Training Children: The Life Work

“The parent’s part is to train them for life, to send them out of the home ready for whatever duty or mission God may have ready for them….What we want to do with our children is not merely to control them and keep them in order, but to implant true principles deep in their hearts which shall rule their whole lives; to shape their character from within into Christlike beauty, and to make of them noble men and women, strong for battle and for duty. They are to be trained rather than governed. Growth of character, not merely good behavior, is the object of all home governing and teaching. Therefore the home influence is far more important than the home laws, and the parents’ lives are of more moment than their teachings.”-JR Miller

It is easy to forget our purpose as parents. Too often children can be seen ruling over parents as the parents strive, the best they can, to maintain some control, but really feeling helpless to the manipulation, dreading certain circumstances where the lack of control is made obvious.

I bumped into acquaintances recently at the grocery store. A mom, dad and their two-year-old. With barely our hellos exchanged, Mom said, “We’re just trying to get through this with her. She’s the child you hear screaming through the store. We’ve tried bribing her, we’ve tried threatening her, nothing works.” I know the girl enough to know that nothing is wrong with her. She’s a normal little toddler exerting her will. I’ve also observed the “problem.” A new set of parents, enamored with her antics, allowing her to rule the home. A misunderstanding of the privilege of growing her to maturity, helping her discover the safety of authority and the necessity of self control.

From our distorted sense of “why” we are given children (they are actually not for us, but for Him) to a society driven by self-indulgence, this generation seems largely unprepared to bring up responsible, mature children who will become responsible, mature adults. And that’s just the beginning for believers who are also instructed to bring up children who will live fully for Him, reflecting His character in all they do.

I just want to encourage you with a few practical words if you are a struggling parent:

  • Do not get confused about what authority is and isn’t. So much new-age parenting (even in Christian teaching) forsakes the wisdom of Scripture and teaches that a parent doesn’t have a “right” to claim authority or to require obedience. That is simply a lie and will destroy a child.
  • Authority is established EARLY. I have said, “the battle is won or lost in the high chair.” My eight month old is beginning to test the boundaries around him. It seems like a little thing, but when he squeals in anger because I don’t get the spoon to his mouth fast enough, it’s an opportunity for me to help him begin to understand self-control. I can pause, tell him “no” with a calm but serious tone (he gets it) or, I can do the easy thing and give him what he wants as quickly as possible, laughing at his “cuteness.” But that cuteness will turn ugly fast and soon I’ll find myself in a grocery store line blushing because he’s using the same tactic to get what he wants there, only louder. Yes, from the time they are born, we move them forward; it’s our job to “grow them up” in a thousand ways.
  • Don’t flippantly tell a little one to do something that you aren’t prepared to see accomplished. If you don’t really care if they pick up the toy, don’t ask them to. If you do care, make sure they obey when they are told.
  • If you are getting angry at your child it’s most likely because you are not requiring obedience. Tell them clearly, get them to answer you so there’s no question whether they heard you, then follow through with discipline if there is outright disobedience.
  • Understand that your diligence or lack thereof has huge implications for the “success” of your children. The degree to which you help them develop self-control and self-governance and respect for authority, will enable them to be better husbands and wives, friends, employers, employees, and children of God. Yours is a grave responsibility if you have been given children.

“Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” Proverbs 19:18

 

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47 Responses to “Training Children: The Life Work”

  1. Kim says:

    Wise words from a seasoned Mom. Thanks for posting these much needed sentiments! (I hope to post a link from our blog if that’s okay.)

  2. Keri says:

    I am really thankful for the Christian Examples I had while my children were growing up.My husband and I did not grow up in Christian homes and we really were clueless.I remember a friend asking me once if my oldest daughter was deaf because as a toddler she did not listen at all.I basically had no idea that you could teach a toddler to obey or come to you.We jokingly say that our three oldest were our guinea pigs..lol.They are now(the three oldest)responsible adults and I really do give the Lord the credit.If you follow after him with all of your heart and seek him, he will help you in everything.Sometimes just having an understanding heart of what another mom might be going through really helps and showing her by example or sharing stories of how the Lord helped in certain areas when our children were younger can help another mom around us who may have no idea.I completely agree with Kelly that the new age philosophy can very easily creep in even amongst Christians.Know your Bible and search it and cry out to the Lord for wisdom.I’m still a stay at home momma to my three teens and have to remember to do this daily.I really love what one of my friends said about children.Yes..our children will make mistakes..but it is how we respond to them that will show the world that our love is different and that we are Christians.I would also say at the end of the day to have some fun with your kids..because as a momma to four grown ones now..27,24,22 and 19, they will remember all the love and training you gave them.Still doing this with a 16 and 13 year old..

