Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tools for Parents

I've learned a lot of expressions from my husband, and one of them is "You need the right tool for the right job." When it comes to raising our kids we've been given the right tools- Scripture contains all we need for life and godliness- but learning how to use them and apply them in our lives and the lives of our children is often a challenge. I don't believe there's a "one size fits all" method for raising children as each one is unique and needs different things at different times. But I do believe that God will give each of us the wisdom we need as we seek Him. Peregrine, our first-born, is smart, talkative, and funny. He's also very independent and has a strong will to rival his Mama's. We're continually seeking God for wisdom on how to train him up in the way he should go. God promised that if we lack wisdom and ask Him for it, He will give it to us, so I have to believe that He is guiding us as we guide our precious children. There are a few tools that I've begun to learn how to use recently that I believe are being effective in "building" our little man.
The first is using Scripture more regularly in teaching him, and especially in correcting him. It's easy to rebuke or discipline a child for disobedience and neglect training them in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." When we use appropriate Scriptures in the correction and training of our children we're teaching them how to apply God's Word to their own lives and depositing in their hearts Scriptures that the Holy Spirit can remind them of later. We also, by doing this, are showing them that there's a higher authority than Mom and Dad, a holy God who they will one day answer to. I often explain to Peregrine that part of my job as Mommy is to teach and train him to obey me so that he will learn how to obey God. An excellent book to have on hand is Parenting with Scripture by Kara Durbin. It's an alphabetical guide of various topics and issues that we deal with in our children (and in ourselves.) For each topic she gives several Scriptures that address it as well as things you could discuss with your child and practical ways to apply Scriptural truths. At Peregrine's age I choose just a couple of the Scriptures to read with him and then we can talk together about them, but for an older child you could have them look up several of the verses and use some of the suggestions as well. I know there are other handy reference guides like this and with any of them I think it's important to take the time to read the verses from the Bible, not just the book.
The second "tool" we've been using is the time-out. I know all kids are different but Peregrine would choose a spanking over a time-out any day. So I reserve the use of it, generally, for the thing that seems to be the biggest heart issue at the time: currently we're dealing with arguing. Any response that that doesn't show compliance means three minutes in Daddy's big chair and I start the timer only once he's quiet. The thing I've been doing differently with time-outs is that, when it's possible, I take a time-out too, and sit and pray for him. He knows that I'm using the time to pray for him and then we pray together afterward. This has been helpful for me, to pray specifically about the arguing when it happens, and of course God hears and answers our prayers!
The third thing I've learned lately also involves prayer. I've been reading a Proverb in the morning, but what started out as just reading has turned more into praying the Proverbs for my family. It's so easy for my mind to wander when I pray and this not only helps keep me focused but it also guides me in prayer. There's such a wealth of things to pray for and as I read each verse I turn it into a simple prayer for various members of the family and sometimes for all of us. It's also helpful to apply Scripture this way as it seems to stay in my mind more throughout the day, and as I deal with Peregrine sometimes a verse I read/prayed that morning comes to mind and I can share it with him. I find that many of the Proverbs apply to him, some for the stage he is in now and others for the future.
Here is an example of some of the things I pray as I read, taken from the first few verses of Proverbs 20, this morning's chapter:

1 Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
Lord, please keep our children from ever abusing alchohol and being led astray by it. Let them instead be filled with the Holy Spirit.

2 The wrath of a king is like the roaring of a lion; Whoever provokes him to anger sins against his own life.
Please help our children to make wise choices and stay out of trouble with the law.

3 It is honorable for a man to stop striving,
Since any fool can start a quarrel.
Help us to be peacemakers and to teach our children that as well.

4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter;
He will beg during harvest and have nothing.
Help Peregrine to be a diligent worker and be a good provider for his family some day.

5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding will draw it out.
Please help Peregrine to grow to be a man of understanding, one who will seek wise counsel.

6 Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,
But who can find a faithful man?
Help us to walk in humility; help our children not to be boastful, and teach us all to be faithful to You and to one another.

7 The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him.
Please help Erik and I to always walk in integrity and to leave a blessing of godliness for our children.

8 A king who sits on the throne of judgment
Scatters all evil with his eyes.
Please help our President to make wise choices that honor You and bring justice in this land. Let evil be scattered and strengthen him to do what it right in Your eyes.

I've been encouraged by discovering and using these tools. I share them with the hope that you may find them useful in building up your family as well.
Proverbs 14:1 "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish woman pulls it down with her own hands."
Lord teach us to build our homes and families, to be wise women who honor and glorify You.


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