We need good families. I believe there are many who want to be good fathers and mothers and to have obedient and respectful children. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that a parents job is done by simply raising their children. We are going to talk about how to train up a child.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
When I was younger I would hear the preacher and I wanted do what was right, but I wished the preaching would do more than tell me what, that it would also tell me how. Today I want to talk about some of the practical things to do raising children and building good families.
There is a lot of parental frustration and raising kids is hard. The Bible says:
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. (Psalms 58:3)
We don’t come into this world perfect, we come with the curse of the sin nature. Wickedness and sinfulness are as natural as breathing. It requires training to deal with the selfishness we are all born with. We need to replace the selfishness with thankfulness in our children. Rebellion must be replaced with obedience. Carelessness must be replaced with thoughtfulness. Rudeness must be transformed into politeness. Disrespect must be replaced with respect.
When we have children there is a lot of work that comes with them. If it was easy everyone would be succeeding. I just want to give you some practical tips on how to train up a child.
- Training is not raising. You can feed, clothe, send the child to school, teach the basics of life, keep him healthy, but this is not training. A coach can give an athlete a play book, get him in his uniform, and put him in the game, but that does not mean that the coach has trained him. Training requires work and discipline.
- Training requires consistence. This is the secret sauce. How many times do people start to implement the right training, but end up being inconsistent? It is easy to give up because it is hard work and it takes time. It is a full time job. You need to always expect the child to respond the way you want him to politely, quickly, and obediently. You can never give up or let down the expectations and discipline.
- Training is creating teachable moments. When my children were small, I would be working downstairs and they would be playing upstairs. I would create a teachable moment by calling one of them to come downstairs, and I would expect them to hear my voice and respond. I didn’t necessarily need them, but I would create a teachable moment and find something for them to do. I always expected them to hear and respond, even when we were in a crowded, noisy place. I expected them to always be listening for my voice and be ready to respond. I expected them to respond quickly and with a proper attitude.When I lived in England, one of the places we lived had a Mounted Police station next door. They had the horses, the stables, and the policemen who worked there lived in the community. One day I was talking to one of them in the park. He said they had been out for about 8 hours and it was time to get the horse in for his training. I thought he would be taking him in for a break. He said they always do the teaching when they are tired and cranky. He said that is the best time to work with them. We know that if we get them to respond correctly when they are tired and cranky, we know they will respond correctly when they are fresh. I learned to apply this when my children were tired and cranky.If a trainer only gets an animal to respond when they yell, what does that teach the animal? It teaches that the trainer is only serious when he yells. Many parents make the same mistake with their children. The children wait until the parents are mad, and that is when they respond. The goal is to teach them to respond the first time, every time.
- Training requires restriction. It says “train up” and we want our children to stand right and straight. For example, again, when we were in England, we were praying for a house, and we wanted enough place to play volleyball because we liked to have kids over from the church. God gave us a house with a park across the street, which was better because we didn’t have to mow it. It had small trees with stakes beside them and the trees were tied to them. This is an example of training up the tree to grow straight by restricting it. When the tree was strong enough to stand straight on its own they cut the bonds and removed the stakes. That is like it is with parents, when the children are trained they can stand on their own and the parents are no longer needed.There is a poem about a horse who wishes to be free from his fences and thinking his master doesn’t love him. If his master loved him he would let him run free through the meadows. The horse couldn’t take the restrictions any more so he jumped the fence and ran down the hill into the road and got killed by a semi-truck. Restrictions are put in place for safety.
- Training requires resolve. Remember, you’re the boss, your children are not. My daughter used to get into so much trouble, she was the first born. She was always wanting to boss her little brother. Some times we would have our children stand in the corner when they misbehaved, and we would have them repeat something so they would learn not to do what they had done again. One time I sent my daughter to the corner and had her repeat “I’m not a boss.” She was really mad, and at first she repeated it very defiantly. That only lasted about a minute, and then her tone changed and the tears started flowing.You must teach them that you are the parent, and this takes resolve. One day they will get to be the boss, and when they do, they will find that it is not a great as they thought because it comes with a lot of responsibility.
- Training often requires pain to protect.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24)
Sometimes, to bring healing, a doctor has to stick the needle into the tender wound. Even though he knows it will hurt, he does it because he cares and he knows it will bring the necessary healing.
The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly. (Proverbs 20:30)
When a child does wrong he has guilt within himself. If you don’t deal with it with discipline, the guilt can bring self-loathing and could lead to them harming themselves. We fail our children when we don’t bring discipline when they have done wrong.
Punishment is not discipline. Spanking is a biblical concept, but I want to tell you parents, that when you strike a child you need to discipline yourself in how you do it.. Don;’t do it to punish them, and don’t do it in anger. Discipline is a spanking done with restraint, and the child must know what he has done wrong. They need to be loved after the moment. They need to know that this was for correction, and that they still have the sweet fellowship with their parents that they had before.
Let me close with a quick review: Training is not raising, Training is being consistent, Training is creating teachable moments, Training requires restrictions, Training requires resolve, and Training often requires pain to protect.
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