March 16, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Training Children in Righteousness
Ginger Plowman, author, Assistant Director of Speaker Team
The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5, NIV)
"Don't make me count to three!"
"You just wait till your daddy gets home!
"You don't want me to come in there!"
"Do you want a spanking?"
"If you don't straighten up, you're going to get it."
Sound familiar? No matter how you phrase them, these types of statements all have one thing in common: They aid parents in avoiding discipline issues.
All parents want their children to obey, yet many fail to get obedience. Some threaten. Some bribe. Some use "time out." Others simply ignore acts of disobedience. Could it be that parents avoid these issues because they are uncertain in how to handle them?
We mothers tend to think that after a child's birth the hard part is over. We endured months of morning sickness, were shocked by the changes pregnancy brought on our bodies, and even survived the life-threatening delivery process itself. What a surprise it was to learn that the hard part was just beginning!
After my child's birth, I read about the stages he was about to go through - the so-called "terrible twos" were just around the corner. I scrambled to stay one step ahead of his development. As avidly as I read "What To Expect During Pregnancy" books, now I read "How To Raise 'Em Now That You've Got 'Em" books. As I studied Scripture and read books overflowing with biblical wisdom, it became apparent that I had to link discipline with instruction. . I had to learn how to reach past the outward behavior and pull out what was in the hearts of my children.
This sort of discipline takes work. There is so much more to raising children than getting them to "act" right. We have to get them to "think" right and to be motivated out of a love of virtue rather than a fear of punishment. We do this by training them in righteousness rather than just correcting them for wrong. There are three steps we can use for training children in righteousness.
1) Probe the heart. By asking your child a simple question such as, "How did you disobey?" you are teaching him to evaluate his own heart and take ownership for his own sins.
2) Teach what to "put off." It is God's Word that will truly penetrate the heart of your child. Therefore, use Scripture to show your child what God says about the particular struggle they are having and what it can lead to.
3) Teach what to "put on." It is never enough to correct children for wrong behavior. We must teach them how to replace wrong behavior with right behavior. This is what training them in righteousness is all about.
God's Word provides us with everything we need for training our children in righteousness. While it takes work to train our children in righteousness, remember that there is no garden as worthy of seed planting than the fertile soil of a child's heart.
If you are not sure how to locate the right Scriptures to help deal with the struggles your children are having (such as disobeying, tattling, whining, selfishness, complaining, etc.) you will find "Wise Words for Moms" a handy tool. This quick reference chart lists twenty-two common behavior problems and provides parents with simple instructions for how to deal with each one biblically. This information was taken from Ginger Plowman's new book, "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"
My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, thank you for the precious children that you have entrusted to my care. Please grant me wisdom to train them in your ways. Give me the discernment to know how to handle each situation. Help me to be patient and kind so that your love might flow through me. Amen!
Rather than simply dealing with the outward behavior of your children by administering consequences, make it your goal to dig deeper by moving beyond behavior and getting to the heart of the matter. Ask heart-probing questions and follow through with instructions for replacing what is wrong with what is right.
Am I more concerned with behavior modification than reaching the hearts of my children?
How am I using God's Word for training my children in the way they should go?
Do I avoid conflict with my children or do I use conflict as opportunities to train them in righteousness?
Do I use tactics such as threatening, bribing, or raising my voice in an attempt to get my children to obey?
Am I willing to replace those tactics with biblical instruction?
Ephesians 6:4, ...bring them [children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)
Ephesians 4:22-24, You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitudes of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (NIV)
Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (NIV)
Proverbs 22:6, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (NIV)
Proverbs 31:26, She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (NIV)
Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman
Don't Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman
Originally published Tuesday, 16 March 2004.