In Deuteronomy 11:18-21 it says, “Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.” The Message
Steve and I have three grown children that we raised to be very healthy, God loving adults, spouses and parents. How did we do it? Definitely by trial and error and we watched many couples that were ahead of us and seemed to be raising great children. We wanted to learn from God and others that were doing a great job. With those two ingredients, we formed what we believe was good for our kids.
Growing up in my generation the saying “children were meant to be seen but not heard” was the case. We wanted to hear our children’s hearts and give them the freedom to ask us anything and we chose to give them honest answers according to the age they were. I believe that the scriptures in Deuteronomy speak of exactly that.
It is our responsibility to teach our children truth and instruction. If we chose not to, the world will teach them! That is very scary to realize what the world is teaching society today. Therefore we have to take seriously what God has instructed us to do. Here are a few ways that we taught our children:
1. We built a very safe environment for our children to ask anything they were curious about. We never laughed at them or made them feel embarrassed or belittled by their questions. This is extremely important to be able to talk to your kids about everything.
If you are not approachable, they will find someone who is. You absolutely want it to be you and then you must take the time to give them your attention and your wisdom on what they are asking. Kids ask why all the time and because we are impatient or just too busy, our pat answer is “because I said so!” That statement will leave your child feeling so insecure and unimportant in your life.
If you are not happy with the friends they are choosing, maybe you need to look at whether you are taking the time to talk to them and answer their questions and curiosity. When our middle son was in 3rd grade, he came home one day and asked if Steve and I were getting a divorce? I asked him why he would ask that and he said his friend at school told him that his parents were getting a divorce. I remember Steve and I sitting down and explaining to him, at that age, that we were committed to each other and that no matter what happened in life, we would work through it. If he had not felt he could ask that question, he would have lived with the anticipation that one day the same thing would happen to us. When was the last time you thought about what your children may be thinking as they watch others, TV and any media? They must have safety and freedom to ask questions….give them that!!!
2. We dated our children. We had 2 boys and 1 girl. The most influential person in your child’s life is the parent of the opposite sex.
"The most influential person in your child’s life is the parent of the opposite sex."- Debbie Wilson bit.ly/Myheuw—
Reviving Motherhood (@RevivingM) July 16, 2012
I have influenced my boys greatly and Janae has been influenced by her Dad. Knowing that we wanted them to grow up staying pure and having a healthy view of dating, marriage and sex, we took the time to teach them about that.
Steve would take Janae out on dates from the time she was 4. It was the highlight of her life. She would dress up, twirl and talk about it for days. Steve wanted to teach her how a man should treat her so that she never compromised in that area. Boy, did it work. She married at 24 and her husband is identical to her Dad in the way he treats her. She was a virgin when she married because she and I talked often about sex and what could happen when she went on a date and how to avoid getting into bad situations. As her wedding approached, she would often say “28 days til sex” as she counted down the days to her wedding. She has a healthy marriage and sex life because we prepared her in every way to see it realistically and view it as a gift from God. I never had that from my parents and it would have made a tremendous difference in my life if only my parents would have talked honestly to me!
I must also include that your children are watching your relationship. If you don’t model love in the way your treat each other, they will act out more on what they see than what you are telling them!! Be careful!
3. We provided “safe” nights for our children. Many of you may not agree on this but we did it and it provided ways for us to know what was going on in our children’s lives. Periodically, especially as they were young teenagers, we would have a “safe night” talk. This meant they could tell us anything and they wouldn’t be punished for it. It was amazing. They told us things that had already happened but it gave us the opportunity to discuss it with them and help them know how to handle that situation in the future. We also then knew where they were being influenced and how to keep them from those situations. Our grown children today talk about how wise that was of us! I can honestly say that only God could have given us the insight to know how to do that.
4. Lastly, we very much believe that Rules without a Relationship will always lead to Rebellion. You cannot enforce rules all the time and not build a healthy relationship with your children. The relationship with your children is the key to the success or lack of success in your children’s lives. They want to be taught by you, loved by you, valued by you, hugged by you, guided by you, and prayed for by you!
PLEASE see your children as God’s greatest gift that he has entrusted to you. Slow down, be patient and take advantage of every moment you have with your children. The time will go by so quickly and you can never get it back!