We all have different experiences as we raise our children. And we are at different comfort levels. For instance, some may be experiencing the temper tantrum stage…the terrible twos. Some may have children who are acting out and don’t understand what’s happening or why it is happening. Others may have grown children who are constantly in trouble and seem to have lost their way and nothing seems to help. You may feel like you are facing the giant Goliath but you know you are not a David.
David, a young shepherd boy faced one of his greatest challenges in life when he came up against Goliath, a giant warrior who was trained and well-armed. At some point, each of us will have a “David experience” and face trials and tribulations. These trials could be related to health, finances, or relationships. And yes, raising children could present big David and Goliath challenges.
David was looking across the Elah Valley into the eyes of the notorious giant, Goliath. As a shepherd boy, David had faced and overcome many disasters. God had always given him what he needed to succeed. But this challenge was different, this was Goliath, a giant feared by all. But, as we know, David was successful again because he did what he always did, he put his faith in God.
Have you had a day or days when you felt like you were having a David and Goliath experience raising your child? Perhaps, even now you are at the end of your rope and you’re questioning your ability to parent. Do you feel like you have tried every parenting technique in the book and nothing seems to work? If so, now is the time to do as Dr. Charles Stanley suggest, “lay hold of the kind of victorious faith that looks beyond what we can see to what God sees.”
David was successful because of his ability to trust God. If he had just looked at the giant, he would have ran away just as the other Israelites did. So, in facing your “David and Goliath” experience with your child, work on you and your faith…look to God.
To “Parent on Purpose” does not mean that you have to always “work on” your child. It also
means working on you and your faith. David had faith in the sovereignty of God; that’s how he knew he would defeat the giant. You too can gain this type of faith.
Doctor Charles Stanley tells us that “trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees. How can we gain that kind of faith and handle a David and Goliath experience with our child? Dr. Stanley tells us:
1. Ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17) And, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John: 1:9)
2. Recall past victories. Just as David remembered the lions he had slain, you must remember your victories. Spiritual victories are won in your mind. Do not cave into feelings of fear and doubt. Focus on the truth of God’s Word. God wants your children to know and love Him. Visualize a healthy relationship with your child. Visualize your child doing the right things. Recognize your child when he does the right thing and encourage him.
3. Reject discouraging words. No one encouraged David and told him that he could defeat Goliath. The soldiers laughed at him. Even King Saul and David’s own brothers laughed and doubting words to David. David did not listen to these disparaging comments. Instead, he turned his eyes toward God and found the encouragement he needed. Your child’s teacher may say things that will discourage you regarding your child and his behavior. Even relatives may put doubt in your mind about your parenting skills and your child’s behavior. You must remember to turn your eyes towards God and there you will find all the encouragement you need to “Parent on Purpose”, to parent God’s way.
4. Recognize the true nature of the battle. David entered the battle shouting to his opponent, “The battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47). The Bible tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The best way to fight this spiritual battle is to let go and let God do the fighting for you. Study His Word and Pray.
5. Respond to the challenge with a positive confession. David verbalized winning by saying to Saul, “The Lord will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine.” And to Goliath he said, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:37,45). David declared his belief that he could not lose because God was with him. Likewise, you should proclaim God’s promises. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24). “Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.”
(1 Peter 5:7). “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
6. Rely on the power of God. David did not use a javelin or spear to defeat Goliath. He needed his faith and a homemade slingshot. And he continued his positive confession. “Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear” ( 1 Samuel 17:47). God gave David the victory and David gave God the glory. Know that God wants you to raise children who will glorify Him. Confess it and possess it! “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3).
7. Own the victory. Even before he stepped onto the battlefield, David knew he would not lose. He knew that God always keeps His promises and he knew that God’s strength and wisdom would win the battle. Remember, “For the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4). You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you” Deuteronomy 3:33).
Yes, there will be challenges throughout life and some of them may involve our children. It’s true, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” And we can dance in the rain because of God’s promise, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
The Characteristics that God wants in our lives are seen in Fruits of The Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Self-control are specific behaviors that are the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christians life (Galatians 5:22)
The Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to respond to our children and others in a loving way regardless of the situation. As we give the Spirit more control of our lives, He begins to do in and through us what only He can do - to shape us and grow us to look like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Since God’s goal for all His children is for us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29), the Holy Spirit constantly works to rid our lives of the “acts of the sinful nature” (Gal 5:19) and display His fruit instead. Therefore, the presence of the “Fruit of the Spirit” is evidence that our character is becoming more like Christ’s. And, as we become more like Jesus, we respond to our children and others, in a way that is pleasing to God…The Fruits of the Spirit become evident in our lives.