  3. I love this! It’s really so important to remember *why* we do what we do as parents. If we believe that the only reason we’re disciplining our kids is so that they don’t annoy us or make *our* lives miserable, then it can become a great temptation to just say, “I can live with the chaos today; it’s easier to just give in.” But when we realize that the reason we are disciplining our children is for GOD’S glory and our children’s eternal benefit, the risks and rewards of that discipline (or lack thereof) become so much greater. Hopefully, our desire to glorify God and to give our children the solid foundation that they so desperately need will outweigh the pain and hard work that good, biblical parenting really requires. It’s so worth it in the end!

  4. Carolina Jackson says:

    Very good post!
    If we want first time obedience, we need to apply first time discipline too.

  5. Kelly L says:

    Wonderful post! Super good points.
    I used to get so irritated when people would tell me how lucky I was to have such a compliant daughter. Ummm, NO! SHe was the most strong willed kid I’d ever met, but we were willing to put the time and effort in to make sure her strong will that the Lord gave her was used for righteousness, justice and love!
    Now, at 11, we can trust her in groups of non-Christians (sports, for a brief, somewhat supervised time) and she will lead the group, rather than be swayed by it. It is hard work (and I am sure more to come) but it is worth it to have other parents remark how different and kind she is. She is bringing glory to God by evidencing Christ, one of her main purposes in life!

  6. Kristen says:

    I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this idea of character vs. behaviour. Well, I understand it in principle, it’s more fleshing it out in actuality that I have trouble with.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Amen! We practice obedient behavior around here a lot. It’s more difficult in the short term than letting everything slide, but in the long run it is so worth it. My children in their teen years are a joy to be around.

  7. Michelle Kenworthy says:

    Excellent!!

  8. Amanda says:

    Kelly this was a timely post. I spent a lot of time thinking I didn’t like children and that I didn’t want them. Then my husband and I started to have a change of heart. I started volunteering to babysit and be around real children and I’ve noticed that the children I don’t enjoy being around are those who have not learned to obey authority. Often these children have labels like ADD or high functioning autism, but…I wonder how many of these children are so labeled because their parents looking for an explanation for why they don’t like their own children? An excuse for all the unacceptable behavior and outbursts. Of course I realize that some children do have real medical issues and I’m not qualified to make the distinction, but a lot of these kids seem rambunctious, not ill or challenged.
    Knowing this, however, doesn’t make it easier to make the choice to have children. I am not sure I’m capable of raising respectful children and I really feel crazy when I’m around disrespectful children for any amount of time. Parenting skills seem like something some women have and others don’t. I let my cats get the better of me…I can’t even imagine how I’d train a child.

    • 6 arrows says:

      Amanda, it is encouraging that, after you were thinking you didn’t like or want children, you and your husband started to have a change of heart. I can understand, though, how it would be easy to have the doubts and fears you mention in your last paragraph after the experiences you’ve had since volunteering to be around children.

      I used to be a school teacher before (and during the first three years of) motherhood, and saw a lot of the types of unacceptable behavior you describe. I want to encourage you, Amanda, that the poor behavior you and I have seen out there is not something we are helpless to prevent when parenting our own children.

      Don’t let other people’s failure to train their children convince you that you won’t be able to train or enjoy your own children. (Sorry for how bluntly I worded that.) God has clearly placed in your heart a desire to rethink your original thoughts on children, and should He bless you with children someday, He will be faithful to equip you with the tools you need for effective parenting when you seek Him for wisdom on the journey.

