What do you think is the primary goal of child training, other than salvation? How are parents to honor the command: “…fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” Ephesians 6:4?
Children are gifts that are under parent’s authority for eighteen years. As they grow into maturity, parents release them back to God. The Bible gives an example to follow: 1 Samuel 1:27-28, states “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” God is requiring the same of parents today. When they become adults, your relationship has changed. They now answer to God and their future success will be an indicator as to how well you parented.
Three Keys to Successful Training:
1. Keep your child’s heart: Your child is trusting you to guard and nourish his/her heart. The key is to build a meaningful relationship. You are the most important person in their life, the primary educator, the spiritual guide and influence. Quality time invests meaning into their life and builds a healthy relationship.
- Treat each child as an individual. Your children have different temperaments, giftings and personalities. Study their uniqueness and honor how God has created them.
- Understand their love language. There are five ways to express and experience love that Chapman calls “love languages” receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Your child may not receive love the same way you do; therefore, be sensitive to how they give and receive love.
- Treasure their diversity and temperament. There are four fundamental personality types: sanguine (enthusiastic, active, and social), choleric (short-tempered, fast, or irritable), melancholic (analytical, wise, and quiet), and phlegmatic (relaxed and peaceful). Communicate according to who they are and not how you want them to be.
2. Train your child’s heart: Training a heart simply means to instill morals, values and character traits such as kindness, unselfishness, self-control, etc. In other words, impart a moral code of right and wrong. Train a child’s conscience to do the right thing even when no one is watching.
- Demonstrate and talk about how to hear God’s voice. Our goal is for them to hear God for themselves; model through reading the Bible, praying, talking and journaling.
- Allow them to fail and learn from experience. Share Biblical examples. Your job is not to keep them happy and comfortable all the time. That’s not real life. We are not training them to impress the world but to impact the Kingdom.
- Teach first time obedience. Understand that when they learn to hear and obey your voice; they will hear and obey the voice of God.
- Don’t allow them to control you. Lamentations 3:27 “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young”. A child centered home demonstrates, “As long as I do what they want, everything is okay.” Unfortunately, that’s training them to be entitled adults.
- Train them to be a servant. This will teach them to honor the family and to care about the best interest of others. Siblings then will become best friends.
- The power of choice. Train the power of a thought and to choose joy and/or blessing.
3. Guard your child’s heart: Be their protector. Watch who speaks into their life, books they read, and what they are watching. Solomon said, “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life,” Proverbs 4:23. A heart is shaped by what they think about all day long. Parents can help them to make wise choices.
- Guard your spirit. Parents carry a spirit that affects the culture in a home. Be sensitive to your mood and words. Words and actions have power to release a spirit that creates a warm, welcoming environment.
- Use discernment. Weigh every circumstance before you respond. Ecclesiastics 8:5, “A wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.”
Parents’ job is to love unconditionally, guide and gently correct their children as they hold their hearts. Never give up! Keep training and guarding your child until he/she is released into adulthood. When they return, you can celebrate with them knowing that you have prepared them for success and fulfilled your parent responsibility.