There is a big difference between the good we do (works) and that which is produced by the Holy Spirit (Fruits). Warren W. Wiersbe explains the difference in his commentary. He describes works as a machine in a factory. It turns out a product, but it could never manufacture fruit. On the other hand, “Fruit must grow out of life, and in the case of the believer, it is the life of the Spirit.” He adds, “When you think of “works” you think of effort, labor, strain, and toil; when you think of “fruit” you think of beauty, quietness, the unfolding of life. The flesh produces “dead works,” but the Spirit produces living fruit.” Jesus is concerned that we produce an abundance of fruit because this is the way we glorify Him. The old nature can not produce fruit; only the new nature can do that. And we gain the new nature when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. And we do this by praying the sinner’s prayer* “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
What a blessing for Christians to know that the Fruits of The Spirit are available. We tend to think of the Fruits applying only to adults, but they apply to children too, even if they have not reached the age of reason. The key to developing these gifts in children is to facilitate their awareness in an age-appropriate way, teach them about Jesus so that they will come to love and seek a relationship with Him; and to let them see you displaying the Fruits of the Spirit as the Holy Spirit leads you.
The Fruits of the Spirit
Love: From the moment I held each of them in my arms, love took on a whole new meaning and left me with an overwhelming sense of love. A love so strong that I knew, if necessary, I would lay down my life for them. As they grew, I witnessed their innocent, unconditional love. God’s love is unconditional but it is also never-failing, and we, their parents had the awesome responsibility to teach them about God’s love. I also knew that as much as I loved them, Jesus loves them more and I must safeguard them, His gifts to us, and teach them about His love…”And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first commandment (Mark 12:30).
Love for God and others is the result of God’s perfect love. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11).
Joy: What joy to know that our children are productive citizens and have served their country. But, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). True joy, is produced by the Holy Spirit and is a Fruit of the Spirit. It is the realization of God’s favor and grace. It is happiness that is not dependent on the circumstances in my life. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:1-2). “Joy is the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” That something is the Holy Spirit.
Peace: For some, the very definition of having children means the absence of peace. Needless to say, I could not be with our children all the time and certainly could not protect them from all hurt, harm and danger, no matter how hard I tried. Realizing that peace results from allowing the Holy Spirit to work in my heart and mind, gave me a tremendous amount of peace… “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Allowing the Spirit to govern my mind gave me the peace that surpasses all understanding and allowed me to remember…”Be anxious for nothing , but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4-6-7). My family, like other families, experience struggles. but the words that Jesus used to encourage His followers also encourage me… “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Longsuffering: “Longsuffering is love on trial.” To be longsuffering is to have self-restraint and patience to endure injury and hurt from others. It means that you are slow to avenge wrongs against you. It is associated with mercy and hope and does not surrender to circumstances or trials. When I think of longsuffering, I also think of the words: patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance. Longsuffering is patience, accepting the temper tantrums, the spilled ice cream and the bickering that is part of childhood. Longsuffering reinforces the fact that life is not to be hurried, but enjoyed. Having children gives real meaning to 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud”. Being a wife and mother of 4 brought about special challenges that showed me what it really means to endure. Endurance enabled me to be emotionally strong and to forgive as well as ask forgiveness. Regardless of how tired I was, I could not stop being a mother, I had to continue the race. I had to set the example for them and therefore I could not give up. Now that they are grown, it is a joy to see them endure and get through their various challenges. They learned Paul’s instructions given in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.”
As a wife and mother, I have had the opportunity to practice longsuffering. Unfortunately, there have been times when my longsuffering has fallen short. But I am thankful that the Holy Spirit empowers believers to withstand challenging situations with perseverance and endurance. In all of His mercy, God allows me to ask for forgiveness, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13).
Gentleness: When I think gentleness, I visualize holding babies and gently stroking their hair, as the baby cuddles in loving arms. I visualize a display of gentleness as tears are wiped from the eyes of a crying child, gently whispering that everything would be alright. But the Fruit of the Spirit Gentleness is humility and thankfulness toward God and polite restrained behavior toward others. Gentleness conveys moral goodness and integrity and we are instructed to, “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5) Jesus gave us the perfect picture of gentleness: “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey” (Matthew 21:5) and Jesus describe himself as gentle in (Matthew 11:29), “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” And now He offers us His gentleness as a gift. If we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we will be filled with the fruit of gentleness.