      Be encouraged, Amanda! I am glad you are thinking these things through that you mentioned. Keep reading here: Kelly’s got lots of great parenting tips on her blog. (The comment sections are good to read, too.) And you can also ask parents of well-behaved children you have met to share their tips with you.

      Parenting is hard work, but the joys and blessings that come through it are indescribable! God bless you, Amanda.

  9. Cheri says:

    As a mom to a “labeled” child, I can speak from both sides. I fought for years within myself and spent a lot of time on my knees, trying to prevent the label from being placed upon my son. Fearful (selfishly I’ll admit) of public places and for the watchful eye to look beyond the behavior that my child was displaying into my eyes so they would somehow see, he isn’t just spoiled or “non disciplined”. Children with “labels” are every bit as much of a blessing maybe more so in some cases. Their struggles daily are so much sweeter when they become accomplishments. Things that some have the luxury of taking for granted are clearly displayed in a true behavior challenged child. Before I was blessed with the gift of my son, I was one of those onlookers, with all kinds of opinions I might admit. Now, I am just a mom, who will continue to plow the field with and for my son. I will forever look the mom or dad in the eye in those moments and share a nod of “hang in there, I know your struggles”. Because sometimes things really aren’t what they seem.

  10. Cheri says:

    Btw- great post Kelly!

  11. 6 arrows says:

    Good thoughts to ponder. I was really struck by the truth of your statement about helping our children “discover the safety of authority and the necessity of self control.” It reminded me of a diagram I had seen many years ago in Tedd Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, showing one child inside a circle (representing safety through honor and obedience to parents) and another child outside of the circle, whose choices to dishonor and disobey removed him from safety to danger. The point being for the parents to rescue the child (from his stubborn independence to authority) by lovingly correcting and restoring him to the circle of protection. And of course to train him to obey and use self-control in the first place to keep the child from repeatedly stepping outside that circle.

    I also want to say that I thought your last bullet point was spot-on! There are so many nuggets of truth just in that one paragraph, and so much I could say in response! I’ll just leave it at this: THANK YOU for taking this post beyond training children, and discussing the implications for their lives as future adults. Our work (or failure to work) in training our children WILL bear fruit someday. We all need a vision for the future. Thank you, Kelly, for thinking biblically and sharing your thoughts. Very inspiring!

    • Marie-Louise says:

      Tedd Tripp’s book ‘Shepherding a Child’s Heart’ is translated in Dutch now and I just started reading it. I want to recommend it to you all. This also goes for ‘Pursuit of Godly Seed’ by Denny Kenaston.
      (www.homefirespub.com)
      I’m so glad that one is translated in Dutch too. There’s a Dutch family who gives the book away for free, you only pay shipping costs. I already was able to give away over 60 of them… That’s over 60 families! I pray God will bless the book to these parents and their seed!

      • Marie-Louise says:

        About giving away: that’s the Dutch translation here in The Netherlands. I don’t know the costs of the original version, but be sure it will be worth it!

  12. This part is what really got me, “Don’t flippantly tell a little one to do something that you aren’t prepared to see accomplished. If you don’t really care if they pick up the toy, don’t ask them to.”

  13. Leigh says:

    Great thoughts, Kelly! Thanks for doing what God has called you to do, in raising your children, running your home and writing for the edification of the body of believers. You have a precious ministry. I am going to add you to my sites list of links as a resource to parents.

