“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).
When we are reminded through The Word that “every parent is responsible” for the behavior of their children, we really need to revisit parenting skills.
The Word admonishes us to “start children”–from the time they are able to comprehend language–train them. Teach them what hot and cold are by placing their hands in warm and then cool water. Don’t scald or burn them or cause them to have freezer burn. I’ve been appalled by people who teach their children what hot is by burning them with a cigarette lighter. How cruel is that? And what does that say about those who “parented” them?
Talk to children from the time they are born (some believe even before then) so they will get used to hearing language. Forget the “baby talk” that does nothing but confuse. In fact, I’m beginning to believe that some parents never learned anything beyond baby talk themselves. Not speaking to children in normal, conversant language could lead to delayed development and a subsequent diagnosis of being special needs, when they are not.
Demonstrate–in front of children and even when they are not in front of you–how they should conduct themselves in any situation. Provide structured play time–when they have to sit still for a prolonged time. Teach to share and not be selfish. Encourage them talking to you–not yelling or cussing at them, but in actual conversation–about their toys, their dreams, their future careers, their favorite story–anything; just talk to them and allow them to respond.
Let them see you reading a book and not just sitting in front of a television set. Read to them–from a children’s bible or other stories–just read to them. Allow them to turn pages and follow your finger while reading to them. This gets them prepared for school and structured learning.
Teach them selflessness. Telling a child “no” prepares them to understand they cannot have everything they want. Establish means for children to “earn” things; don’t just give them things. One of the reasons we have a problem with invasions and robberies is that people have not been taught that they cannot have what they have not earned. Children can earn privileges by doing chores and maintaining good grades.
When children see parents steal and hear them plot how they’re going to steal, or destroy the property of others, they learn to do the same thing. Most of what is wrong with our society right now is that very few people have understood how to parent and they keep having kids and can teach them absolutely nothing.
The saddest commentary in our society today is to see the realities of a lack of parenting skills–babies have babies and the grandparents (sometimes as young as 28)–who did not finish school or learn a skill by which they could earn a living–think it is cute. Generational delusions about parenting and self respect result in societal ills that may never be fixed and we all become the victims of “no one having trained children in the way they should go.”
We cannot go backwards, but we can start where we are to seriously look at what may become of us and our society. Parents need to train their children to respect self and others. When children lack understanding of respect–their lack of respect mushrooms into the societal nightmare we now see. Be people of integrity and obedient to God’s Word–train your children in the righteousness of God and even if they stray for a moment, they will remember it when they get older and return to it. Plant the seed now and water it until it grows into the fruit of goodness. If we don’t take the time to teach them, our children will do the time–within institutions of society’s choice–the justice system.
Lord, help us today to see where we are going wrong in the training of children and help us to get it right.