Saturday, May 28, 2016

Parenting Series (2): 11 key things you should teach your child

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Please note: This post is the second in a series on Godly parenting, here's the first.
What then do I teach my child? Must be the question going through your mind after reading the first post in this series where we looked at what Proverbs 22:6 meant by "train up a child in the way he should go..."; we also touched on how to train a child.

In this second post, we will attempt to answer, what values and behaviour do I instill in my child(ren) that are key to living out the life God has planned for them?
Here's 11 important things you should teach your child... Let's dive straight right in...

1. The Lesson of discipline
"I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man." - Proverbs 24:30-34.

"Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed." - Mark 1:35.

Children are often great at getting things done when they feel like it - they buzz around and excitedly do their homework, the dishes and all - they are wonderful at that! Problem is, when they don't feel like it, it's a battle to get them to do anything serious. And there lies the problem with many adults, too.

Some parents make the mistake of fanning such attitude, they try to tweak the kids' emotions to make them feel like doing the work, so they can get it done. Some even make promises to get them this or that to get work done.

But that's not discipline! That doesn't show commitment and dedication. Discipline entails doing the needful, as and when you should, whether you feel like it or not. It is one vitally important trait that separates the highly successful from the rest which children must learn.

Discipline breeds consistency. Hard work. Dedication. Commitment. Diligence. It is the key to forming good habits.

Children must learn to self regulate and self motivate themselves, when they can do that, they are set to face the world and fulfil purpose!

2. How to manage and maximise resources
"Then He said: A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want."

No one who wastes resources will amount to much in life! Emphatic and true. Time, opportunity, money, relationship and talent are the resources God has given us to create the life we desire; whether we are able to create it depends on how we manage and make the best of these valuable resources.

Time management, money management, relationship management, talent development and maximising opportunities are all vitally important skills to succeed, and you must train your children to develop these traits.

Those who fail to learn how to manage and maximise resources find themselves on the 'haves not' side of life; conversely, if you are able to manage and maximise resources, you'll live your dream!

3. The lesson of honesty (intergrity)
"The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them." - Proverbs 11:3.

"Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labour will increase."- Proverbs 13:11.

"Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight." - Proverbs 12:22.

The thing I have found with dishonesty is that a single lie cannot stand on its own, it needs a supporting cast of others lies to help it thrive and fly. It then takes wings and soars, until one truth exposes the deceit and scatters it all.

Lies pay no one in the long run. Honesty and integrity, on the other hand, will take you far in life; in business, it is even an asset.

The tricky thing with kids is they can find telling lies (what some call petty lies) fun and think it harmless, but as the parent you must drive home the point, through your words and your own practice, that lying and being dishonest is a no no!

4. The Lesson of humility
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." - James 4:6.

Pride goes before a fall, it is said, and that is very true. Pride is one of seven things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-17); pride was the sin of Lucifer which caused him to be "cut down to the ground..." (Isaiah 14:12-17).

What's pride? Pride thinks, 1. I'm more important than/superior to other people, 2. I achieved everything I have all by myself.

God does not only hate pride, He "resists" the proud; that's a very strong word! Ever pondered this text? To resist is to "prevent", to "fight back against someone or something". Imagine God Himself preventing or fighting back against you. What disaster! That's what the Scripture He does to the proud.

This needs to be impressed on the heart of your children - the lesson of humility. Pride leads to over confidence, which then leads to complacency. I want to believe you don't want that for your children.

5. Showing kindness (giving & forgiving)
"There is one who scatters yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself." - Proverbs 11:24-25.

An act of kindness has never killed anyone before, has it? Our world is terribly short on kindness and compassion; everywhere you turn, you see people who desperately need to be reached with some compassion - we're in dire need of real selfless love, the Christ kind.

Admittedly, kids largely have a tender heart and could have no issues with giving and forgiving (unlike grown-ups!); but beyond that tenderness, you need to drive home the message of kindness toward others, giving and compassion.

Here's my observation, I believe this is key: privileged kids tend to develop some form of arrogance-laced meanness (superiority complex) towards their not-so-fortunate mates, maybe because they'll always had everything. The not-so-privileged ones, on their part, could also develop resentment-fuelled harshness towards other people, owing to the deprivation they have endured. Either way, parents watch your kids!

6. How to lose and win gracefully
"...for a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity." - Proverbs 24:16

"...a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven." - John 3:27

Failure is not always fatal - please understand this! Most times, when we are caught in the web of problems, we allow feelings of depression and hopelessness creep in and feed us negative thoughts. But bear in mind that failure is not always fatal and that you can learn from the experience and bounce back better!

This is a lesson children should get; they should never define themselves by their failures, weaknesses or inadequacies, and not allow anyone tag them with negative labels owing to their failings or inadequacies. Because your child didn't excel at sports or in a particular subject in school doesn't mean he/she is a failure, it may mean that he/she probably hasn't found their place yet.