  14. Laura says:

    Hello Kelly,
    I appreciate your article on child-training as well. Specifically, I can relate to the anger aspect. There are days recently when I felt all I did was yip and nip and yell at my four boys. Just the other day, however, as I finally took some time to reflect on why I was losing the temper battle, something occurred to me. As a mother of one or two children, you can sort of save some of yourself to keep for only yourself. As you family grows, more and more, you have to give up yourself for the sake of them, and it is a huge sacrifice! I think over the last 3 or so years, since we officially crossed over the line to a ‘big’ family, the amount of sacrifice has risen and with it, my resentment. Without really realizing it, I had begun to feel bitter over the amount of time and energy raising these children demanded. I think what made me so frustrated was the fact that there wasn’t a choice. Once the children are there, they demand, that’s the nature of having them. And in the busy-ness of life, if time is not spent in purposefully acknowledging this sacrifice and giving it willingly, it is a sacrifice that is pulled from us regardless. So, I think my anger and discontent with the state of my household in general was more of a “I resent how much of my time you take!” and would take this out on them by my lack of patience, sometimes spanking out of anger, yelling and being harsh to them. I often wonder if all the stuff about women–work or stay home, homeschool or not, large family, small family, are actually symptoms of our unwillingness to sacrifice ourselves, even though we call ourselves Christians and are supposed to “lay down our lives”. Deflecting this character flaw in our lives makes it easier to live with ourselves.
    According to pop culture, it’s the lack of ‘me-time’ or our ‘rushed schedule’ or any number of things that cause our unhappiness, not our own selfish or sinful attitudes.
    In this season of Christ’s birth, a parallel of Mary came to me. God didn’t ask her permission to use her. In all our society of choice, it came to me that God didn’t send the angel to her to see if it was okay if or if she was willing to be the mother of God. The nature of how God used Mary was all-encompassing. He required her body, her heart, her emotions, her mind, everything, and he did so without her permission! He mercifully informed her of His plans, but expected her to adjust accordingly, not the other way around! Yet we call Mary “blessed among women”. Are we willing to approach God that way? Can He use us without our permission? Will we adjust to Him or pout that He and our circumstances aren’t adjusting to us? Let’s just say that it was a huge eye opener to me about how I was behaving. By God’s grace, I will be able to maintain better self-control in how I raise my boys. The same morning, my baby, who is around 18 months old came toddling in with a cut-out milk jug on his head for a hat. He looked at me with his precious baby-face, peeking out from under the milk jug, knowing that he was loved just did me in. If there was any reserve in me before about giving myself to God as a mother, it vanished. Even though days are hard at times, the sacrifice is worth it. My deep love for these beautiful children rushed over me and through me and I recognised anew how precious they are, and worth all my best effort–even if I never get to have time for this or that of my own plans! Thank you, Kelly, for your post!

    • Word Warrior says:

      Laura,

      “In all our society of choice, it came to me that God didn’t send the angel to her to see if it was okay if or if she was willing to be the mother of God. The nature of how God used Mary was all-encompassing. He required her body, her heart, her emotions, her mind, everything, and he did so without her permission!”…wow…wise, wise thoughts and words and so very true!

    • Kelly L says:

      Laura,
      That was so beautifully put about Mary. I had never thought about it in that view. I always loved her words after (and love the song made from them) about yielding to God, but never gave thought to the fact it was done without her initial consent. So awesome!!!!!

    • Kristen says:

      There is a lot of truth in what you said. I appreciate it. I think, though, for me (and I have 5 adopted kids) what has been so difficult and exhausting in raising these kids is how different they are from me, and I’m not sure if being adopted and the fact that they are all hispanic and I am of stoic German descent has anything to do with it. But, I was a good kid growing up. I can count on one hand the spankings I got. I had a very healthy respect for authority. I hated getting in trouble. My parents never yelled at me because they didn’t have to. I cried when they just reprimanded me quietly. This was just my temperment. My 5 kids are loud, have no respect for personal space, challenge me at every turn and are just strong willed. This is where my parenting challenges come in because I don’t get them. I can’t understand why they can’t take “no” for an answer, even though I know I’ve never given in to begging. I’ll start out with a calm, rational “no, end of discussion”, but then they follow me, begging, arguing, etc. until finally I’m yelling at them, “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” I’m more than willing to sacrifice myself for my children and family, but every day I just feel like I’ve been chewed up and spit out. It’s a battle of wills, me against 5 and I’m exhausted.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Kristin,

        You don’t way how old your children were when they join your family, but I understand your pain. Two of my children are adopted and one has a history of trauma from multiple moves. These children have brains that a just wired differently because of the cortisol floods which happened when their brains are in trauma. The tricky thing is that they cannot be parented as children who are born to us. They are just different, no matter how much we love them or how consistent we are or how much we do the ‘right’ things which work for non-traumatized children. My son is making huge strides, but it has been a very steep uphill climb to reach the place where we are. I highly recommend the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis. She wrote The Connected Child, is a Christian and writes from that viewpoint, and also speaks at the Empowered to Connect conferences. She is a strong believer that these children can be healed, but they require different parenting techniques than what normally works.

