of her generosity, but that did not inhibit her. Today she is a generous adult.  Promote and applaud thoughtfulness, courtesy and appreciation.  Think about the character traits that you admire in yourself, your spouse, and others.  Begin to intentionally nurture those traits in your children.

2007_0104 Many adults struggle with being responsible, respectful, polite, flexible, patient, self-controlled, and dependable.   You may have to find separate methods for each individual child in order for them to each fully comprehend and desire to apply to their lives. Teach by your example.  Teach by using words of explanation or characters in a movie or story.  Tell them about your failures and how you should have handled something differently.  Teach with questions, such as “what are the possible responses or attitudes in a particular situation?”  You may be amazed at their perception and answers.

Whatever relationships, careers or paths your children choose to pursue as adults they will be better equipped to do so with strong positive character traits to aid and support them.

Truth or Consequences

D. C. & D.Were you shocked the first time your child lied to you?   It seemed to happen so naturally.  Their first words are so cute and anticipated.  Soon they were talking in complete sentences and suddenly they were also able to lie with their words. When they are little and tell a lie it is so obvious it is almost humorous, but do not allow them to see you laugh. When they tell their first lie is the time to begin discussing truthfulness.

If you value truth and honesty then you should consistently correct and object to all lies.  Most people tell lies as self-preservation.  It is a cover up and trouble avoidance technique.  However, eventually truth is known and lies are exposed.  Help your children learn this lesson while they are young.   If a parent is seeking information such as who broke the lamp, maintain self-control because any demonstration of anger will cause the offender to avoid confession.

We often told our children they would be in less trouble if they admitted quickly to an accident or even wrong doing, than if they hid it or lied.  The later would always result in a stronger action or punishment.  Be careful to be truthful yourself, if you establish this precedent.

As a child, I was often unable to consider possible outcomes of an action in any way except to do the action and see what happened.  I often did things without any thought of consequences what so ever.  One day when I was about twelve (yes, at twelve years old, I should have known better) I stuck a broken pocket clip from a pen into a car trunk keyhole.  I lost it in there and did not know how to get it out. IMG_1486 I figured I was in big trouble and tried to forget about it.  When I told my, also twelve year old cousin, Lin, what I did she quoted scripture to me.  She said, “John 8:32 says, ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’”   This scripture is symbolically referring to Jesus as the Truth.  I took it literally and soon found my dad to confess the truth to him so I could be free of the guilt of my deed.   His response was that he had wondered how that little piece got in the keyhole and he had easily removed it with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.  My worry and guilt was my only punishment. No physical damage was done to the car.
Trust is built on truth.  As your children age, they will be in more and more settings where you must trust them.  Help them to embrace truthfulness.  Recognize and reward truthfulness in them.  Whenever you are interrogating them (I mean questioning them) about a situation choose your words carefully so that you are not condemning.  Restrain your emotions so they do not feel accused and become defensive.

One day at my sister-in-law’s house someone put a can of root beer in the freezer and forgot it.  One by one she calmly questioned her 3 and our 4 children.  No one admitted to have any claim or knowledge of the soda. She cleaned up the huge mess inside the freezer from the exploded can. Liquid when frozen expands and cannot be contained in the same amount of space as cold or room temperature fluids.  A day or two later our father-in-law suddenly remembered his root beer and went to the freezer to retrieve it.  Even adults make mistakes.

Disobedience and lying were the two offenses which we were the strictest about with our children.  It was exhausting, but our efforts resulted in our children being honest people.  It is a character trait that honors God, and is highly valued by spouses, friends, and employers.

Media Maize

Children need to be taught how to think critically and use discernment.  Every day we are bombarded with images and information via computer and internet devices.  The things we see and hear do impact and influence our thinking and behavior. When your children are young you decide which movies and other media they may view but as they age they can be involved in the choices and eventually discern and monitor themselves. Always keep in mind the goal of rearing independent adults.  Practice assessing movies with your children. We may think entertainment is just entertaining, but it all promotes a message. Using discernment means to see beyond the obvious to what lies underneath; to look beyond the glitz and glamour to the substance.  Teach them to evaluate and think about the stories, the plot and themes.hollywood-sign-closeup

When viewing films at home it may be valuable to pause to discuss an issue or topic.  Even children’s movies often have themes that need to be discussed.  I often see films that have subtle anti-biblical themes or just political or social messages with which I do not agree.  Teach your children to view media through a Christian lens. Teach them to think. Are we rooting for the primary character as he or she engages in illegal or immoral behavior?  I am not suggesting we view questionable media just for the opportunity to discuss the negative themes.  However when they arise, do not ignore them.  Discuss them. God redeems the bad by bringing good from it.  We can in minor ways follow his example. Positive themes also abound and we can watch for them as well.  No entertainment is truly mindless.  There is always a theme and a message being given or promoted.  Explore it. Be critical and consider carefully the enterainment you watch and allow your children to digest.