Gentleness also means giving up the right to judge what is best for ourselves and others. God is not as concerned with our comfort as He is concerned with our spiritual growth, and He knows how to grow us far better than we do. Gentleness means that we accept that the rain falls on the evil and the just and that God may use methods we don’t like to reach our hearts and the hearts of others. Finally, gentleness does not mean going easy on our children when they have done wrong and try to justify their actions. It means being kind and gentle when disciplining her/him. But Paul says, "If anyone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness" (Galatians 6:1). This doesn’t mean to be so soft that your child doesn’t realize he has done wrong. It means to confront him in a manner that is in line with Scripture—to be mild, loving, encouraging, and clear about the holiness that God calls us to.
Goodness: It is not unusual to hear parents tell their children to “be good.” Telling them this is usually expecting it for a short time. The “goodness” described as a fruit of the Spirit is not a one-time special event or merely moral behavior, but an excellence of character. This goodness is only obtained through God’s grace and mercy. This is the goodness that I wanted as a parent and what I wanted for our children. Goodness, like the other Fruits of the Spirit, describes characteristics that we have only because of the Holy Spirit working within us. As the Holy Spirit worked in me, my life changed. This goodness allowed me to be virtuous in my words and actions without a need for acknowledgement. And yes, I fell short more often than not. But, because of God’s love and mercy, I ask for forgiveness and He accepted unconditionally. “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 106:1). This is the kind of goodness, mercy and forgiveness that I wanted for our children.
Faith: When our children cried at night, they expected us to answer their cry, and meet their immediate need, and we did. If they fell in the park, they knew we were there to pick them up. Our children believed in us. They knew we would take care of their needs. Their unwavering belief, their profound faith in us, served to reinforced my faith in God and emphasize that He will surely take care of my needs…Matthew 7:9-11: You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So, if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Each one of our children took us at our word and I took our Father, God at His Word. “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love him and obey His commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9). When Allison was plagued with fevers of unknown cause and Lauren had a growth on her head and the doctors were concerned, it was faith that gave me the courage to know that God was in control. It was that faith, that childlike faith that reminded me God’s love and that He cares about our pain.
To have faith is to defy logic. It takes faith to think positively. It takes faith to believe that there is a loving God who cares deeply about our pain. To believe in life, the universe, or yourself after numerous failures is to have courage. Faith is an act of courage. It is choosing to get up in the morning and face our fears and believe that God will help us. Faith is choosing to believe that even though we may have failed one hundred times before that we can succeed the next time.
Meekness: Baker’s Evangelical Bible Dictionary explains, “Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up. The use of the Greek word when applied to animals makes this clear, for it means ‘tame’ when applied to wild animals. In other words, such animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others.” One of the best definitions of meekness that I have ever read is that it is strength under control. Meekness does not mean weakness and being a doormat so that everyone can walk all over you. The definition of meekness is someone who is humble, teachable, and patient under suffering. The person who has meekness has the absence of any feelings of being better than others. Meekness is the correct use power and authority. Needless to say, it is important that parents use power and authority correctly. Remember, your children are watching and will duplicate your actions.
Self-control: The ability to control one’s body and its appetites and desires – physically and mentally – through the power of the Holy Spirit. Self-control relates to moderation in eating and drinking and other areas of your life. Self-control helps us say “no” to wrong choices. As the Holy Spirit works in a believer’s life, the fruit or the result is that the believer is able to pull away from the sinful nature and make a truly independent choice.
In order to develop self-control, we must first be honest with ourselves about our weaknesses. Some of us are tempted by overeating, others by greed or gossip. By being aware of what tempts us, we can take our struggles to God. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and we have self-control when we “keep in step” with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). He empowers us to overcome temptation and to withstand challenging situations with perseverance and endurance. Through the Holy Spirit we are able to have self-control. Parents help children learn self-control when they do not give in to the child’s demands or temper tantrums. Explaining to the child in an age appropriate way, why limits are set will help instill self-control in your child.
The Holy Spirit is already with Christians but is available to all of us.
If you haven’t done so, I would encourage you to reach out to Jesus and declare Him your Lord and Savior. If this is your desire, please pray this prayer:
* DEAR GOD, I KNOW THAT I AM A SINNER AND I ASK YOU TO PLEASE FORGIVE MY SINS. I BELIEVE IN MY HEART THAT JESUS IS YOUR SON; THAT HE DIED FOR ME ON A CROSS AND YOU RAISED HIM BACK TO LIFE. JESUS, I DECLARE THAT YOU ARE MY LORD AND I OPEN MY HEART TO YOU. CHANGE ME AND HELP ME TO FOLLOW YOU ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE. HELP ME TO BE MORE LIKE YOU AND TO DO YOUR WILL.
IN JESUS’S NAME, I PRAY.
