Monday, May 18, 2009

How Do You Train Up a Child?

Today, A High and Noble Calling is asking the question, "What Kind of Home do You Have?" Is it child centered or is it God Centered?

Her post got me to thinking... thinking about something I am quite passionate about.

How do you train up a child in the way he should go?

Proverbs 22:6 tells us as parents "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

For me the most important part of training my children is to teach them a personal faith in and relationship with God.

But how do you do that? It's easy to say it. It's not so easy to live it on a day-to-day basis.

Ever since I can remember I have loved working and teaching children. I started teaching younger children when I was in Junior High School (yes, I'm that old - it wasn't "Middle School" then). That continued in various forms until in adulthood God called me to quit a full-time job and go back to college for an Elementary Education degree. I taught public school for several years until God hit me upside the head with the realization that taking care of my family and home were far more important. I needed to focus my time and energy at home.

Through the years God developed in me a deep passion for teaching children -- especially my own -- about God and discipling them toward a personal faith in and relationship with God.

So, how do you do that? Day-to-day parenting looks a bit different for every family. Every parent has different strengths and every child has different needs. So our methods must sometimes be different as well. However, there are still some basic principles and even routines which can work for everyone.

When my first child was not yet a year old, a friend asked me "Do you always sing to him before he goes to sleep?" We were in the church nursery - she was feeding her infant, I was putting mine down for a nap.

I told her, yes. I do. I explained that eventually I would want to pray and read with my son before bedtime. I knew that teaching those higher skills was extremely important. But I needed to begin by laying a foundation. Establishing that quiet time before bed - at just a few months old - was the beginning of that foundation.

So yes, from the time my children were a few months old and their sleep patterns began to stabilize, we rocked them and sang to them before we laid them down for a nap or to sleep at night. I didn't rock them all the way to sleep, but I did rock and sing for 5-10 minutes. I wanted them to know that it was time to settle down. It wasn't play time anymore.

We chose the songs we sang carefully. There were the standard lullabies like Rock-a-bye Baby and Hush Little Baby. But there were also songs of faith. Jesus Loves Me, Amazing Grace and In the Garden quickly became family standards. And now, 7 years later, my children still request these songs before bed each night.

It brings them security and comfort to know that whatever else may be going on in their world, we still love them and more importantly, God still loves them.

Singing lullabies of faith was one of our first ways of teaching our children our faith.

What were your first practices in teaching your children to have faith in God?


Stephanie said...

Such a great idea! I have always tried to keep my home full of things that reflect God, books, music, wall art etc. Also we try to have regular prayer time together, and I am beginning to see fruits when my 7 year old says mature prayers of intercession for others!

It Feels Like Chaos said...

This is such a great topic to discuss. I love hearing how to share faith with kids! Something I do as a part of our every day life is to thank God outloud for wonderful things we encounter in our day, like I will say to my kids, "It is such a beautiful day! Thank you God for giving us this beautiful weather!" Or, "How fun it was to play with friends. Thank you God, for friends!" I pray this helps my children have thankful hearts and learn to see God in their everyday lives.

UnfinishedMom said...

Chaos - what a good idea. I should do more of that. I especially need to remember this when I am feeling that y kids aren't thankful. I need to remember that they learn that from me. The more thankful I am, the more thankful they will be.


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