“Praise the Lord! I found One!”
These are the words spoken by my 5-year-old and my 3-year-old as they rummage through a toy box looking for legos. They are much older now, but it is my joy to hear them still speak of God, the Bible, and their walk with God. In a society and generation where God takes a back seat to political correctness and social humanism, it is refreshing to hear children reference God with such eager excitement.
Some may raise the cry of “brainwashed,” but I care not. My children are incredibly happy and excited about life, especially now that they are teenagers. If that is brainwashing, so be it. It disturbs me that parents today shy from instilling solid values, even Christian values, into their children–as if cultivating a mentality of morality, decency, honor, and spirituality is a bad thing.
The world teaches us that we need to allow our children to go their own way, to become their own person, but that implies that such a goal will always be a good thing and parental interference a bad thing. That’s absurd. The Bible clearly warns that a child left to himself will naturally and invariably bring shame (Proverbs 29:15).
Left to their own devices, a child will not learn these values. Like it or not, you don’t teach your children to lie, cheat, steal, or be selfish. They do these things with no training at all. We must teach our children to say, “Thank you” and “Please.” Else, they will instead say, “Gimme that! That’s mine!”
Parents, the job of transferring values and morality is your job. Not the school’s. Not the Church’s. And not the daycare center. Your job. But society has frightened us into backing off this important aspect of childrearing. I deal with parents who feel it improper to go into their own children’s room and snoop — as if violating their child’s so called privacy will somehow call down the wrath of the ACLU or local Social Services Agency or, worse yet, somehow alienate your child. It matters not that God holds the parents accountable for the raising of our children. Parents have been scared off.
Or worse, parents no longer really care.
The average parent hopes their child grows up and just doesn’t embarrass them too much. As long as the child doesn’t embarrass the parent, the parent decides the child is a success. That is disturbing.
Parents, don’t be afraid to instill good values in your children. It is as children that they are the most receptive to the values and morals you believe in. Trying to instill values into teenagers or adults is a much, much harder thing to do.
Here are some things you might want to consider:
TAKE THE TIME TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN VALUES
When my children were little, I would often, just before bed, take a value that is important to me and teach it to my children. We use the Bible. And I use anything else that helps. One particular value I recall well was teaching them what “considerate” meant. I gave them examples and asked them to find two times, the next day, to be considerate and to tell me about it. I treated it like a homework assignment. And it worked! They were so excited to tell me how they were considerate to mom or a brother.
Don’t just assume they will get it. Teach them! Show them! Practice with them!
TAKE LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN VALUES
I love chess. So, naturally, taught my children to play. But I made it into a learning experience for them. As I taught them the lessons of chess, I also teach them the lessons of life. For example, watching one son play against his brother, he had an overwhelming major piece superiority. So what did he do with this advantage? He started gobbling up all the loose pawns on the board. He didn’t even think about checkmate and started making mistakes because of his greed! I pointed the problem out to him and then said something like this to him:
“Son, going after all those pawns means you’re ignoring the most important thing. In life, if you focus too much on the minor things, the important things my slip by you. Or you may get around to them too late. Keep your goal in mind. Don’t get distracted by things that look good, but take you away from what is important.”
I then gave him some real world examples of this. These lessons are ongoing. People often call them “teaching moments.” Take advantage of those moments. Even driving down the road, I can find examples to teach my children values and biblical principles. Having a daily devotional time is fine and can be of tremendous value, but personally, these interactive teaching moments go a lot further. When they can see the Bible applied, even practice it in that moment, it sticks.
Deuteronomy 6:7 — And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
LIVE BY YOUR OWN VALUES
The right example is the best example. Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. His wisdom was so great that he even wrote an entire book to his son just to help him live right. But it didn’t work. Rehoboam didn’t follow the wisdom of his father. He forsook the wisdom and acted on foolishness and split Israel into two nations!
Solomon, though incredibly wise, apparently didn’t have the character to follow his own wisdom. He was turned by his many wives. Having wisdom does not mean you have the character to follow it yourself.
Teaching your children values is wonderful. But they may end up following what you do, not what you say. Do your best to follow your own values. Live them. Allow your children to see how following those values benefits you and them. Show them the importance of the values you hold!
And when you are older, you may be able to agree wholeheartedly what John wrote:
3 John 1:4 — I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
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