If you prayed this prayer, welcome to the family. The next step is to find a church that teaches God’s Word and does not manipulate His Word just to be politically correct…pray for God to lead you to the right church. As Christians we are to “…Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus…”
As a Christian, you are armed with the Fruits of the Spirit. He alone can give us freedom from sin and self. He enables us to fulfill the law of love, to overcome the flesh, and to bear fruit. He helps us become more like Jesus and respond to our children in a way that is pleasing to God.
“Father’s, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." ~ Ephesians 6:4
A disciplined parent is one who clearly communicates with their children. Their children know what behaviors are appropriate, which ones are inappropriate. Furthermore, their children know what the rewards are for good behavior and what the consequences are for bad behavior. The disciplined parent focuses on encouragement and problem-solving. Disciplined parenting does not use yelling or severe punishment and remains consistent in how they interact with their children.
20+ ways to know that you are a disciplined parent:
If this list makes you feel like you are not a disciplined parent, take heart, it is never too late to become one. Don’t be discouraged. Remember, your child will pass through the stages of childhood quickly and you don’t want to miss any of them. So take a step back, examine your actions and decide what you need to do in order to become a disciplined parent and remember Matthew 7:8, “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” God wants you to be a disciplined parent and raise your children according to His word. Ask Him to guide you in your parenting and He will. He always keeps His promises.
“In You, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; Incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.
Trust is foundational to human relationships and it is important to teach children about trust and the importance of being trustworthy. It is equally important that children learn that not all people are trustworthy and therefore cannot be trusted. It is also important that you teach children how to go about knowing who to trust and who not to trust. The place to turn for guidance on how to do this is the Bible.
The Bible tells us that we must acknowledge that ALL humans…you, me, your mom, your dad, your children, are sinful. Romans 3:23 tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Because of this, it is very likely that trusts will be broken in relationships, people will disappoint each other. This does not mean that we are to avoid relationships, God wants us to interact with each other. What it does mean is that we should not expect anyone to be perfect and therefore we must not put our entire trust in any human. We must rely on God first and know that He is the one we are to put our ultimate trust in. Remember Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. And Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
God wants us to know that we cannot blindly trust everyone with everything and we cannot trust everyone with our children. And, we need to teach our children that they must not trust everyone. Children must be taught about distrust, that “feeling of doubt that you have towards someone or something”. Teach your children to recognize motives that are not pure, Proverbs 13:20 states, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Encourage them to stay away from people who have values that go against the values you have taught them…values that go against the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” You must be discerning about the people you trust and you must teach your children to do the same. Teach your children about discernment and the importance of following their intuition… the framework for protecting them from violence. Teach them this by teaching them the Word of God and by letting them see you doing what you are teaching them.
In his book, Protecting The Gift, Gavin De Becker states that, “To protect your child, you must believe in yourself. Safety starts with knowing that your intuition about people is a brilliant guardian”.
“If you don’t make the mistake of waiting for clear signals to become memories you wish you’d acted on, then you can defeat most predators. When you don’t trust someone who makes an unsolicited approach, when your intuition sends you doubt or suspicion, you’ve got all the information you need. People who never received permission to act on their intuition (and that’s most people) may wait until they can construct a logical reason to act, but I encourage you to give up the old way. When you listen to the natural signals of danger, you are teaching your children to listen as well, and that will save them a lot of conflict and self-doubt.” ~ Protecting The Gift by Gavin De Becker
In addition to teaching your children about discernment and following their intuition…that “still small voice,” there are other actions you should take to keep them safe:
The most important thing that a child could ever learn is the existence, character, and plan of God. So remember, if you teach your child to trust God first and foremost and not put his complete trust in others, then he will be free to trust others and know when not to.
The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. ~ Proverbs 20:7
As a parent, you may find yourself in situations asking, “Do I trust my child? Do I trust what she is doing or saying?” What we often forget to ask is, “Does my child trust me?” Trust is a two-way street and believe it or not, it must be earned.
Trust is foundational to human relationships and it begins when a baby cries and his needs are met. His cry is his only way of letting you know that he has an unmet need. He cries to let you know when he needs affection…to be hugged, cuddled and comforted. He may be hungry and need you to feed him or wet and need to be changed. Whatever he needs and as you meet his needs, he learns that he can trust you. Responding to his cries, helps him learn to trust not only you, but the world around him. By responding to his needs, you are building a foundation of trust for your child.
