For our next study in The Ministry of Motherhood, we talked The Gift of Training. Spiritual training, that is. How to give this gift to our children.
How many baths will we give our kids before they learn to do it on his own? And even more importantly, how old will they be before they do it without being told? For that one example, there are hundreds more. People-raising is hard.
And there are so many areas to guide. We shape:
- emotional health
- physical fitness
- how to use words appropriately
- spiritual core
- developmental skills
- moral compass
- and so much more
It can be tough to keep it all in balance without going crazy in one area.
Our first story was about Jesus and his disciples. We have a model in training from him. He chose disciples to walk closely with him. Of course, the root word of discipline is disciple. Our ultimate goal in discipline should be to mold our children in values and character. Most of the time, Jesus’ disciples didn’t get it. You would think 1 miracle would be enough. But they continued to be clueless much of the time. How comforting. Do you think if we turned broccoli into macaroni, our kids would get it? Doubtful.
The author points out that after Jesus died, they go it. How comforting?
The key element in training is patience and repetition. We start over every day; sometimes every hour. We compared notes on phrases we say everyday. I say “give your sister some space,” “don’t interrupt,” and “be gentle” 5 million times a day.
Our second focus was on teaching our kids to think. My church did not teach me to think spiritually. It taught me what to do/not to do but it did not teach me to think and certainly not to question. Thankfully, my parents and a secular college did. At some point, our kids will ask the big questions and gray area questions. And we may not have the answers. But if we’ve taught the basics: God is good, he is truth, he is all-powerful, he is love, then they will find their way. We talked about many examples of moral or spiritual issues that we don’t have clear answers for? Our world is getting more complicated. Some ethical questions are really iffy. God can encompass all questions. And God is bigger than theology.
We talked about the instruction to take captive every thought. We brainstormed ideas for training kids to do this. Do you have any ideas?
Thirdly, we looked at teaching kids about prayer. Often I get in a “why bother” place about prayer. God already knows the problems and his will will be done. we discussed helping them memorize the Lord’s prayer. Make it a practice. Set a phone alarm. Help them understand that prayer is communication. About relationship. Not about a giant santa or amazon wishlist in the sky.
And we can be personal examples of praying aloud with or in front of our kids.
Finally, we talked about training our kids to face tribulation. Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble” and it is often because of their faith and choices that our kids will be persecuted. That is hard for a mama. How do we teach our kids to turn the other cheek. We read 1 peter 2:19-21.
Our gentle discipline tools for the week were choices and timers.
Kids need power. We can help them have power by giving choices. “Do you want to walk to the car or walk?” “Do you want to wear blue shoes or purple?” “Do you want to pick up your toys now or when we get back from checking the mailbox?” Sure, it doesn’t solve every problem. But it can help avoid some of the minor pitfalls during the day.
Timers: it is tough to argue with time. It is easy to argue with mom. Let your oven timer or cell phone alarm be the bad guy. At the playground, my conversation usually goes like this, “Norah, we need to wrap it up. I’m setting my cell phone to tell us it is time to go in 5 minutes.” She’s familiar with the alarm ring. When she hears the ring, “uh-oh, time to go” I announce. Usually, she complies without argument. Timers are objective and consistent.
I’m looking forward to our last study coming up tomorrow!