        It sounds as though you are exhausted and even though you are trying to do things right, it doesn’t seem to help. I know how that feels; I’ve been there myself. It can get better! I have had to rethink how I parent and in doing so I have seen God do a mighty work of healing in my son. Hang in there!

        • Tonya says:

          I am also an adoptive mother and while I realize that some children of early trauma do need special parenting (i.e. different from the way we parent bio kids) I just want to note, in case anyone out there is wondering, that some will respond very well to a more traditional approach. Just do it with much prayer and waiting on God to lead you. Don’t assume traditional parenting will fix the problems but definitely be willing to forgo “expert advice” you get when you adopt.

          Because…..

          Our daughter, adopted from a baby house in Ukraine at 22 months, has thrived in every way in the type of environment Kelly is talking about here. She was abandoned at birth as an HIV+ baby, put in a special ward for HIV babies, tested repeatedly until she tested negative at about a year old and moved at least one more time to the toddler ward where she lived with 14 or 15 other children and 12 caregivers who rotated in and out on 6 hour shifts. Not ideal. However, she has absolutely no attatchment issues, authority issues or any other issues other than a slight speech delay. When we brought her home, it was into a happy, loving, reasonably strict environment. We dealt with floor tantrums, being slapped in the face, being angry-screamed at, being bitten, etc. She was cuter than a bug and it was hard not to laugh at her sliding around the floor on her back screaming and then getting wedged under the table, but we tackled the behavior and in doing so, got to the root of the problem which was insecurity- in her case. Once she knew that we were totally and lovingly in charge of her formerly out of control life, she was secure. And at almost 7, she’s a darling angel – truly.

          Her two year old sister (our delightful surprise baby) is another story, however….so Kelly, I appreciate the kick in the pants:):):). I’ve been bitten by the “I’m 41 so this may be my last baby and she’s so darn cute” bug and I need to shake it off.;) I know better!

      • Sara says:

        I am in the exact same situation as you, and my kids AREN’T adopted!
        I was a good kid, introverted, never wanting any trouble and mostly wanting to please, but my kids are loud extroverts(emphasis on this one), smart and strong willed (a tricky combo), and constantly challenging/demanding of me.

        My husband and I were talking about it one day, I was so exhausted and at my wit’s end and I was fantasizing over the life of a child free nun (and I’m not Catholic), and he said, “but think of all the sin that would have gone un-revealed in our hearts (if not for our kids).”

    • Sarah D. says:

      Laura,
      I really appreciated your comments. I have two little boys, with another child on the way, and have felt so overwhelmed at times. Your comment about our response to our children being from selfish motives and not caused by the children is so right! I thought I was a pretty unselfish person, until I had children! 😉

      Also, thank you, Kelly, for this excellent article. So many good points!

  15. Keri says:

    Kristen,

    I just want to encourage you to “Keep at It”..and “Keep at it”..loving on those kids and being a mom.I don’t know how old your kids are but if there in any particular situation..just know you can share it here and you will get lots of ideas..I don’t know if this is an “issue” but I’m telling you..and it took me until I was 50 to get this..No anger..No yelling..and I mean NONE!!..I wish I had not done this so much when my children were smaller..and if you do it..stop..apologize and move on..Our Anger can frustrate and send our children straight to disobedience and rebellion..I know..because it happened in my good christian home..Anyway..I do understand the frustrations of feeling like this will never end..and being exhausted..so write us and let us encourage you my friend..

  16. Jasmine says:

    Thanks, Kelly. Another insightful post.