Trust building continues as your child gets older… by keeping promises, being honest, respecting him, listening to him, and being consistent with your parenting. Establishing trust and confidence is how you can build a meaningful relationship with your child and cope when parenting gets tough. In other words, “A healthy relationship must ultimately be based on trust. To build trust, you always keep your word. You remain consistent and dependable in everything you say and do. You become the kind of team player who is utterly reliable in every situation. You never do or say anything that can shake this foundation of trust upon which a healthy relationship is built.” ~ Brian Tracy
Brene Brown’s acronym, BRAVING, emphasizes the qualities that contribute to building and sustaining trust.
B----Boundaries: Can your child trust you to be clear about the rules and regulations that you have established? Can she trust you to give her room and to say “no” when it is called for? Can she respect you to allow her to say a respectful “no” and will you understand?
R----Reliability: Will you do what you say you will do? Will you keep your promises? Will your actions match your words? Can she trust you to be consistent?
A----Accountability: Can she trust that when you make a mistake you will own it and apologize and make amends? Will you allow her to hold herself accountable for the mistakes she makes and give her the opportunity to apologize?
V----Vault: Will you keep her confidence? Will you be sensitive to the things that embarrass her and not repeat them because you think it is something cute to tell?
I-----Integrity: Can she trust you to model what integrity looks like? Will you let her see you choosing the harder right over the easier wrong? Will you practice your values and not just verbalize them?
N----Non-judgment: Will you allow her to cry without judging? Will you allow her to struggle and make decisions without judging? Will you allow her to see you reaching out for help when needed and helping others without judging? Will you show her respect? Will you listen and show genuine interest in what she is saying?
G-----Generosity: Will you assume that her intentions are good and when you are not sure, you will talk to her about it? Will you make the best assumptions about her instead of the worst?
Trust between you and your child is vital and must be built and sustained. But remember you must also do what Proverbs 22:6 tells parents to do… “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This includes teaching her about trusting God. Teach her that God is sovereign and that He works on behalf of His children. Teach her Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Teach her that when all else fails, it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
Trust is foundational to human relationships and it is vital to establishing confidence and assurance so that your child knows that she can rely on you. The key to building trust with your child is to start when she is young and to emphasize the qualities that contribute to not only building trust but also sustaining it. And, as she learns to trust you, she will find it easy and necessary to trust the One who loves her more than even you do…our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
Raising children is daunting at best. Do you remember the feeling you had when the delivery room nurse handed you your baby? Remember that sense of awe and overwhelming love? And as they prepared you for your discharge home, you realized that you have the complete responsibility for someone other than yourself…what she eats and drinks, when she eats and drinks, what she wears, her education, on and on…it is now completely up to you, her very survival depends on you, her parents.
If I ask you to prioritize your responsibilities regarding your child, you would probably find it difficult to rank order them. Oh, food and shelter would probably rank high on the list. But, after that, what would your list look like? And what about your role as teacher? What would you say is the most important thing that you should teach your child?
I agree with Paul David Tripp, “The most important thing that a child could ever learn is the existence, character, and plan of God.” According to Doctor Charles Stanley, “Very early in your child’s life…introduce them to the fact that God has a plan for them.” In Deuteronomy 6:5-7 we read, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
I prayed that our children would become productive, independent citizens. I wanted them to love each other, help others, have successful careers, think for themselves and above all, love God with all their hearts and souls. In order for this to happen, Dennis and I had to take action, we had to lead our children to know and love God, we had to be diligent in leading our children to Jesus. We read Bible stories to them. We didn’t just send them to church, we took them. We used every day occurrences to introduce them to stories about Jesus. And, we prayed with them.
Yes, raising children is a daunting task. However, we must remember that, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” If God made you a parent, through adoption or birth, He will give you what you need to raise your child. You can be the parent God wants you to be. And, you can raise your child to love God and seek His plan for her life. You just need to seek Him and follow Him. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Remember, God always keeps His promises.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words never harm me.” Remember hearing that as a kid? Or perhaps you have even said it. Well, words do hurt. In fact, although they don’t break bones, they can break a child’s spirit. And if the child’s love language is Words of Affirmation, it can be devastating.
Ephesians 4:29 states, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” In other words, think before you speak to avoid hurting your child.
What is your tone? When you speak to your child, it should be loving and comforting, not mean and hateful. Believe it or not, your child will remember the tone more than what you said.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ~Proverbs 15:1
1. Don’t compare your child to anyone. It can be very painful for a child to hear you say, “Why can’t you be like Jody?” Or “Why do you have to be like you are.” Or, “Your brother would have done it right.” Comparing your child with others can break his spirit and can hurt his self-esteem. God made each of us unique. He doesn’t compare us, what gives us the right to compare anyone?
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. ~Psalm 139:13-14
2. Don’t Accuse your child. Even if you know your child lied, don’t yell and call him a liar. It is best to state the facts and discuss the consequences. Use it as a teaching moment.