When making a viewing decision about a movie, it is important to learn whose opinion and recommendation one can trust and whose cannot be trusted. This may be a painful or uncomfortable lesson. I have discovered that even friends from church may not judge movies in a similar manor as I do.  Accepting a children’s movie recommendation from non-parents may not be as valuable as from other parents.  Non-parent adults may not notice vocabulary or situations in a film that a parent may.  There are a few websites that I believe give valuable and reliable reviews.  Two of these are www.pluggedinonline.com and the subscription site www.screenit.com.

The world of media is rapidly changing and so we need to frequently reevaluate our family usage policies.  Parental controls can and should be used on phones, computers, gaming devices and other sources.  The more children are unsupervised the more controls need to be in place.  I believe that computers accessible to children should be kept in public rooms such as a family room or dining room and never in bedrooms. Even phones should not be stored overnight in children’s rooms. This will avoid numerous problems.

playing knights & castles

Many parents provide their young children with cell phones.  There are many circumstances in which cell phones provide convenience for parents to communicate with their children.  That convenience also presents challenges and potential dangers and the decision to give a phone to a child should be carefully evaluated.  Pay phones are nearly non-existent, yet almost every adult carries a cell phone. For example, if a child goes to a team practice, the coach will have a phone.  Is your child truly mature enough to keep track of their phone and not lose it?  Is your child mature enough to be responsible with photographing themselves or others respectfully?  Many adults are not.  Will you limit phone usage hours?  Personally I do not think children should have unlimited access to the internet.  There are many predators waiting to take advantage of innocent children via the internet.  Destructive pornography is easily accessed even accidentally.

Social media is another area where parents need to be aware of and even monitor their child’s usage.  Parents need to know all passwords, frequently view accounts and occasionally review privacy settings.  Discuss privacy and what kind of personal information should and should not be shared. Do not allow your children to post provocative pictures. The things you post paint a picture of who you are.  Employers do examine applicants’ social media activity, even old entries.  Be truthful and cautious.  Be very guarded about venting volatile emotions.  Venting should be done in a safe environment and social media is not safe. Emotions change and words cannot be erased. Once something has been said it cannot be unsaid.  One can delete a post, apologize, ask for forgiveness and even do whatever is necessary to reconcile, but there will always be a residue effect. It is like emptying a tube of tooth paste onto a paper plate and then trying to put it all back into the tube.  It is a nearly impossible task and even if done successfully some of it would be absorbed into the paper.  We must practice restraint and not speak or print everything we think or feel.

Stupid rules

Help your children to understand that the Bible is a love letter from God.  Throughout the Old and New Testaments we see how He patiently loves and even directs circumstances to achieve good for his people. Just as a parent would protect and warn a child, God’s Word gives us warnings and protection.  My own heart is rebellious by nature.  I do not willingly obey rules which do not make sense to me.  My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Joy Biehl, repeatedly told us students that when we call something stupid, it is usually because we don’t understand it.  She was correct.

This applies to God’s commands and laws as well as man’s. When I find myself labeling something stupid, it is usually because I do not understand the reasoning behind it. Certain speed limits seem stupid to me when I want to drive faster than the posted limit. A stop sign may seem stupid when there is no traffic, but at other hours of the day it may be crucial to safety. It is possible that man’s laws are arbitrary or reactionary, but God’s laws and principles are perfect. They are for the benefit and protection of everyone.  Just as I sometimes consider traffic laws as impeding my driving progress, God’s laws are sometimes seen as impeding our pursuit of happiness or satisfying our appetites.

