Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.—Proverbs 22:61
One day before long, your children will be grown and gone. You’ll be thankful then that you gave them what they needed when they were growing up. It wasn’t easy, you sacrificed a lot, but it was worth it! Joy, a missionary and mother of a large family, put it this way:
I’m looking at motherhood from another perspective now. I am beyond the initial years of diaper changing and midnight feeds, past potty time and a hundred scraped knees. I’m a grandma and a mommy rolled into one. My youngest children are still with me, but my eldest are married and have begun having children of their own. One blessed thought I want to share with younger parents as they face what looks like an insurmountable mountain of parenting is simply this: It’s worth it all!
I get a wonderful feeling looking at my children who are now young adults, because I see how the Lord has worked in their lives. It gives me peace and a fresh vision for the little ones still in my arms. … So during those hours in the night while you are keeping watch over a sick child, smiling when you want to cry, singing as you pray for patience, wiping little noses while you dream of someday doing great things for God, just remember that you are. You will never regret one prayer, one song, one loving word. Each small act of love reaches out to them and touches them for eternity. After all the years of taking it all by faith, someday you—like me—will be blessed at seeing what they have become. —Derek and Michelle Brookes2
Although love is essential to human life, parental responsibility extends far beyond it. Love in the absence of instruction will not produce a child with self-discipline, self-control, and respect for his fellow man. Affection and warmth underlie all mental and physical health, yet they do not eliminate the need for careful training and guidance.
The greatest social disaster of this century is the belief that abundant love makes discipline unnecessary. Respectful and responsible children result from families where the proper combination of love and discipline is present.
Discipline and love are not opposites; one is a function of the other. The parent must convince himself that punishment is not something he does to the child, it is something he does for the child. His attitude towards his disobedient youngster should be, “I love you too much to let you behave like that.” —James Dobson3
King Solomon, in Psalm 127, describes our children as arrows in the hands of a young warrior. … Hmmm, I reflected, So that’s how I’m supposed to view my children ... as arrows! They are designed to have direction and purpose, and they’re supposed to carry with them the possibility of making an impact and a difference.
I was just kind of carrying mine around in my quiver, hoping that one day they’d grow out of it and find a quiver of their own. … It quickly became obvious that the goals I needed to set for my children should cultivate their character rather than push them toward a particular career. I did not want to corner my youngsters into cozy little niches of my own design. Too many parents create boxes, then try to force their children to fit inside them. But those ill-fitting boxes hurt their kids’ hearts just as much as an ill-fitting pair of shoes would hurt their feet. Such stifled children sometimes end up with emotional blisters that eventually make it hard for them to walk or even stand up on their own.
I decided to cherish principles, moral fiber, and integrity above grades, athletic prowess, and tidy bedrooms.
To avoid establishing goals that were too restrictive or confining, I asked myself this question: Can my child either be a sitting judge or a standup comedian; a famous surgeon or a faithful garbage collector; an investment analyst or a lawn-care specialist—and still achieve the goals I have set for him? If I answered yes, then my goals were probably fair and my box was probably not too small.
I decided to accomplish my goal-setting by listing three to five qualities that I wanted to see emerge as distinguishing characteristics in each child’s life by the time he left home. I knew I couldn’t handle many more than that! I included traits such as honesty, generosity, commitment to family, contentment, and the ability to function independently. They varied depending on the personality of each child and changed somewhat over time—depending sometimes on my maturation as a mom. …
Completing this exercise provided definitive direction and purpose for my mothering. I found targets to shoot toward. If I noticed the negative traits I had chosen not to tolerate emerging in one of my sons’ lives, I knew it was time to intervene.—Gwendolyn Mitchell Diaz4
If you think of your children as small and unimportant, you will talk with them about small, insignificant matters. You will communicate trivia to them. And their growth will reflect this dimension of talk. You will leave behind a generation of stunted dwarfs.
On the other hand, if you see your children as future parents, future leaders, future men and women of God, and see them as growing daily toward this important role, you will do all in your power to shape their lives toward the grand objective of helping them become parents, leaders, and men and women of God.—V. Gilbert Beers5
Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. … Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.—Deuteronomy 11:1, 196
Compilation courtesy of www.anchor.tfionline.com. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
2 Power for Parenthood (Aurora Production AG, 2001).
3 Dare to Discipline (Tyndale House Publishers, 1975).
4 Mighty Mom’s Secrets for Raising Super Kids (RiverOak Publishing, 2001).
5 Parents: Talk with Your Children (Harvest House Publishers, 1988).