The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong. ~ Psalm 37:30
3. Don’t say things that you can’t carry through. “I am going to send you to live with someone else.” You know you have no intentions of doing it and it just serves to confuse your child. He’ll think you won’t carry through with other things you say.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. ~ Psalm 141:3
4. Don’t ask your child a question that you know the answer to but don’t want him to answer. Asking your child a question and then telling him to be quiet just serves to aggravate him and you.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14
5. Don’t be demeaning. Calling your child stupid, idiot, lazy or tell him that he can’t do anything right. It isn’t true, it’s hurtful and if you say it repeatedly, your child will start to believe it.
Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21
6. Don’t minimize your child’s feelings. Acknowledge his feelings, they are real to him. Children feel real hurt, real disappointment from their friends. Encourage them to talk but do not disregard their feelings.
Wise words satisfy like a good me; the right words bring satisfaction. ~ Proverbs 18:20
7. Don’t give up on your child. It is normal to get upset, frustrated and aggravated and want to through your hands up when you’re stressed and the kids are exhibiting bad behavior. Whatever you do, don’t say things like, “I’m done”, “I’m through with you,’ or “I quit.” This hurts your child and he can feel like you no longer love him.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:39
8. Don’t sink to your child’s level. If your child tells you that he hates you, don’t respond in kind or say something like, “I wish I had never had kids.” Those words are very harmful and could have lasting negative effects. Just let him know that you will always love him and nothing will ever change that.
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19
9. Don’t exclude your child. If you are talking to an adult and your child comes in, introduce your
your child as you would a friend, don’t ignore him. This teaches child politeness and makes him feel wanted.
And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Titus 2:7
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ~ Ephesians 4:29
Words can hurt children. The wrong words, the wrong tone and the wrong body language can scar a child emotionally, can shatter a child’s self-image and can even turn him/her into an emotional cripple. You may be thinking that you would never say or do anything that could harm your child in that way. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is done unknowingly. The good thing is, God has given us just what we need in order to take care of His gift to us, our children.
Below are some common situations that may require you to respond to your child and how you should respond based on scripture. Some of these can present a challenge especially when things are hectic. But remember, awareness and practice make a big difference.
1. Listen, do not interrupt your child. If you ask your child a question and you don’t like the path it is taking, do not interrupt. Interrupting negates his feelings and if done repeatedly, it could lead to low self-esteem. Afterward, affirm the conversation, but make sure it is sincere and honest.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. ~ Psalm 141:3
2. When you have made a mistake say, “I’m sorry”. This teaches them how to apologize and how to take responsibility for their actions. “I’m sorry” can also serve as words of affirmation for your child.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:32
3. Limit when and how you tease your child. Children don’t think abstractly enough to get sarcasm, which relies on high-level reasoning. And, even the jokes they do get, can internalize them, resulting in negative effects. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you.
Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. ~ Ephesians 5:4.
Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. ~ 2 Timothy 2:16
4. Don’t overuse the word, “No.” Sometimes you have to say, “No.” However, if you say it too much your child will start to “turn you off.”
The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; Proverbs 15:28a
5. Don’t yell or scream. Yelling makes children more aggressive, physically and verbally. Yelling is an expression of anger, scares children and make them feel insecure. Calmness, on the other hand, is reassuring, which makes children feel loved and accepted in spite of bad behavior.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1-2
6. Eliminate the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Just think about what this is saying to your child! It sets up a contradiction between your words and your actions which can confuse a child. And it does not help them learn how to make choices.
The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong. They have made God’s law their own, so they will never slip from his path. Psalm 37:30-31
7. Don’t pressure him with expectations that are too high. Don’t tell him he will certainly make the team or that he will certainly get an “A” on the test because he studied. Instead, encourage him and after offer the appropriate praise. i.e. “I’m proud of you because you tried out.”
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25
8. Don’t say things like, “you never” or “you always”. Speaking in absolutes is almost like not
telling the truth because absolutes are not 100%. Use truthful statements.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24
9. Avoid saying, “Because I said so.” Giving them a reason why something can or can’t be done will help them learn. It is best to be honest with them if there isn’t a reason. Furthermore, the “Because I said so” answer can cause resentment and lead to behavior problems.
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!
10. Don’t exclude your child. If you are around other adults and your child is with you, introduce your child just as you would a friend. This teaches your child how politeness.
And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. ~ Titus 2:7
Parents have an awesome responsibility raising children. God left us written instructions to show us how to take care of our children… His gift to us. It is up to us to let God’s Word guide the words we speak to our children.
