Excerpted from the writings of Maria Fontaine
Part of helping your children to grow and mature is teaching them how to make the right choices in a variety of situations, and allowing them to have the exposure or experiences that will bring their lessons to life. The sooner you can teach them how to be discerning and make the right decisions on their own, the safer they will be and the better prepared they will be for the decisions they alone can make.
A practical example of this is if you have a pool on your property. You might build a fence around it to avoid accidents, but you’d also want to teach your child to swim, and over time help him become a strong swimmer. The fence is protecting him initially, but you’re also preparing him to handle water safely by teaching him to swim.
Imparting these life lessons cannot happen solely in the classroom. These “life lessons” are learned over time, and require lots of communication and discussion and experience in order for children to understand and to grow in these areas. These experiences and lessons will make them wiser, stronger, more well rounded, more mature, more perceptive and understanding, and will help them to be much better equipped for life. Experience is good for your children and prepares them for life, if you help them to learn through it.
What does it mean to prepare children for life? It means giving thought to how to help your children progress through the natural stages of growth and development, being aware and abreast of what their peers are into or facing, and preparing your children for times when they may have to face similar things. It means teaching your children to have courage when they’re faced with difficult situations, and how to approach new situations responsibly and with confidence. It means teaching your children how to judge what’s right and wrong, and how to act with integrity, self-discipline, conviction, love, tolerance, and strength of character.
These are life lessons that you impart to your children because they are components of good character that will help to set your child’s moral compass for life. Those childhood character-building lessons will serve them well throughout life, and you parents are key instructors in educating your children in this way, because through imparting your personal convictions and values, you are helping your children to find the right direction in their life. It’s well worth the effort to do your best to teach your children how to make their way through the negative or questionable aspects of society, to accurately judge right from wrong, and to base their decisions and actions on godly ethics and perspective.
Children today face many influences, and they will face more in the course of life. Some will be positive, some will be negative, and many will be somewhere in between. You might want to spend some time discovering what your children are facing that you might not have been aware of. You could talk to others that your children interact with and ask them for their opinion. Being prepared is far better than being surprised, and by giving time and thought and discussion to the possibilities, you can be better prepared for the various scenarios your children might face in the future, or that they are possibly already facing.
It’s only natural that children will sometimes make poor or wrong decisions, because they’re experimenting and still learning to apply the training you’ve given them. That’s why your active involvement in their lives as they encounter influences, fulfilling your responsibility to counsel them through the questions and help them determine how to make good decisions, provides them with ongoing “preparation training.” It’s teaching them how to live the theory of their character education in their everyday lives. Focus on helping them to develop personal conviction, teaching them how to make good decisions even when faced with peer pressure or other difficult situations, and building lines of open communication so that you will be able to guide them through the circumstances they will encounter.