Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thoughts on Raising Kids

How you are going to raise your children can be so controversial. There are so many theories, and as parents we can get in heated debates about it. That is NOT my purpose here. I've read much on this subject as I'm sure you have. One thing I will say is that we must be leery of anything that is contrary to Scripture. God's Word is perfect and true, and I believe contains the framework for all situations in life, including raising kids. The Bible is the first book we should turn to for all answers.

As I go about parenting, I'm realizing that the best approach is to be a forward thinker and work back from there - for instance, when your kids are all grown, how do you hope they will be? For us, we want kids who grow to be adults that have a true burning heart for God. We don't want Sunday Christians, who go through all the motions, appearing to be fine but inside struggling, and never turning to God for His help (isn't this how the majority of Christians are today?). So how do we get there from here?

As you read the Proverbs, it is perfectly clear that God is all about our heart attitude. Proverbs 4:23 says that the heart is the wellspring of life. So think with me for a minute about yourself as a child or a teenager. We learned quickly that if we behaved, we were rewarded for that good behavior. But how was your heart? Maybe you murmured "I don't like my parents for doing this to me"; or when it came to your siblings, "I won't hit you, but I still hate you"; or you wouldn't do certain things in front of your parents, but knew you could when they weren't looking. So while we were good to get the reward, or to avoid punishment, how was God feeling about what was going on in your heart? I don't think I Samuel 16:7 deals simply with "beauty is on the inside" if you know what I mean. As a mom, when my children are well behaved, I get puffed up with pride - they look great on the outside, I get compliments from others - but if I want them to be the adults I described above, I must watch for the attitudes that emerge from within - even the subtle ones that others may not notice. As it says in I Samuel 16:7 - God looks at the heart, and I believe as a parent, we need to turn our children's attention there.

So, in my quest on how to make this work practically, I found a wonderful website - Elizabeth, a mom of 10 (yes, 10) really tells it like it is. The most challenging thing for me, and honestly something I'm struggling with (not in an "I don't agree" kind of way, but in a "I REALLY agree, but have some serious changing to do, and its not going to be comfortable") is that our jobs as moms is literally ALL the time. Now if you're like me, a mom who stays home, we can feel so righteous sometimes. "Oh I stay home with my kids" as if we are so godly, and as if that was enough. Yuck - that prideful attitude is hideous. Lets go back to the fact that God looks at the heart - we may stay home and it looks so great to others, but then we constantly push the kids outside, or in the playroom, or off to friends all in an attempt to get some things done. Here's how Elizabeth explains it: "Many well intentioned parents are used to getting up in the morning, feeding and clothing their young children, then sending them off to play. Before too long they hear arguing and bickering coming from the playroom, or they glance out the window and see shoving and pushing going on in the back yard, or somebody comes to tattle on somebody else. The parents discipline and then send them off to play again and the cycle begins all over." If you think about it, where else will those heart attitudes come out more than in the playroom or while outside playing with other children? She suggests that your children should not be away from you, but they should be with you ALL the time so that you can pick up on the attitudes and deal with it IMMEDIATELY. "How on earth will I ever get anything done?" Well Elizabeth suggests that you do all you need to with them there right by your side, because after all, they will need those life skills as an adult (Talk about a true involved parent!). I won't continue to quote and summarize, I encourage you to check out her website.

Now I know some of you will be turned off with the whole spanking thing. She definitely goes there. I'm not here to address that - I don't feel that is my place to do. So whether you agree with spanking or not, still read her website, and I think you will greatly benefit from it. In all things, we MUST seek God. He WILL answer our cries for help.

Okay, I really have to go - I'm not making any of the changes I need to by sitting here on this computer!




Irritable Mother said...

My kids found a fallen baby bird the other day and brought it home to care for it. As I've watched them I've been thanking God for the compassion I can see Him developing in their hearts. I pray this trait will continue to grow and be a part of who they are as adults!
Forward thinking...Good thoughts!

Amy said...

This is a great post. I've read Shepherding a Child's heart by Tedd Tripp??? It went along these lines of biblical discipline but I definately need to refresh myself often. I really need to work on involving my kids instead of sending them off. It's a process of change. Thanks for sharing.

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
To stay at home is best.

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O'er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
To stay at home is best.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow