Training Your Children

Proverbs  20:11 says “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” This is a scripture that we have used with our children in training them to be people of integrity and to be productive.  We have always tried to tie in the Word of God and the end goal with the instructions we were giving to the kids.
In telling them that their actions told people about themselves, we wanted them to think about what they wanted someone to know about them and then act accordingly. The scripture in Proverbs backed that up and helped them to understand that we were speaking to them not for our own gain, but for their benefit.  Of course, well behaved children are certainly a benefit to parents!
This was made very real to the kids this past week.  It is not uncommon for us to get compliments on our children’s behavior whenever we go out or travel.  However, this past week it was really over the top.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we bought several greenhouses and other equipment and this past week had to take it all apart and haul it home.  I was so grateful to my kids and how hard they worked.  I cannot count the times the other men out there would tell us what great kids we had.  For these crusty old fellows, it bordered on gushing.  One man asked Tony several times what we did to get kids like ours.  How do you sum up eighteen years of hard work in a sentence or two?  We passed all the compliments on to the kids- “even a child is known by his actions…”
Each child comes with his or her own special gifting; I am convinced of this fact.  Another fact I am convinced of is that this gift is the child’s place to shine and succeed or – not submitted to God- is the place for the biggest failure.  As I seek to train a child in the way he should go, I am not looking to have them go my way, but the way their gifts point them.  One of the cool things about the Bible is that there is a scripture for every subject that we may encounter in life.
Savannah is my second child and she came equipped with a very high intellect, wicked if not a bit warped sense of humor, and a strong desire for action.  Couple these things with her love of the ocean and animals and she is headed to be a marine mammal behaviorist.  Without any spiritual training, those personality traits add up to a kid who loved to stir up trouble and aggravate her siblings.  To Savannah, peace in the home was boring- I know because she told me so herself as if I had not already picked up on that fact.  So her personal scripture was Psalm 34:14 “Depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”  Every time she was getting into trouble because of her unique gifts, I would have her go to the refrigerator where her verse was posted and read it aloud.  Then, it was not a battle of our wills as to how she was to act; it was between her and God.  I was just the messenger.
Savannah was not the only one with personal scriptures.  Cheyenne is a natural born leader a huge gift in her life- the flip side of that coin is that she can be BOSSY.  So, she would have scriptures pertaining to using her words carefully.  Sierra is intensely driven- the flip side to that is she can drive you intensely insane.  Jonathan on the other hand is very laid back, certainly a good thing to be when you are the fourth child with three strong-willed females ahead of you.  However, that easy going disposition makes him inclined to be lazy.  So we focus on showing him truth about hard work and what it is to be a man.
Never do I look at my kids personalities or gifts as something to be changed or done away with, I look at them as simply needing to be trained in the things of God.  I do not know what each of them is called to do, that is between them and their heavenly father.  He sent these children to me prewired with the gifts they would need to accomplish his purpose for them, how dare I try to rewrite their story to fit my desire or crush that which I do not like.   My job is to create and environment in which they can hear Him and to train them to discipline themselves so that their gifts do not destroy them.
The best tool for doing this is the Word of God.  Imagine that.  It is really the simplest way.  With a good concordance you can look up any word and find multiple scriptures dealing with it.  Once I found a scripture that fit what we were dealing with, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I typed it up on the computer or wrote it on index cards.  Then these scriptures were put on the fridge and the bathroom mirrors.  According to their behavior, sometimes these verses were read aloud a lot, but most of the time they would read them as they brushed their teeth in the morning and at night.  I did not require them to memorize and repeat them to me, but they did memorize them.
Jonathan working hard in the garden
Just the other night, we were all laughing and talking.  Something was said that I can’t even remember now, but Savannah said “I remember my verse” and she quoted it.  Then she said that she could remember another one but not its address – scripture reference.  Then Cheyenne spouted off, I can “Jeremiah 29:11 I know the plans I have for you says the Lord….” and said the whole verse.  I can’t tell you how happy I was!  If you have ever dealt with children, you know what I mean.  You feel like you repeat yourself constantly and wonder if any of the good stuff is sticking.  Well, it is sticking.  You just have to wait a few years to see it.
Sierra and Cinnamon
Savannah & Misty     Cheyenne & Aurora

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