Recently, in a Bible study I’ve been doing called “God’s Wisdom for a Woman’s Life,” I was challenged to write down my childraising principles. Even though I had a lot of principles I used when my children were growing up, I never had even attempted to write them down. The idea of doing so now -- even though my children are all grown and gone -- was so that I would be able to share my principles and thoughts with other young moms, as we older women are commanded to do in Titus 2. So I did make a stab at writing down my principles. Since this is theoretically the kind of information I might share across my kitchen table, I thought it might be good to record them here on my blog as well. I have no idea if anyone else is even reading this, but I hope it might be helpful to someone, somehow. These principles, by the way, are in no particular order, though I do believe the first one to be the most important. From then on, I just wrote them down as they came to mind. Some of these things I started out doing; others I learned along the way. Some of them have been refined a bit as I’ve learned from other older or wiser women.
MY CHILDRAISING PRINCIPLES
1. Point children to God from the very beginning.
2. Start them on the habit of personal devotions as early as possible.
3. Make attending church services a regular part of your week -- something your family joyfully chooses to do, not something you’re obligated to do.
4. Teach your children to do their best. I relied on this bit of wisdom: “It’s not a sin to fail -- but it is a sin to do less than your best.”
5. Make sure the type of education you choose for your children lines up with your family’s Christian standards.
6. Have a “no-whining” policy with your children.
7. Have a plan in place to defuse arguments over who’s first, who sits where in the car, who got the biggest piece of dessert, etc.
8. Teach your children that delayed obedience is actually disobedience.
9. Emphasize the need to obey right away as important to their safety. (I once observed some children, for example, playing among parked cars on a busy street after church. The parents were trying to get control but the children were ignoring them. Delayed disobedience in this case could have led to injury or even death.)
10. Teach children early to begin memorizing Scripture.
11. Take every opportunity to teach children about the Christian life.
12. Make sure that you, yourself, are living the Christian life. Actions will always speak louder than words.
13. Help children to understand the important of right choices.
14. Require your children to try a tiny amount of whatever good foods are being served. If they like it, they can have more.
15. Pick your battles. Some things are just not important enough to make a big deal over.
16. Teach children to do simple chores at a very young age. As they grow, they can gradually take on more responsibilities around the house.
17. Teach kids money management -- saving, giving, responsible spending, etc.
18. Allow children plenty of time to exercise their creativity, and teach them how to clean up after themselves.
19. Factor outdoor play, fresh air and exercise into every day, if at all possible.
20. Help children to realize that they can’t always have things their way -- and that doing things God’s way is far more important to their happiness than having their own way.
21. Help children realize that life isn’t always fair -- but that God is in control of all of life, and He is always fair.
22. Teach your children to look at God, not the circumstances.
23. I didn’t allow boredom. There is always something interesting to do. If anyone complained about being bored (and my own children almost never did), they knew I’d find them a job to do.
24. Do all you can to emphasize books and reading, and to help your children learn to read well. Take them to the library and allow them to pick out books from an early age.
25. Be consistent.
26. Always follow through on what you say you’ll do, whether it’s a disciplinary action or a promise of something fun. Kids quickly pick up on it if you don’t mean what you say.
27. Help children understand that their actions always have consequences.
28. Take time to listen to your kids.
29. Appreciate each of your children as an individual. They are all different!
30. Consider either not having a television or using it mostly to view worthwhile movies of your choice. My kids grew up without one and I think it helped them learn to be creative and entertain themselves. It also helped their attention spans and reading skills.
In the study book I spoke of above -- “God’s Wisdom for a Woman’s Life” by Elizabeth George -- I found great encouragement in these words, which allude to the fact that training children takes a heart of faith. “As God’s mothers [that is, of course, mothers who love God and are seeking to walk with Him], we have to believe that, no matter how dark and discouraging things get or how many mysterious, heartbreaking turns the parenting path takes, our teaching is important .. just because God says it is.”