  17. Laura says:

    For Kristin,
    Even though I haven’t adopted children, my four are a handful as well. The days that I think are the best are the days that I actually get on the floor and spend time holding them, listening to them, hugging and being affectionate with them. This is what bonds and connects parents and children. Sometimes it can be easy for all we ever say is “no”(somedays I feel like that). But there have to be ways to say yes, too. It can be easy to make household care and the schedule the number one priority, and if it doesn’t get taken care of, nothing else happens. No fun activities, outings or anything. One thing i have learned as a very consistent ‘to do’ list person, the list will never end, it will never be caught up, sometimes the dishes have to sit and the dust bunnies collect, and we are going to read, play with playdough and make cookies. They are happier, I’m more able to see the people they are instead of the work all around me. Not easy, but forging relationships is necessary in a family, even above the schedule. Keep on, you can do it! God put them with you. He knows that they need you as their mother. Trust Him.

  18. 6 arrows says:

    This is also for Kristen: I hear your frustration with your current situation, especially with your concluding statement: “It’s a battle of wills, me against 5 and I’m exhausted.”

    How does your husband feel about the situation? (Not that you need to answer that for me 🙂 If you and your husband are on the same page child-training-wise, that’s great, and it means you’re not standing alone in your efforts to train your children. If you and your husband have differing beliefs on child training, then working toward a unified view on the subject will go a long way toward minimizing or eliminating the “me against 5” feeling you have regarding training your children.

    Are you able to call your husband at work when things are especially difficult at home? There have been a few times over the years that situations in my home have gotten so volatile that I needed to call my husband at work to have him defuse the situation by talking to the offending child over the phone. This is where you really need your husband as an ally! My husband and I were not always unified in our training philosophy, and it was during those years that we experienced more parent-parent and parent-child tension in our home. When my dh and I worked together to back each other up, and the kids knew it, things started going a lot more smoothly for all of us. (Not saying parental disunity is necessarily a contributing cause of your frustration and exhaustion, as it was mine.)

    Sorry for the long post, Kristen! I would just encourage you to have a good heart-to-heart with your husband, where you might discuss new strategies for dealing with the kids, and maybe even have a family meeting (depending on the ages of your kids) to discuss “the new order of things”, or whatever changes you plan to implement to establish obedience and peace in your home. God’s blessings to you!

  19. Mrs Hayley Ferguson says:

    Laura I appreciate your last sentance about Him knowing they need you as their mother. I type this as I lie here in bed feeling like a terrible mother because my 9 children are largely doing as they please aroung here at the moment and I know what the Bible says about that. I am about 12-13 weeks pregnant with no 10 and I’ve been vomiting and sick (not normal for me) since week 3…I’m so over being sick but I thank the Lord for trials to make me more Christlike. I have so many things I want to accomplish with the children (not the least of which is finishing off the schedule and bringing routine and order back into the house.) I know all these child training techniques and I know they work. For the moment the Lord is teaching me patience. I could never be a schedule slave trust me it’s not in my character but some routine is invaluable. I know some Christian material that implies that a timed scheduled routine is the only Godly way to raise a family (including timed baby play time etc) but I don’t think the strict 15 minute slots of time with buzzers couldn’t have worked particularly well before the introduction of clocks, just my thoughts.

    I was initially labled with Autism, then ADD, then Aspergers and I struggled a lot at school (I failed my way through) and yes I was and still am strong willed. Sometimes that has helped me run the race (Christianity) and continue to leave my fertility in His hands (not always easy.) Yes at times I wondered if the lables were made up/an excuse and sometimes I think they may be a hinderence to some. I recently read a book by Dr Andrew Wakefield and I believe that yes I did react to a vaccine as an infant (my mother told me I screamed all day long (not normal for me) and I do have gut issues. Sometimes these children have degenerative disease that needs attention. They can be in pain and that definately affects their behaviour. Sometimes people will tell me if I tell them about the ADD that I don’t have it. I believe what may have happened is that when I was 18 I had viral meningitis (sp?) and glandular fever together with a very high temp/fever. That is believed to sometimes reverse some of the symptoms. Now I can socialise normally, organise myself better, read prolifically (not so much now with 9) and concerntrate better; so maybe the fever reversed many of the symptoms to where now I appear normal. I would always be asking my mother what was wrong with me and why wasn’t I able to do school or make friends. She would (with a diagnosis of ADD tell me she didn’t know why and that I was an intelligent girl and had a high IQ. I never realised why I often visited the ENT specialist and behaviour therepy (and psychs etc) and why I had electrodes hanging off my head to read my brainwaves, why was it neccessary? Mum didn’t tell me untill I was 16 that they thought maybe I had ADD because she didn’t want me on drugs. I then went on drugs but I don’t think they made that much difference and I stopped them when I met my husband at 18. Sometimes I’m grateful I failed school so I didn’t really persue a career outside the home (I probably wouldn’t have my 9 nearly 10 children who have eternal souls and value above careers and money. I’m not a big fan of drugs and I believe diet and herbs can make a better impact. Today, I still struggle with the effects of being at school and being programmed that I was stupid, I still feel stupid alot (my husband is a scientist and I often feel stupid around him. Sorry for the rambling, but thanks for “listening” it’s been good “therepy” 😉

