The ABCs (Absolute Basic Criteria) for Raising Spiritually Sensitive Children – Part 2
The Bible provides sufficient principles for child rearing, but it does not give us a detailed blueprint for every action. Let’s keep in mind that God’s Word speaks clearly of the righteous goal for parenting: “Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
It is my desire to show you the practical side of biblical truth. There is no greater joy than to see your children grown, serving the Lord and raising your grandchildren with the same biblical goal of holiness. Here are the next 3 topics (D through F).
D is for Discipline
Vance Havner says, “The alternative to discipline is disaster.” It is a disaster for everyone—the parent, the child and anyone they encounter. An undisciplined toddler will instantly ruin any atmosphere. Unfortunately, throwing a fit and screaming to get their own way isn’t a phase that children will outgrow. Soon they will become undisciplined teens and then naturally grow into undisciplined adults throwing a fit.
Sadly, I have encountered many parents who are trying to discipline their children, yet they themselves are undisciplined adults.
I recently wrote a Father’s Day card to my dad, thanking him for demonstrating discipline. He taught me that disciplined behavior is a prerequisite for success.
My husband and I understand that we had better be self-disciplined if we expect to raise self-disciplined children. The GOAL is to teach your children to be self-disciplined, rather than just robots responding to your every command.
Hebrews 12:11 reminds us that this is not a painless process: “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
First, it requires my own self-discipline to actually go to the trouble of disciplining my kiddos. Through my example, through “the rod,” and through many other creative consequences of their direct disobedience, all of which must be painful to be effective.
Can you imagine attending a parent-teacher conference at your child’s school and hearing a good report of how peaceful and righteous your child is? How did that happen? It was the painful process of daily discipline.
We must embrace discipline and instruction for ourselves and our children. “The one who follows instruction is on the path to life, but the one who rejects correction goes astray” (Proverbs 10:17).
Often I will make the point to my kids that their rules are the same as mine. They have to call if they’ll be home late, and so do I. They have no privacy on the computer, and neither do I. We all do our chores before playtime. They aren’t allowed to scream when angry, and I’m not allowed to scream either. Basically, the rules are all the same.
Work is doing it, and discipline is doing it every day.
My Prayer: Lord, let me be a disciplined mother, and let me teach my children to lead disciplined lives. Let me be your faithful servant, Lord, and let me teach faithfulness by my conduct and by my communications. Let me raise my family in the knowledge of Your Word, and let me follow your commandments just as surely as I teach my children to obey you and to love you. Amen.
E is for Emotional Intimacy
Somewhere on the way to the 21st century, it seems as if the majority of middle-class parents decided that it would be a good thing to work themselves to death, and then, just for good measure, they decided to work their children to death too. Families became so outer-directed, so focused on producing, earning, spending, ministering, giving and then earning some more to keep up with the next round of spending, that there was hardly any time left for anything else. “Anything else” being: family, joy, laughter, feelings, play and dreaming, among others. The basic emotions that human beings experience are all good, healthy emotions. Even anger, sadness, hurt, guilt, fear, loneliness and grieving are all good emotions.
People are so focused on deadlines, goals, schedules, meetings, lessons, practices, phones, faxes and production that many are now stuck in a horrifying dissociation from their feelings. Dissociation is another way of saying disconnection, separation or being oblivious. Families desire an emotional intimacy but instead are left feeling busy, confused, numb and sadly unloved.
Driven parents produce children who are themselves driven to fill in the void left by being emotionally neglected.
Take time to evaluate the emotional health of your family. Be honest about how busy everyone is and take a step to cut back on activities and commitments. Be sure that there is time to actually sit down to dinner several nights a week where you can talk comfortably and warmly, knowing that someone doesn’t have to rush off to yet another meeting or practice. You may need to get a smaller house to afford working less.
Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to be on vacation to watch a movie together or play a game as a family? Imagine that Sunday is actually a day of rest. There is time to pray together, cry together and laugh together on a daily basis. Soon you’ll look around and notice that everyone is happier, healthier and interacting with intimate feelings that only an emotionally bonded family has.
F is for Fruit
I once heard a wise man sum up his parenting philosophy in this one statement, “Give your kids everything they need and half of what they want.” It is so easy to get caught up in keeping our kids happy and giving them everything that they want, when actually that is encouraging their sinful nature.
Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Verses 20 and 21 describe the acts of the sinful nature that are obvious. Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. This list would for sure cause any parent great embarrassment if it was the reputation of our children. Not to mention our disappointment because those who live like this wouldn’t inherit the Kingdom of God.
As Christian parents, our greatest desire is that our children would inherit the Kingdom of God. Well, I promise you moms and dads, there are many times that we will have to say NO to what our kids want in order to help direct them to the Lord.
At each age you will want to watch for some issues that you will, no doubt, encounter.
Fits of Rage: Ones and twos – If you don’t apply discipline very firmly at this stage, then your child will throw fits for many years.
Selfish Ambition: 2 years to adult – “MINE, it’s mine, and I don’t want to share.”
Envy: 2 years to adult – “They have more toys than me.” “They have an Xbox and I want one.” “I want a cell phone.” “I want a Mac laptop.” “I want a car when I’m 16.” Always wanting what someone else has.
Hatred, Discord, Jealousy: 2 years to adult – This will oftentimes be revealed through sibling rivalry … don’t allow it! Also, never allow the word “hate” to be used in your home. Saying the word instantly encourages hatred.
Dissensions & Factions: Be aware of “cat fights” between girls K-12th grade.
Sexual Immorality, Impurity, Debauchery, Drunkenness, Orgies and the like: Teenagers need lots of supervision! These temptations are great. Popularity, parties and relationships are never an excuse for these sins. Your kids can have just as much fun being involved in their church. Plus their relationships will be healthier if they are pure.
Witchcraft: This will sneak up on you and your young kiddos in the form of toys, books and movies. Later it will replace religion as your teen begins to explore the supernatural. Teach them what is evil and never allow any form of witchcraft in their lives. Teach them about the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.
Now let’s look at the good fruit in Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
We should strive to create an environment that will cultivate the good fruit in our own lives and in the life of our kids. Take a personal inventory; where do you see your kids struggling? Where should you say “no” more? Take the time to see what kind of fruit is in your family’s fruit basket.
Read more of these great tips from the series.
Trina Titus Lozano is the mother of four grown children, a former professor of home economics at Christ For the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas and the creator of The Home Experience Semester Course. The daughter of Devi and Larry Titus, Trina is the author of Wait, the Smart Choice Abstinence Education for Public Schools and the vice president of Wonderful Days, a nonprofit organization based in Fort Worth, Texas. Trina is a counselor, cognitive therapist and popular inspirational speaker at public schools nationwide who has been recognized by the State of Texas premarital counseling program, Twogether in TEXAS. Trina is the author of The ABCs, Absolute Basic Criteria for Raising the Next Christian Generation and is an ordained Christian Minister. She is open and candid, and her messages apply to real-life issues. Trina and her husband James (since 1983) reside in Colleyville, Texas have four children and nine grandchildren.