“Touch provides its own language of compassion, a language that is essential to what it means to be human.”
If your child’s love language is Physical Touch, it means physical expressions communicate love to him more than Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts and Acts of Service. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, in their book, The 5 Love Languages of Children tell us that in order to keep your child’s emotional tank full, you must speak his primary love language but it is important to use them all.
The body’s physical response to touch and the fact that Jesus healed people by touching them emphasizes to me the importance of touch. Physical Touch is a universal love language and no other form of communication is as universally understood as touch. “The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of being lonely.” ~Randi G. Fine.
PHYSICAL ASPECTS AND RESPONSE TO TOUCH
The sense of touch gives our brains information about the environment. It helps us feel physical pain, helps us avoid injury, disease and danger. Touch also signals safety and trust. If we’re upset, it soothes us and it helps us feel emotion. Hugs are a powerful way to demonstrate the language of Physical Touch. In fact, a simple hug can activate oxytocin, the love hormone. Additionally, hugs may protect you against illness, boost your heart health and hugs make you feel happier. Studies done by Harry Harlow have shown that there is a psychological and physical stunting and even death in children who are deprived of physical contact. Infants can receive all the food needed to survive but will still fail to thrive if they don’t receive physical contact. This is why hospitals and orphanages have volunteers hold and cuddle babies who have no one to love them. The physical contact is needed for them to thrive.
The Healing Touch
Jesus performed countless miracles and some of them involved touching. To me, His HEALING TOUCH, emphasizes the importance of touch. I also want to stress that the person being healed had FAITH and believed Jesus could heal them. Let’s look at few of them.
Matthew 9:29 Two blind men were following along behind Jesus asking Him to have mercy on them. They went right into the house with Jesus where He was staying. Jesus asked them if they believed He could make them see. They both answered, “Yes Lord, we do.” They had faith and Jesus TOUCHED THEM.
Mark 1:41-42 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus begging to be healed. He said to Jesus, “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and HE TOUCHED HIM. And the man was healed.
Mark 7:31-36 Someone brought a man with a speech impediment to Jesus and begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. Jesus, spitting on his own fingers, touched the man’s tongue and looking up to heaven, he said, “Be opened.” And the man’s tongue was freed and he was able to speak. Why? Because of his faith and because Jesus TOUCHED HIM.
Luke 8:43-48 Jesus was on his way to heal a man’s daughter and as usual, there was a crowd around him. A woman in the crowd had suffered for 12 years with constant bleeding. She went up behind Jesus and TOUCHED the fringe of his robe and she was immediately healed, the bleeding stopped.
Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” Despite the crowd, Jesus knew that someone had deliberately TOUCHED Him. The lady explained why she touched him. And Jesus said that her faith had made her whole.
Luke 18: 15-17 One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could TOUCH them. But, when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering Jesus.
But Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” He took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and he blessed them. HE TOUCHED THEM!
Doesn’t it stand to reason then that Physical touch is one of love’s strongest voices?
The Love Language of Physical Touch
Unfortunately, there is a sick, dark side to Physical Touch…and that is the inappropriate touch. Parents you MUST teach children that all touches are not good. Please, have this discussion with your child. It is needed in today’s world.
Margaret Atwood is right, she said, “Touch comes before sight, and before speech. It is the first language, and the last, and it ALWAYS tells the truth.” Teach your child to know the TRUTH in a touch.
Think back to your childhood. Did your parents say, “I love you”? Did they hug you? How did you know they loved you? Was it just because they made sure you were fed, clothed and all of your other need were met?
I knew that I was loved because my Father, Mother and my Grandmother “spoke” each of the love languages to me. My primary love languages are Acts of Service and Quality Time. I scored the same on both. Interestingly enough, the fondest memories I have as a child are the times we spent as a family watching Westerns. Every Friday night we sat around watching TV and eating snacks my mom made. To this day, I love Westerns and enjoy them even more when my husband or one of our kids watch them with me. Another fond memory is sitting with my Grandmother during a thunderstorm. During a thunderstorm everything was turned off and we had to sit quietly. My Grandmother and I would sit and watch the weeping willow tree in our front yard sway back and forth. Just sitting with her, watching that huge weeping willow tree sway back and forth spoke my love language…quality time. I don’t remember hearing the words, “I love you” but they probably were spoken. The important thing is, I knew I was loved because my primary love language was spoken and ALL the other love languages were met.
As you might imagine, hugs and kisses are the usual and most common way to speak the love language of Physical Touch. If you didn’t receive a lot of hugs growing up, you might feel awkward hugging your children. And if you do, I suggest you do what is needed to start hugging your child. But, if this is you, while you are adjusting to this new way of speaking your child’s primary love language, there are other ways to show love through Physical Touch.
