he most common question a parent would often ask themselves is- Am I doing a good job? Or am I doing it the right way/best way? As parents we are quick to condemn ourselves and others about this issue. Feelings of self-doubt and incompetence quickly creep in to our minds and even those who seem to have it all together, are not immune. Whereas there is no certificate for the ‘best parent’ award, and rightfully so otherwise the race would be for the award and the child in question would just be a pawn, there is one standard we can aspire to and that can be found in the book of Proverbs 22, in verse 6. God, who is all-knowing inspired the writer in the book of Proverbs to write ‘train up your child…. This is probably one of the most quoted and misconstrued verses in the Bible. An article some years back ascertained that this same verse had led to the abuse and death of three children in America. I believe the verse is not a go-ahead for parents to hit the children or treat them like animals that need to be trained. In fact more research into this verse has come up with an interpretation meaning ‘to disciple’. Discipline comes from the word disciple and from what I recall from the way Jesus modelled his relationship with the disciples, it was a ‘watch me do this, and then you try’. Modelling a life that is influenced by Christ There are currently programs looking into the high attrition rate of children who have grown up in the church but do not feel they belong. Events like ‘How to get your kids through church without them hating God’ coming to Jesus House on the 24th of May( so please save the date) explores this issue, but as distressing as it may sound, our role as parents is to train them up. I remember reading a book some months back about parenting, which explained that good behaviour and characteristics are caught and not taught. Teaching often involves one half of the equation but most children learn from observing, applying and then implementing. As our children’s role models we have a golden opportunity to influence them for life simply by practising and living our Christian faith in a very simple way not based on pleasing others, or looking good in public or
Children sense patterns; the more they see us put on and take off masks, the more they see a pattern for coping with life’s situations. at church for that matter. Children can sense patterns and the more they see us putting on and taking off masks to suit each and every situation we are already modelling a pattern they will eventually copy to cope with life’s situations. A lot of us parents are wounded soldiers, looking for healing. The home should be a safe haven between husband and wife, but this is often not the case. Marriage was designed by God but you wouldn’t have guessed that if you surveyed the church today. Divorce is at an all-time high and even those who are not divorced are ‘disdained’, they are together but it’s not a pretty picture. I was having a conversation with my daughter who is twelve, the other day; this is how it went: ‘Mummy there are many divorced parents in my school’, Knowing this meant she wanted to have more of a discussion I said: ‘ oh how many do you know and she said: ‘2’… Now a bit of context-over the weekend my husband and I had a bit of a row, and I know she overheard some of it. I braced myself and said: ‘well you know, marriage is something you work at and not something you abandon, most people walk away because they convince themselves that the other person is the source of all their problems…that’s why one should be very sure before getting married.’ I don’t know if this was a good answer but it prompted me to have a discussion with my husband about our conduct in front of the children. Because children process information from observing first, though we may go to church every Sunday, Wednesday, Friday etc etc, if what they are seeing on a daily basis at home does not add up, a spirit of confusion settles in. Modelling good habits Research shows that a child’s mind, when young is very malleable and as such, psychologists agree that the bulk of the ‘conditioning of a child should be in the early
years of their lives. Somewhere between the ages of 0-5, the child’s brain develops by adapting itself to situations in their individual environments. Our job as parents should be exposing them to good habits through the formation of good habits ourselves. So for example if we want Jenny to pick up her plate after supper we pick ours up and then we tell her to pick hers up. The confusion sets in when we say things like sweetheart you must not lie and then the phone rings and you say; ‘Tell the person I am not here’, or at the school drop off you tell a blatant lie to another parent while your child looks on. Now I am not saying anyone is perfect, we will slip up often, it is by Grace that we have been saved…although whilst visiting the US over Christmas I met someone who said she and her husband never lie… I am aspiring to that! Modelling good decision-making It is easy to rescue children from their problems, but we can help them more if we teach our kids the skills to solving their own problems starting from when they are small. In Cloud and Townsend’s book boundaries with kids he explains that as parents we need to allow our children to understand the difference between loving them and rescuing them. The way we model good decision making is first to show them how we make good decisions. Unfortunately modelling is something that happens round the clock even when we are not aware of it, so our bad decision making; like staying up to watch a movie instead of finishing a project and then blaming it on everybody else, will definitely be copied in some form. At the end of the day we are all work in progress and the best thing we can do for our children is to be led by the spirit of God in all we do, this way it make’s it easy to model the Godly characteristics that we would like them to emulate.
Living the life you want for your children by Joke Adedeji