THE ABCs (Absolute Basic Criteria) FOR RAISING SPIRITUALLY SENSITIVE CHILDREN
The first 3 of 26 topics represent what I believe to be the absolute basic criteria for raising spiritually sensitive children. I have begun with Authority because it is the absolute foundation of good parenting. That doesn’t mean that I believe that the authoritarian style of parenting is the most effective. I actually tend to be more permissive in my own personal style. The principle function of disciplining and training our children is to teach morally responsible behavior (i.e. righteousness); biblical discipline achieves that end more successfully than either permissive or authoritarian parenting styles.
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” (I 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.
A is for Authority
There is no quick and easy way to rear a child. It takes 18 years of constant work to get one into presentable enough shape so that you can proudly release them into the “real world.”
Pastor Ed Young says, “You must get under the things that God puts over you, so that you can get over the things that God puts under you.” This was an “Ed Line” that he used over and over again in a recent series at Fellowship Church called “Authority Issues.”
To understand the importance of Authority as it is clearly established in the scripture, turn to Hebrews 5:7-8. Jesus was reverently submitted to his Father God (under His authority) so He could be designated by God to bring eternal salvation and become the High Priest. (Jesus was over, we are under.)
I must be under the authority of God and my husband, so that I can become the authority for my children. Webster’s definition, “authority”: The power and right to command. Our responsibility as parents is to accept the power to command.
I teach bi-weekly at the Fort Worth detention center. This is jail for kids between the ages of 12 and 16. They are held until they learn that they must submit to the authority of the law. You can know for sure that they were never taught at home to submit to the authority of their parents, and this is where it got them. Guaranteed, their parents also have authority issues. How sad.
My children learned as infants that I was the boss, the commander. As the mom, I have the power and the right. I have the power to feed you on a schedule, to choose what, where and how you eat. I have the power to determine your bedtime. I have the power to choose what you wear as an infant, and I keep that power all the way through your teen years. Yep, that’s right. My son is a “rocker” with no piercings or tattoos, because his dad and I have the power and the right to determine his appearance. Both of our daughters dress modestly because we have the power. We are submitted to the authority of the Word, and, therefore, our children must submit to us.
“What do you want, sweetie?” a new mom asks her baby. Well, we all know that the newborn hasn’t developed the analytical skills necessary to fully and completely determine the differences between a like and a dislike. Yet, as parents, we already begin to tune in to what we think the child wants and adjust our own behavior accordingly—for the sake of “happiness,” that is. “Keep ’em happy” is the concept, and we are deceiving ourselves thinking that we are doing a good job parenting.
Scripture is very clear. Happiness can lead to selfishness, and selfishness (or pride as the Word often calls it) comes before a fall, only breeds quarrels, is deceiving, leaves no room for God (Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 13:10, Jeremiah 49:16, Psalm 10:3-5) and on and on and on. Happiness is no substitute for holiness. Hold on to the reins of your authority as you embrace each stage of parenting. Establishing the right authority structure in your home is the first key to raising spiritually sensitive children. A good rule of thumb is to meet all of their needs and half of their wants.
B is for BELIEVE!
Raising our children to believe in God, as we do, is becoming more difficult in this generation than in any other time in history. Josh McDowell reveals in his book, “The Last Christian Generation,” that only eight out of 10 of our children who have been raised in Christian homes will continue in their Christian faith as adults.
I have always believed—had complete confidence—that my children, who are now 24, 21, 18 and 15, would choose to believe in God and serve God in their own personal relationship with him. Why? Well, why not? Why wouldn’t they believe? God has been so faithful to our family. As my daughter Brittany once said, “We walk in miracles!” She was actually repeating her great-grandmother who often says the same. My kids know that we couldn’t live a day without a relationship with God. We pray continually—as we drive in the car, as we do homework, when we eat, when we exercise, when we go to bed. We ask God for miracles, and we notice daily that He is at work in our lives, and we thank Him.
A few years ago, I participated in a Beth Moore Bible study, Believing God: Experiencing a Fresh Explosion of Faith. Beth had us memorize a five-statement pledge of faith: 1. God is who He says He is. 2. God can do what He says He can do. 3. I am who God says I am. 4. I can do all things through Christ. 5. God’s Word is alive and active in me. “I’m believing God!” I learned and I taught my kids.
As Beth Moore says, my “theology must merge with my reality.”
Either you have faith or you have fear. I am convinced that fear, doubt and worry are what many children observe when they watch their “Christian” moms face the trials that are an inevitable part of each of our lives. That’s a problem! It is that hypocrisy that causes many children to not believe. They begin to question, “Why should I be a Christian when mom and dad still worry about everything?” Why is there fear? Where is the faith?
Our theology as a family must line up with our reality! We should have no fear about anything ever. We believe that God is in control.
My children have watched me believe. Believe for a strong marriage, believe for financial provision, believe for healing, believe for success in a career shift and believe for direction in a relocation—basically for anything and everything. I believe and they believe with me. WE BELIEVE!
Living a life without fear in our home did indeed create an atmosphere of faith.
Three of my children are grown, and they still believe that God is who He says He is! They are Christ followers because they believe.
Choosing faith over fear, what a smart choice!
Walking in miracles, now that’s a great life!
C is for Conscience
Developing your child’s moral conscience is possibly your most important job as a mom. God already created your child to have a primary conscience from birth, and that provides the inborn sense of right and wrong. However, your child’s moral conscience provides the learned standards of right and wrong.
Every daily activity and interaction that we and our children participate in brings us new ethical situations and circumstances that call for a moral response.
Gary Ezzo, author of Growing Kids God’s Way, explains, “The human conscience develops by positive and negative means. Negative training includes restrictions, consequences and warnings, and parents should use it predominantly in the early years. Positive training includes instruction, encouragement and reinforcement and predominates in the middle and upper years. While the healthy conscience development requires both positive and negative training, an overemphasis on one to the exclusion of the other at any phase of growth is unhealthy.”
Two terms that describe conditions of the heart as a result of right or wrong training are “assertive” and “prohibitive.”
Assertive: The assertive conscience says, “I should choose to do this because it is right,” or “I shouldn’t do this because it is wrong.”
Prohibitive: The prohibitive conscience says, “I had better do this or else I will be punished.”
The difference is that the motivation to make right choices is not made out of respect for God and the love of virtue, but rather out of the fear of punishment.
Dear women of God, I think that we need to add to our “Momisms.”
Our cliché responses that include, “If you do that, then you are going to get a spanking!” Or, “You’d better not, or you’ll be in time out.” Or “If I find out, then you’ll be grounded for a week.” These responses only develop our child’s prohibitive conscience. As we focus on building our child’s assertive conscience, we will change our words.
For example: “You will want to pick up your toys because it’s the right thing to do. God has blessed us and we want to take care of our things.”
“You need to do your homework because it’s the right thing to do. It’s important to always do your best. You are so blessed to have an education.”
“You don’t want to wear that, because it isn’t right. It is immodest, and it wouldn’t be right to expose your body like that.”
The conscience is the moral warehouse of the soul. We want to fill up that warehouse and train our children to recognize right and wrong. Soon they will make smart choices for the right reasons. God will be honored, the kids will feel better and you will be a proud mom.
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, TX 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. Trina has been recognized by the state of Texas premarital counseling program, Twogether in TEXAS. Trina is the Author of The ABC’s, 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.