One day I watched two squirrels in my backyard gnawing on a wooden bench.  I thought to myself, those squirrels are looney.  The bench was under a walnut tree filled with nuts so ripe they were falling off the trees.  They were filling up on “junk” food and ignoring the available nutritious food all around them.  We too choose counterfeits.  An example of this would be when we choose to enjoy sex outside of marriage contrary to God’s laws, instead of His best way within marriage. When we circumvent God’s way for man’s ways we are not satisfied, but left empty.

walk on waterAnother very important biblical principle to teach is that of reaping what we sow.  Galatians 6:7 warns us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”  It is vital for us to understand, believe and teach this principle.  Most children must experience this to internalize it.  Parents must allow children to experience consequences.  Shielding children from consequences does not protect them but it cripples them.  Consequences are valuable teaching experiences.   If a child is selfish, grouchy, demanding or bossy they will lose friends and have troubles at home.   Not allowing consequences to occur results in spoiled children.  Just as spoiled fruit is stinky, ugly and unappetizing, spoiled children are unpleasant, self-absorbed, and discontent.

As a homeschooling family every school day began with reading from a Bible story book. We had a 10 volume set of these which we read through entirely numerous times with our children. Children need to hear the stories and learn their principles.  The story book format presented the stories in an interesting way and in a chronological order using vocabulary designed for juvenile understanding.  From Ken Ham of the Creation Institute we learned the importance of clearly stating over and over that the stories in the Bible are not myth or fictional.  The Bible is true.  Bible stories are a record of true events and real people. Story does not equal myth.bald knob cross

Even after our children were strong readers and read the Bible for themselves we continued starting our days with reading from the Bible story book.  Parents must also model the spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading. When children observe their parents guarding their personal Bible reading time, they will see that we value it ourselves.

Bible memorization is extremely valuable and very easy for most children.  Our second son, David, made a new friend on the next block who invited him to go along with him to AWANA club at his church.  Our son loved it and soon all four of our children were attending with the four children of the neighboring family.  We are very thankful for the years these faithful neighbors took our children to AWANA at their church.  They had fun with the Olympic and pine wood derby competitions , the wacky dress-up events and many new friends while the Word of God was penetrating their hearts.ss awana

Later three of our children switched their mid-week church activity to the next door church’s children’s programs.  Again our number two son became very involved which eventually led to his involvement with their youth ministry.  Even though we had a youth ministry at our own church which I led, this secondary involvement was very beneficial for him and later also for our daughter.  At this youth group David was more of an individual and not just another Sergeant.  They were allowed to participate as much as they desired, as long as it did not conflict with our church.  David had his first mission experience with this neighbor church.

With some effort parents can find many venues to aid with spiritual formation.**

Living generously

My husband and I have been heavily influenced in the area of finances from our families of origin and the teachings of Larry Burkett.  We were both taught to earn, save, and tithe.  I recall when my older sister got her first regular babysitting job.  She earned $12 per week and divided her money into four envelopes.  Written on the envelopes were Savings, Tithe, Spending, and Presents.  I was amazed at how quickly she saved enough money to purchase a small black and white television set for our bedroom.  On many occasions I was the happy benefactor of the Presents envelope.  When I began babysitting I followed her example.  My husband grew up on a farm in Nebraska and had the opportunity to manage his own business raising sheep, chickens and goats. Thus he also had opportunity to manage money and make money decisions. Larry Burkett was a strong proponent of training children financially beginning with preschoolers.  The following are some of his guidelines:

  1. Pay them only for jobs that are completed.
  2. Pay for quality work. Have a strict work performance code for teenagers.
  3. Pay fairly, within your budget, but don’t overpay because you can afford it.
  4. Reward extra effort.
  5. Teach your children the “sharing” principles from God’s Word.
  6. Teach your children to save.
  7. Teach principles of budgeting.
  8. Get and use a checking account.
  9. Get and responsibly use a debit/credit card.
  10. There are no allowances in the real world.

As soon as a child is able to earn money they can also learn to manage it. Begin with a very simple system of envelopes or containers labeled with words or pictures for “Tithe or Church or God”, “Spend”, and “Save”.  Because it is mathematically easy to cut an amount in half and then half again, we had our children use half their money for “spend”, and then halve the remaining half resulting in saving one quarter of their income and giving one quarter of their income.  This meant I had to have on hand many single dollar bills and quarters so that the money could easily be divided. $_12

We explained that biblically we are instructed to give a tithe or ten percent.  A biblical tithe was just the basis for giving.  It is the minimum.  Tithes and offerings were given. “Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work.”  Nehemiah 10:37

When people practice giving liberally in childhood, when they only have a little, a habit is developed which helps them be liberally giving people as adults with employment income.  Giving a tithe and offering is reflective of a heart that is obedient and recognizes God as the giver and provider of everything.  It also builds trust in Him to continue to do so.