    Now, children should still be corrected for bad behavior, disobedience is sin and without the rod foolishness remains in that childs heart. I have so many times not corrected when I should because of fear of my parents dobbing me into authorities for child abuse (my mother would never use an implement.) I made bad decisions out of fear. The Bible says He will not accept the fearfull and unbelieving, doesn’t it? I too had no idea when I first had children. I read a book on child training when my third was 6 months old. God knows were not perfect yet he still tells children to obey their parents. Most of all we always need to work on pride in ourself. I know I don’t like the company of boastful people and neither do our children. I believe youth can smell fakery and hypocrisy a mile off and will get away as soon as they are able. Ultimately, God helps us to fill in the blanks where we lack the character, if we will be humble. Sorry this has been so long. I really appreciated the post Kelly, thank you.

    • 6 arrows says:

      Hayley,

      You are not a terrible mother. There are seasons of life when it’s more difficult to function at a high level. Pregnancy is definitely one of those seasons, especially when you’ve been physically sick on top of it. I threw up in my first four pregnancies, and it always took me several weeks after the morning sickness was done to begin to transition back to a fairly normal routine. Give yourself permission to take it easy for a while, Hayley. You’re nurturing a little one yet unseen, and that is important work!

  20. Mrs Hayley Ferguson says:

    Thankyou for the encouragement 6 arrows I needed that. I think sometimes my husband thinks there are these absolute supermums out there raising large families whose houses run efficiently no matter the circumstance. I love my husband dearly. Sometimes he just needs to be reminded of my limitations to have patience and compassion.

  21. Kristen says:

    I just wanted to respond here. I’ve read the responses sent my way and I appreciate the encouragement and support. Just to answer a few questions, my children were adopted at a very young age, and had very limited exposure to the foster care system. My oldest daughter we received at 2 days old. My husband is on the same page as I am regarding child-rearing and is a big help. He is just of the same temperment as I – we’re “pleasers” and our children aren’t. I mean, they want to please us, but… well, I’m sure you all know what I mean. I’m sure their “pasts” contribute to how they are, but honestly, I think a lot of my problems are due to my own temperment and theirs.

  22. Valerie says:

    Wow, great thought-provoking post. The point that authority is established EARLY is so crucial. (I didn’t read through all the comments; I know there are exceptions like adoption and the like, but for the most part…)

    I used to think there were 2 kinds of parents in the world:
    Christian and secular.

    Then I saw differences in homeschooled versus public-school families.

    Then I thought the 2 kinds were obedience required vs. the grace crowd. (I know wise families practice both.)

    Now I realize that while there is truth in all of these differences and observations, the huge difference among all these groups is this:

    The parents that establish authority (regardless of parenting method) before/during toddlerhood and those who do not.

    This truth changed our lives, made our younger children much more secure with loving boundaries, and eliminated so many power struggles.

    I am so thankful for all you wise mothers who continue to teach me online. Your time is not wasted! We young mothers need you all!

  23. 6 arrows says:

    Thank you again, Kelly, for J.R. Miller’s quote and your thoughts expounding on it. I am very moved by the comments your post has generated. The Lord has laid it on my heart to pray specifically for the ladies who have shared their stories here. I also feel moved to offer a general prayer on behalf of everyone reading this, whether you have commented or not.

