This past Sunday at Wesley, we spend some time exploring what Proverbs has to share with our families. A few thoughts for children and parents:
Wisdom for Children
Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise child loves discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Maybe I’ve just never met any wise children because I don’t know of any who love discipline. The reality is the word “discipline” is always associated with punishment in our culture. But in the Bible, the word “discipline” means more. Discipline and disciple contain the same root. To discipline a child is to teach them and to mentor them. I’ve learned more from teaching and mentoring than from punishment.
One of my favorite stories to model this is the story of the farmer and his son. One summer, the farmer took his son out to teach him how to plant rows of beans in their family garden. It was a large garden and there were many, long rows. The farmer modeled the distance between planting the beans, how many beans to put in each hole and how to cover them up. After a row or two, the father gave the beans to his son and and left him to complete the field on his own – hoping to teach him the value of hard work and careful planting. As the day went on and the temperature went up, the rows seemed longer and longer. The son began putting fewer beans in each hole and the spacing grew wider. Finally as the son was about 2/3 finished, he walked off the side of the field and dumped the rest of the beans along the pine trees near the field. He was done.
A few weeks later, the father told his son, “Come with me.” As they walked out to the field, the boy saw the first row of beans coming up nice and even, but as they passed more rows, the beans became more sporadic and farther apart. Finally, the father and his son stood at the pine trees and there on the ground were bean sprouts coming up everywhere. The son knew he had been found out and was ready for his punishment. The father simply looked to his son and say, “Son, I am disappointed. But I hope this will teach you a valuable lesson about life.” The son asked, “What lesson, Pa?” The father replied, “The beans always come up, son…the beans always come up.”
Proverbs 6:23 – 20 says, “My child, keep your father’s commandment, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”
Let’s pray that our children will long to be mentored by Godly parents.
Wisdom for Parents
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” This is a conditional proverb. Parents should never abdicate their responsibility to raise up their children.
I heard some great advice given to a Wesley member the day her daughter was born. The advice came from the Rev. Dr. Wright Culpepper, a former pastor of Wesley. When she asked Wright how they did such a great job raising their children he simply said, “So many people spend so much time going to everything their child does when they are young. Then, when they reach middle school and high school, they stop participating thinking they don’t need it or they want to do more for themselves. We found that those are the years you need to be MORE involved in everything. When they grow up, they won’t remember that you went to their dance or ballgame when they were 7 years old. But they will remember that you went when they were 15, 16, and 17.” Wise advice to stay involved in our children’s lives.
Here are a few tips regarding raising children that I have found helpful:
- make sure what you ask of your child is reasonable and they are capable of accomplishing it
- always speak to your child as you would be spoken to – never talk down to them, demean them, or belittle them – your words are life and death to their spirits whether you realize it or not
- be firm and specific when you discuss things which your children
- allow for negotiation and flexibility which builds your child’s social skills
- let them experience the consequences of their behavior – if they never have to face the consequences of their behavior when they are young, they will never face them when they grow old
- consequences should come immediately, relate to the rule broken, and move on quickly to move on to positive feedback
- make sure your expectations for your children are appropriate to their age
Remember, the most important things you pass on to your children are a loving household and the gift of faith. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a home filled with love. As Proverbs 15:17 says, “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.”