TRAIN YOUR CHILDREN GOD’S WAY
kind, to have any hope of successfully coping with all the unexpected things that life will throw at them. Ultimately, life is almost entirely about one’s ability or inability to get along with other human beings. Yet, schools do not offer classes teaching this vital understanding. The world’s false brand of Christianity has also failed to truly teach these things.
Of course, your children were born with absolutely no idea of all that they need to know about people until they are taught—by you! This means doing many kinds of things together as a family, which creates a variety of interesting settings that you can use as teaching tools. The balance of this chapter will address different types of rela- tionships inside and outside the family.
Parents, Not Peers or Pals
Another point of understanding has to do with a vital distinction in your role as parent and your offspring’s role as children. Remember that you are the parent and they are the children. It is not your job to be merely a “buddy,” “playmate” or “friend.” Many others of their own age will serve this purpose. Your task is to be their TEACHER— their MENTOR—the first and most important authority figure in their lives. While this does not mean you remain distant, impersonal, harsh or one in whom they cannot confide or ask questions as they would to a friend—because you are some kind of a stodgy, old professor figure—it does mean that you must never forget that you produced them instead of the other way around.
The Fifth Commandment—“Honor your father and mother”— was written to your children and it is to be expressed toward you, not the other way around. The command is not “parents honor your children” (of course, you should respect them as independent hu- man beings made in the image of God). Your children should never lose sight of the fact that you hold a very high “office” in their world. Remind them of this when you think they have forgotten it.
While your role is not to be merely “pals” with your children, remember that without a strong parent-child bond, built on the right foundation, your children will turn to physical possessions and plea- sures, sometimes illicit ones, for comfort. They will also have diffi- culty forming strong bonds in future relationships, and this includes both marriage and relationships with their own children.
It should be obvious by now that you can never allow yourself, under any circumstance, to become an “absentee parent.” While you have your own life to live, and you must never allow yourself to be a slave to your child’s every whim, beck and call, you must be present and accounted for in the fullest sense throughout their lives.
Sadly today, the most “successful” families seem to be those who wish to turn their children’s youngest years over to a nanny or other kind of caregiver. This means that such nannies or others who operate day-care centers often become the ones who see your chil- dren speak, walk or do other things for the first time. How incredibly sad for the parents who must hear these things in reports from others, when they could have been there themselves.
Give Your Children Parents Who Are Happily Married
Earlier in the book, you read statistics reflecting what happens when children are products of divorce. The picture is stark—and ugly. However, many other children are products of parents who remain married, but who are miserable, and who make no effort to keep this from their children.
Another of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to re- flect a picture of complete parental unity mixed with true, radiant happiness. These will be picked up and emulated by little minds, who will feel secure in the loving arms of two people who not only care about each other but who will be seen by the children as natu- rally caring about them as well.
The earliest nurturing of children is done primarily by the moth- er. This means that it is the father’s primary responsibility at the be- ginning to support her during this period. As the children grow, when overall leadership of the family becomes vital, it will be more impor- tant for the mother to somewhat modify her role to support the fa- ther’s lead and decision-making with the children. But it should also be noted that children who had fathers who were actively involved with them in the first two months of life seemed to handle stress bet- ter when they arrived at school age.
Clearly visible parental unity will breed family loyalty in the child who is privileged to witness this increasingly rare commodity in the home. Also recognize that happy couples are almost invariably the ones who produce happy children.
Force yourself to always PRACTICE and REFLECT both!