    Dear Lord,
    I thank and praise you for the awesome privilege of parenthood that you bestow on us mere mortals. You love your children with a love far deeper than any human can fathom, yet you bless us with the gift of your children to raise for your glory. I ask you, Lord, for your boundless wisdom and tender mercies as we raise our current and future children to know you, love you, and serve you as our precious Lord and Savior. Help us to not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

    Thank you for the gift of your Word, and for your promises to supply our every need, to feed your flock like a shepherd: “He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

    I ask you, Lord, to continue to be with the moms who are leading their young. Bless all current and future moms with hope and peace. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

    In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

    • adminnv says:

      Thank you, 6 arrows! That is a precious prayer. I needed it too…just for the record, *writing* about child training doesn’t mean the writer doesn’t struggle all the same 😉 I would covet your prayers for a particular child in our family and wisdom in parenting said child.

      • Keri says:

        Sometimes the Lord allows us to see something in a child that drives us crazy because we struggle with that.My husband was able to point this out to me..lol..the man just has to much insight..really lol.One other thing that I wanted to share was sometimes first time obedience can literally save our children’s lives.Many years ago as one of my little ones..(I think he was about 6)was out with me and as we came out of a store,he was skipping away with me and somehow went around the opposite side of me and never saw the car coming down the parking lot at about 50 mph.I saw it coming and there was Nothing I could do to get to him and somewhere in my yelling to him..I yelled..Austin!! Stop now!!..Praise God he did because the car missed him by about a foot..if he had not stopped.I actually role played with them when they were younger and of coures the three younger kids below him have grown up listening to this story.Not to say that Everytime have my kids all had first time obedience but in this case..it literally saved his life.He is about to turn 23..just thought I would share that. Have a Blessed Weekend!!

      • 6 arrows says:

        You’ve got my prayers, Kelly 😉

  24. Hi Kelly! This is a great post, and I agree with your bullet points, especially. What gave me pause was the story about the 2-year-old and her parents. Now, maybe I just don’t know this family and so I’m missing some important piece of the back-story that you were thinking of when you wrote this. But, isn’t it true that there are “stages” children go through? I’m not saying we should just sit back and give up on training during those stages (personally, I think they are the most important–if draining–times to be hands-on). But I distinctly remember a time when, for example, my daughter (1.5 at the time) would NOT hold my hand. She pitched a temper tantrum an fell on the ground when I demanded that she do so. We spent a lot of time getting to a parking lot just to turn around and go straight home again, errand undone until I could break her of the habit. But, I certainly explained to people who raised eyebrows that, “We’re getting through it. It’s a phase.” Now, maybe this isn’t quite the same thing that your friends meant with their daughter, but as a young mom, I would love some perspective. Am I doing something wrong because my children have both gone through toddler phases when they have been very fussy and vocal in public, even if I don’t give in to their demands?

    Thank you for your thoughts,
    Bethany

    • Word Warrior says:

      Bethany,

      I think some of both is true. Since I knew the couple and had observed both the child’s behavior and theirs, there was an obvious connection between the two and I’m not sure her tantrums could be chalked up as “a stage”. By the same token, yes, I’ve had some we’ve had to work through “stages”. The important thing I think is for parents to not dismiss is merely because of a “stage”. It’s kind of like sibling rivalry. It exists without a doubt. In the regard that it happens, it is “normal”. But it’s also sinful, so as parents, we don’t just hope it will pass and tolerate it for it’s stage. We address it, call it what it is, and replace the “normal” rivalry with the tying of fellowship. So with our little ones, while a tantrum or stage may appear normal, we can’t be content to look away. Close attention, consistent training and some patience should shorten the stage greatly 😉 Excellent question.

  25. […] Training Children: Life Work @ Generation Cedar says "What we want to do with our children is not merely to control them and keep them in order, but to implant true principles deep in their hearts which shall rule their whole lives; to shape their character from within into Christlike beauty, and to make of them noble men and women, strong for battle and for duty." Wow! What a responsibility! […]

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