In many homes financial details are kept very secretive. There is some wisdom in this however there is also value in not always keeping it all a secret.  Children and even teens cannot comprehend all the bills and expenses a family incurs.  Nor do they understand adult income. We also don’t want to needlessly burden them with money worries. But in financially tight times your children can rise to the challenge to live more frugally. They can learn much from hearing or overhearing some of the process and discussions about priorities in saving, spending and budgeting.   I think this is especially true whenever philanthropy is concerned.

Matthew 6: 2-4 says, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”   Because of this scripture we did not involve or even inform our children anytime we would give to a need or make donations.  We thought we were being scriptural in our secrecy.  However we realized by our secrecy we were missing important teaching and modeling opportunities.  If being generous was important to us, then we needed to model it.  It was not a matter of bragging but of training.

One way we have found to contribute to others’ needs is ordering online gift certificates from major grocery stores or department stores to be delivered anonymously.  We have also played ding dong ditch delivering bags of groceries at a doorstep.  Our youngest son has participated in this “game” being our runner as we wait nearby in our car.  This is a great way to involve children who can keep it a secret and still fulfill the principle of Matthew 6.

Intentionally spiritual

Some Christian parents do not intentionally address their child’s spiritual development.  Some feel inadequate in this area or think this is the church’s job. The church has an important role but the parents need to fulfill the primary role of spiritual developer. Ideally parents and churches will partner. Make certain you know your church’s theology and agree with it.  Discuss what is being taught at church. Many children’s ministries have take-home papers available which can be utilized at home. Sunday school and children’s church lessons can be springboards for further, deeper discussions.  As you study with and spiritually challenge your children your faith will also grow deeper. You may even be surprised at their faith and learn from them.  Start having spiritual conversations with your children when they are young and continue to do so as they become teens and young adults.  In time this will seem normal to them.  Help them and yourself become comfortable discussing spiritual issues.

Don’t be like some parents who claim Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” as their spiritual insurance plan.  John White exposes this as false comfort.  “If you examine its [Prov. 22:6] context you will discover that the verse is not a promise made by God to anybody.  It is a statement, a general statement about how family relationships normally work.  Good parents usually produce good children.” Parents must first have a personal relationship with Christ and model godly living.  Parents need to pray for and with their children.  Help your child become so comfortable with praying that it seems inseparable from who they are and is their first response to every situation.

sws baptism

sws baptism1

There are many ways to pray for your children.  Dr. Anthony Evans  suggests we model our daily prayers after Luke 2:52 which tell us that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man.  Praying for wisdom would include gaining knowledge, intelligence, learning, common sense, discerning right and wrong, understanding, and the fear of the Lord.  Praying for increase in stature involves physical growth, health, and development. In favor with God refers to a father and child relationship.  Pray that your child will know, love, serve, and walk with God.  Pray for them to be rooted in the Word and to love the church.   Finally to pray for favor with man refers to their social growth.   Pray for their choice of friends, relationships with siblings, respect for parents and authority, and even for their future mates.

Pray with your children.  Pray at mealtimes.  Pray at bedtimes.  Pray anytime needs arise.  Pray with rejoicing and thanksgiving for blessings. When our children were very young we prayed with each of them at their bedside at bedtime.  Later we gathered as a family at bedtime and all prayed together usually beginning with the youngest child and ending with the oldest parent. When friends and extended family stayed overnight with us they were invited to join us and also pray or just listen as they were comfortable.  Sometimes it was challenging to avoid rote prayers. Sometimes someone fell asleep before it was their turn.  We knew someone was not focused when they prayed out of turn or even prayed twice.

Go to church every week.  Keep it a priority.  As a youth pastor I was often asked to be a reference for teens seeking employment.  I willingly did this but always encouraged the teen to tell the employer they could not work on Sunday mornings.  Whether it is work or sports or other activities, do not allow these to have more importance in a child’s life or yours than regular worship and fellowship at your church. Attend church as a family.  Fitness and physical training are important. There is much to be gained from team participation which may even have lifelong benefits.  However spiritual development endures longer than the body and this life, it is preparation for eternity.