On the flip side, they should also learn to take in winning with grace. It's not very good to rub your victory in someone's face because you were contenders and you came up tops, or because someone didn't believe in you yet you went on to win. Good for you!

But instead of gloating about your victory, lift your hands up to God and glorify His name for grace to excel and ascribe all the glory to Him. Because indeed, "a man can receive nothing unless it is given to him from above". Teach your children this lesson.

7. Working hard/diligence
"He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich." - Proverbs 10:4.

We can't emphasize the place of hard work and diligence in accomplishing our God-birthed visions and dreams enough.

Success naturally gravitates towards the hardworking and diligent - almost like a magnetic pull. He will indeed stand before kings.

Whatever you do, make sure you do not raise a lazy child. Make them understand that hard work is key to living a fulfilled life. Explain the difference between working diligently and unnecessarily overworking yourself; one is calculated, measured and result focused, while the other is hotchpotch and activity driven.

8. Respecting others
"Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity."1 Timothy 5:1-2.

I believe every human deserves, at least, a modicum of respect; regardless of age, race, status, class and whatnot. You can hardly go wrong by showing some respect, can you?

Respect, for me, is simply not breaching certain invisible, but real, boundaries in your relationship with people. Which means that you disrespect someone when you breach such boundaries. Respect does not include cowering at someone's presence or striking terror into the hearts of people.

Children need to learn this. They need to know that in every relationship there are invisible yet real and strong boundaries which should not be breached at will; and when the boundaries are breached, they should humbly seek reconciliation with the offended party.

They should be taught to respect other people's time (very important!), money (also very important!), opinion (talk less and listen more), ideas (not necessarily implementing them, but don't bin the ideas), and all.

9. Lesson of independence (thinking for themselves)
"Come now, and let us REASON together," says the Lord...Isaiah 1:18.

If there's one message you should ensure your children get, it is that mommy and daddy will not always be there to solve all their problems. They need to understand that they can't keep running to you everytime they hit a snag in the road. And if you as the parent keep running to their rescue you are not doing them any favours.

God gave every human a brain with limitless capacity for a purpose and it is to enable us think and reason. Even God says, "Come now, and let us REASON together..."; to reason is to be able to think and make sound judgment. It means to be able to take initiative, and we all have that ability.

Please, get this message impressed on your children's mind. Failure to do so may prove unhealthy. You don't want children who grow up thinking you would always be there to solve their problems. You also may not want them to grasp this lesson later in life when they might have missed out on opportunities because they failed to think for themselves.

Of course, as parents you should help your kids out, it's what mommies and daddies do, right? But sometimes, deliberately make them face their problems head on and think independently to solve it. It'll make them problem solvers and solution givers, not the ones who always run around with problems to be solved later in life. Ultimately, they'll learn to rely on God, not you or on anyone else.

10. How to build friendship
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." - John 15:13.

We are social beings; created for relationship, not isolation! God deliberately made us to need each other - I need you, you need me. Making friends and building friendship, then, is key to fulfilling purpose and living out the abundant life as Christ presents us with.

Unlike what you may think, relationship and friendship are two different things; relationship can be built in a day, while friendship takes considerable time and effort.

You can be in a work-relationship (with colleagues and superiors at the office), or romantic relationship, or parent-child relationship, and yet not be "friends" with them. Friendship is about caring and sharing, intimacy and close bond, being there for each other, bearing each other's burdens, helping; it is more than simply knowing someone.

The key to building friendship is being selfless, placing the other person's interests and needs before yours - that's Christ way. This would drive you to care, listen, add value, give, love, and pray for them; in short, it would make you treat people how you would want to be treated, not the way others have treated you.

11. Fearing God
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil." - Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

"I returned and saw under the sun that - the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men f understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time; like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them." - Ecclesiastes 9:11-12.

"The fear of the Lord leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil." - Proverbs 19:23.

These Scriptures pretty much sum up the thoughts under this point - fear God and keep His commandments!

"Fear" here does not imply "to be terrified or afraid", rather it is about a deep respect for someone that makes you want to be like them. When the Bible says, "fear God", it is not exactly compelling you to do so, no! Instead, it is God placing before you the chance to come into a personal relationship with Him and live in obedience to His Word. Because essentially, that's what "fearing God" is about.

The best thing you can give to your child is lead them into knowing God for themselves - emphatic and true. It solves 99.9999% of the problem; the other 0.0001%? They'll take care of it themselves with God's help.
As I mentioned in the first post, I am not writing as a parenting or childcare expert, but as someone who wants to see parents become better at their primary duty! And I believe this inspired pieces will do parents and parents-in-waiting a world of good.

Now, it's your turn to share what you've learned about parenting. What are some things you think are important for children to learn?

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