Monday, May 18, 2009

More Parenting Tips

9. Train them to a habit of obedience.
"Parents, determine to make your children obey you, though it may cost you much trouble and cost them many tears...when you give a command let them see plainly that you will have it done."

This point is made clear multiple places in the Scripture. Ephesians 6:1 and the fifth commandment are two that come immediately to mind. This is exhausting, often discouraging, work. It helps to remember, as Ryle reminds us, that training them to obey you goes a long way toward training them to obey God.  "Teach them to obey while young, or else they will be fretting against God all their lives long, and wear themselves out with the vain idea of being independent of His control." 

A happy child is one who knows that Mom and Dad are in charge. 

10. Train them to a habit of always speaking the truth.
God is often presented to us in the Old Testament as "the God of Truth."  Surely it is an attribute He would have us cultivate in ourselves and our children.  Ryle also points out that being able to trust your child's word goes a long way toward your own comfort and assistance in dealing with him. I would rather have my child confess his wrong than to find out later that he lied about it. The children have some friends who like to tell incredible stories. The boys know that a lot of what they say is not true. The problem is that it has come to the point where they don't really believe anything these friends tell them. And, as Caleb told me the other day, "one lie always leads to another and another." 

11. Train them to a habit of always redeeming the time.
Oh, yes...this is a struggle at my house. I get very frustrated when my children come to me and say that they are bored. They have healthy bodies and minds and more than enough toys, but they are bored. I don't know why they even come to me with this complaint, because it almost always gets them at least two or three chores to do immediately. I like Ryle's reminder that all creatures were made for work. The angels in heaven work as they serve the Lord. A horse is never so healthy or happy as when he has work to do. Our bodies whither when they do not have regular work to do. I have found that we are all much happier when we have enough work to do that, when we have free time, we are thankful for it. I want to meet this challenge head on as summer approaches. We will have less school work but, by God's grace, we will have lots of things to keep our bodies and minds busy. 

All of these "tips" remind me again of my utter dependence on the grace of Christ. It is only by His grace that we can train the little ones that He has entrusted to us. It is also only by His grace that they can learn to do what is pleasing to Him.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Boys

  Pikes I love this view.  Our house is
in that little valley.

This hill is just a block or so from our house. 
It is the entrance to a wonderful, natural park 
with trails for hiking.

Best Buds!

On top of the world!
Hiking with Dad is great fun!

A quick break from parenting hints to post a few pictures of our boys. Caleb and Josiah went with Andy for a hike on Saturday in the hills behind our house. They had a great time and Andy got some good pictures. These two are best friends. It is fun to see them enjoying one another as they explore God's world. They love to be outside checking out the bugs and rocks and whatever else they can find.  We are looking forward to doing more hiking this summer. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Duties of Parents: Part III

The previous two posts  contained the first four "hints" for training children by R.C. Ryle. I love his practical, timeless advise. Sometimes it is encouraging to read things written long ago. It is good to be reminded that the parenting joys and challenges we face today may look slightly different, but Biblical truth never changes.

5. Train your child to a knowledge of the Bible.
"See that they read it reverently.  Train them to look upon it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God." 

"See that they read it regularly. Train them to regard it as their soul's daily food." We have struggled over the years to have consistent family worship. Sometimes it can be discouraging when the busyness of life seems to prevent us from spending that time together as regularly as we would like. But it is encouraging to remember the cumulative effect of all of the hours that we have spent in God's word as a family.

"See that they read it all. Children understand far more of the Bible than we suppose." It is amazing what kids can understand and retain. I fear that many children see the Bible as little more than hero tales. The characters can easily take on fairy-tale proportions. When we teach the Bible to children, we must always emphasize the gospel and make the glory of God the focus rather than the feats of men. 

6. Train them to a habit of prayer
"Prayer is the simplest means that man can use in coming to God. So long as you have a tongue to tell your soul's state, you may and ought to pray." We can teach our children to pray long before they can read. We can teach them what to say and how to say it.  And we can encourage them not to be hasty, irreverent, or careless. I love to hear the children pray. It is always a blessing to my soul to hear them open their hearts to the Lord. 

7. Train them to habits of diligence, and regularity about public means of grace.
The reality (at least in our home) is that Sundays are hard days. The "day of rest" is not actually very restful for us in some ways. We love our church and our souls are always fed when we are there, so in that sense it is restful. But it is also a busy day that can leave us physically exhausted. We have kept our children with us in the worship service since Kimberly was little. It takes a lot of training at first, but the fruit that worshiping together as a family bears is great and worth the trouble. We recently got the older kids new Bible covers which hold paper, pencil, Bible and mints. This has eliminated our usual Sunday morning scramble to find all of these things. We have begun to encourage the boys to write the sermon outline in their notebooks. Kimberly can pretty much take notes on her own now. And then there's me on the end of the row wrestling with Moriah for an hour and a half. Yes, we are back in that season of training with her!  Thankfully, our church views children as part of God's covenant family and a little noise, and cheerios on the floor are expected, even welcomed. There is a real danger, I think, when church becomes a place where children must be constantly entertained. There is great gain in having them watch how their parents worship and learn to participate with God's people.

8. Train them to a habit of faith.
"I mean by this that you should train them up to believe what you say." The point that Ryle is making here is that children need to understand that you know some things that they don't. What you say is for their best whether they can see it right now or not. He warns against reasoning too much with young children. Let them just understand that you know what is best for them, and they can trust your judgement. I think this applies especially to very young children. As they get older, it is important to give more explanation for things. Haven't we all had a three year old say, "why?" twenty thousand times when a simple command was given? In our house, we train them to say, "yes, Mommy," or "yes, Daddy," rather than "why." When they continually ask for a reason to do what they have been told to do, I have been known to say, "for a reason." In other words, I have a reason, but you don't need to know it right now. 

Ryle uses the excellent example of Isaac when his father, Abraham took him up Mount Moriah. He asked only one question, "where is the lamb?" His father said, "God will provide." and that was it. He believed that all would be well, because his father said so, and he was content.  (This is where we found Moriah's name. It's meaning: God will provide. How fitting that has been for her life.)

There is a lot more that could be said about each of these, but hopefully they are at least some food for thought. If you can hang in there, we will eventually get through all of them. There are some good ones coming up!