The ABCs (Absolute Basic Criteria) for Raising Spiritually Sensitive Children – Part 9
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.
‘S’ is for Structure
Your children need STRUCTURE. Regular family routines give children the structure and security that will make every day more peaceful and predictable. Structure will also build lasting family memories.
The research and work of people like Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, Jerome Bruner, Jane Loevinger and many others have proved that children learn internal structure and discipline by first experiencing external structure. It is a natural sequence. The child gradually internalizes that external structure.
We are establishing a healthy lifestyle for them. When your household is in an almost constant state of agitation and chaos, there has no doubt been a lack of structure and everyone is miserable. The children are actually responding to a chaotic system.
I recently read a story of a family whose family life was changed by adding a structured routine of eating dinner together at the table.
Ever since last year, when their 8-year-old son, Christopher, asked if they could stop eating dinner around the television and instead share one meal a week together as a family.
“On Wednesday nights we come to the table dressed, with our shoes on and our hair combed, like we’re going out to dinner,” Christopher’s mom says. “There are no phone calls, no cellphones, nothing for an hour, from 6 to 7 p.m. We use our nice dishes and take turns setting the table and saying the prayer.”
She immediately noticed the benefits of the scheduled times with the kids. “It helps the kids learn manners, but we try to keep it fun. Christopher even reminds me not to put my elbows on the table. It is a great way to talk to each other and a great time to make decisions. My son and daughter are able to relate without fighting. There’s nothing we can’t tackle over dinnertime.”
Drs. John and Linda Friel say, “When a system is in chaos, you can enter it from almost any door and if you focus on making one small change no matter what, it will eventually calm the chaos and allow more structure to emerge.”
I am not a list-maker or a routine sort of person by nature, so I had to be very committed to this idea of putting my kids on a schedule. I trusted the advice of the Ezzos, and we became a scheduled family from the time that they were infants until they were grown and gone.
Our family structure over the years has been random but constant on a few things. We ALWAYS go to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. We have pizza on Friday nights and we do chores on Saturday mornings and family movies or games on Saturday nights.
I was coaching a new mom and advised her to pretend that she was running a day care/pre-school for her young children. The daily routine should have a structure. For example: breakfast, free play, clean-up, snack, recess (outdoor exercise), lunch, reading, nap, art, dinner, bath, parent time, then bedtime.
Having structure is never about rules. Too many rules and micro-managing your kid is NOT what I am talking about. In fact other than the Ten Commandments, I didn’t have house rules. I hate rules! I would rather you not make a silly rule and then have to decide when it can be broken.
Rule number 1: Never wear shoes in the house.
But almost daily, we run out the door and forget something and therefore have to run back in and up stairs to retrieve the forgotten item. So, why didn’t we take off our sneakers when we ran into the house? Why did I, the rule-maker, break the rule? Because it isn’t practical.
We do want to respect our carpet and not track dirt into the house, however, I recommend that you structure a time at the end of each day (like Mr. Rogers used to do) to change into play clothes and house slippers. Then we all do it together. No nagging, it’s just part of the routine. We teach our children to respect our floors without making it a rule.
Rule number 2: Never eat in the car.
Good luck with that. This rule is impossible to keep on a road trip. Or if you live like me in a city as big as Dallas, everywhere you go is a road trip, complete with traffic and a long car ride. So don’t make it a rule. Rather, make it a routine to clean out the car when it needs it. Carry in the stuff and put it away. Throw away the fast food drive-through trash, wipe up the spills with soap and water and use the dust buster for the crumbs. Clean the car together. This will teach them respect for the car and you will set a structured routine to clean out the car before hopping out and rushing off to the next activity.
Every day we wake up and choose. Will today have structure or chaos? You’re the parent. It’s up to you!
Read more of these great tips from the series.
Trina Titus Lozano, mother of four grown children and grandmother of nine, is 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. She 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.