Other ways to meet your child’s Physical Touch need (you can find a list of needs in the book The 5 Love Languages of Children:
1. Hold hands
2. A gentle pat on the back or smoothing the hair down
3. Hold your child or sit close when watching TV
4. Read your child a book and let him or her sit on your lap.
6. High five
In their book, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell stress the importance of avoiding corporal punishment and threats with this child. They suggest using other means of discipline for a child whose primary love language is Physical touch.
Not speaking your child’s Primary love language is like eating just one type of vegetable. At some point, your body will miss certain nutrients and you will start to crave other foods. Likewise, if you don’t include your child’s primary love language, he or she will crave it and may even start to act out.
Remember, your child needs you to love him/her using ALL of the love languages. But, if Physical Touch is his primary language, you want to make sure it is included and used in your tool bag of love.
Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.
Traditions are usually formed around a person’s core beliefs and support values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, personal responsibility and a strong work ethic. Traditions are based around daily events or holidays, and even around weekdays or weekends, showcasing things that are important to us.
Daniel Willingham states, “Family traditions reveal what you value enough to repeat. And, if done with love – build warm, happy associations.” Over time, we have formed a number of family traditions that reveal our values of faith, love and importance of family. They are connected with Christmas, summer vacations and school/sporting events.
OUR FAMILY TRADITIONS
Just thinking about Christmas brings about sweet memories. I personally kick Christmas off by watching Hallmark Christmas shows…alone. To this day I am teased about watching them. Now, our daughter-in-law joins me. The entire family watch the seasonal movies about the real meaning of Christmas. The Saturday after Thanksgiving we decorate the Christmas tree with ornaments that have meaning… they were made by our children, represent a special event, or was given as a special gift. And, each year we purchase the White House ornament to hang on the tree.
The big Christmas dinner takes place on Christmas Eve. For dessert, we always have a birthday cake that has “Happy Birthday Jesus” written on it and we sing, Happy Birthday to Jesus and the Christmas Eve program at church is always in order.
Each family member opens one gift. The gift is always a pair of Christmas pajamas. When the kids were little, I supplied and wrapped the Christmas Eve gift. Now, we have a friend secretly assign each adult a Secret Santa and he/she is responsible for buying the pajamas for that person. The parents buy and wrap pajamas for each of their children. The highlight of the evening is when the gift is opened, starting from youngest to oldest, and the pajamas are modeled. The funny thing is, you never know if your pajamas will be traditional or if they will be a gag gift. It is so much fun and brings about laughter throughout the year.
Breakfast is very light on Christmas day and most of the day is spent opening gifts, watching the kids play with their toys and sometimes joining in with them. Throughout it all, we remind each other of the true meaning of the season and why it is important to us.
We also have traditions tied to school and sporting events. Some of our friends told us that they would pay their children for receiving good grades. However, Dennis and I believe that the grades were their reward. So, we would look at the report cards, talk about not just the things they did well but discussed how they thought they could improve. We sealed it with a dinner out to celebrate the close of another marking period.
For the sporting events, all of us attended if the games did not conflict. If there was a conflict, we would divide up and each child was represented by a family member-cheerleader. And, we would arrange to meet up for lunch or dinner. We spent time at dinner discussing how the games went, what could be done to improve etc. The famous phrase that came out of these games was, “Talk about my game.” And it is a phrase that is still used.
Like all families, we look forward to summers and many traditions center around being together and enjoying each other’s company. We gather together for a week or so and a few things are always on the list of “things to do”. One day is set aside for a big water fight using balloons and water guns. Another day we leave early, travel to our favorite amusement park and spend the day on rides, playing games and eating all sorts of junk food and yes, this includes cotton candy. More often than not, we are there until the park closes. Another “must do” is a series of games of laser tag. We go to our local Laser Tag Game Store, and play several very competitive games of Laser Tag. The winner is always photographed and a big deal is made of it. The important thing is that it was a legitimate win. We never wanted the kids to think that they were getting something for nothing. It was never, “Everyone wins” but it was always, “Everyone has a good time.” When we moved out of the area, the first thing the grandchildren asked was, “What about our summer visits? Believe me, the tradition continues with slight modifications even though we live in a different place.
From each of these traditions, our children were learning values that were and are still important to us. Daniel Willingham statement is true, “Family traditions reveal what you value enough to repeat. And, if done with love – build warm, happy associations.” Our traditions, are done with love, and has allowed our children and grandchildren to build warm, happy associations with family.