Starting Children Off

Let me just start this post out by frankly stating I am no parenting expert. For seven and a half years, I have been flying by the seat of my pants in this trial of guessing what will work best, thinking I have something figured out, and then realizing I am going to have to scrap the idea and start over. For someone who likes perfect answers, I can honestly say parenting is not for the faint of heart. It is a decision to get up each day and try again and again and again.

Some days I want to give up. Being a disciplinarian if far less fun than I guessed it to be. Sometimes I have to stick to my guns even when I want to give up and just go the easy route. So many times it would be easier to not even try, but I know that is not the task God has given me with the children he has blessed me with.

Sunday night Zeke was yet again refusing to participate in worship. At seven, I hold the expectations that he at least sings the songs he knows and hope that he will learn others by paying attention to what the adults are doing during the service. After two years of being in the auditorium, we haven’t made much progress.

He was being antsy and complaining that he was bored. I told him he needed to try singing and participate. My recommendation was met with pouting and refusal. Finally, I issued the last threat. He loves going to devotional with the teens after service, so I told him that if he continued on the path he was going down, we would be heading home instead and going to bed. He proceeded on the exact same trajectory and added some tears to the mix.

I wanted to go to devotional. I really enjoy that time I spend with our teens. Much to my disappointment, I was going to have to follow through on my ultimatum. It would have been so much easier to retract it and just go despite his response, but what would that have taught him? With many tears on his part, we headed out the door. Walking through the crowd at church with a crying seven-year-old left me feeling like a terrible mother even though I knew it was what I had to do.

The lesson he needs to learn is that we go to church to spend time getting to worship God. This is a privilege and he has to know that. Despite what I felt like doing, I had to make sure this hit home with him.

Being a parent is often exhausting. There are so many things that need to be taught to this blank slate of a child we are gifted with. Some are fun and easy, but others are tough and take a lot of work. Often we have to reteach the lesson over and over. It gets tedious and frustrating. Sometimes we feel like the bad guy even when we are trying to do the right thing.

Proverbs gives me the reminder that I sometimes need that it is my task to train up my children in the way that they should go. In today’s culture, that “way” is anything but popular. We have to push counter-culture to raise Godly children.

I remember when I was a kid my friends dubbed my dad, “The Fun Nazi.” We had a rather strict upbringing. Misbehavior was never tolerated and we were often not allowed to do what our friends were doing because it was not something a Christian should be doing. There was no going to parties. They were strict about who we were allowed to date. Church was an absolute priority so much so that our parents would pick us up from sports practices early if it interfered with Wednesday night church and Sunday practices were not even considered.

When it came time to look at colleges, the only options were we had to get a full scholarship to a university associated with the Church of Christ or stay home, go to school locally and stay involved with our home church. The option of going away to a state school and leaving it up to chance that we would find a church and integrate ourselves into it was not even a consideration. They were not leaving anything up to chance.

I used to think it was a bit much. I got the point. Did they have to make it time and time again? Why could they not relax a little and let us have some semblance of the childhood our friends were having? And, really, I could not choose where I was going to go to college?? I was 18. I was an adult. I should be making my own choices!

Twenty years later, all four of us hold college degrees, are married and parents ourselves. My parents have the gift of looking down the pew each Sunday and seeing Proverbs2917their children and grandchildren worshiping God together. They have the knowledge that even my brother who no longer lives locally is also active in the church he attends. The peace that comes with that has to be indescribable.

Now that I am a parent, I want nothing more than to sit at their feet and ask them what the trick is. The reality is that I know there is no easy answer to that question. It was a day-by-day decision to do the right thing even when it was not the easy thing to do.

For years my mom toted all four of us to church every Sunday morning by herself while my dad had to work. Just getting my two out the door if my husband is not home is overwhelming to me.

My memories of our evenings together involve my dad sprawled out on the floor with his Bible in front of him and a concordance alongside him. I know there were probably other things he might have wanted to do, but instead, he set the example of the importance of knowing your Bible.

Those are some of the same memories I want my children to have. It is part of what motivates me to write this blog. I want my children to see me studying my Bible. I want to set that example. I want them to know it is important and a task that I take seriously.

There is nothing more as a parent that I desire is for my children to be saved. Disciplining my children time and time again gets exhausting. Battling the same issues over and over is maddening. But, then I think of them in Heaven for eternity and I know what I have to do. I have to choose to fight the fight moment after moment after moment.

“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” ~Proverbs 23:13-14

Discipline them so that they spend eternity with our heavenly Father. There is no greater priority than that.

As always, if you have questions, comments or want to study further please e-mail me at TheRefreshingWell@gmail.com.

Mandy

 

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3 comments

  1. I so understand what you are going through Mandy and kudos to you for holding to the consequences. One of the early examples Mark and I saw was at Lafayette Church of Christ in St Louis when we were newly married. Of course like many churches the young and older teens like to sit together. The teens sat up near the front center section. One Sunday one of the teens was spotted by his Dad either talking a bit too much or passing notes I really don’t know. However we saw that Dad get up and go to that row and motion for his son to come sit with him and the boy’s Mom. We both commented that what an example. Even if Dad was a bit embarrassed to go up there he did anyway. And our kids were given a choice of “which” Christian college will you attend? Mark and I always said that if we didn’t raise 3 faithful Christians it didn’t matter what else they did; we would have failed. Hang in there. Fight the good fight. It is worth it.

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  2. Yes, you are doing the right things. It is hard and at times you question yourself but keep pushing on. There is no bigger blessing in my life than too sit with my kids and grandchildren worshiping together. It shows just a little glimpse of what heaven will be when we all get there.

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