It's been said that children didn't come with a guide book. WRONG! Guess what? They did!
First, I think it's important to realize that children are not inconveniences. Lately I've been reading about restaurants and grocery stores who want to ban children, or have special hours where children aren't allowed. I honestly cannot believe that we've reached this point. Since when did children become such a nuisance?
Psalms 127:3-5 "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
Second, when you see a kid who is "out of control" or "extra rowdy" or "never listens" you can most likely trace the cause back to the parents.
Yep. I said it. The parents.
Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
Proverbs 29:17 "Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul."
See the guideline? Train. Teach. Correct.
So now the question is how do we train, teach, and correct them? Every child is different, every family is different, but the basic principle is the same. As parents we should be striving to train, teach, and correct our children so they know how to act. Nobody enjoys a child that is out of control, nobody enjoys being around an adult that is out of control.
If we continue to use the Bible as a guide (as we should) we can also find what we are suppose to be training and teaching them and what areas correcting needs to be in.
Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
What about when the kids fight?
So Kid 1 comes in and says that Kid 2 hit her. (Sound familiar? It is in my house)
I make sure Kid 1 wasn't do anything to provoke Kid 2 and if they are innocent, I turn my attention to Kid 2. In our house, hands are for loving- not hitting- so I remind them of this. I like to back up "my way" with "God's way", too.
Matthew 7:12 "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
It's the Golden Rule and makes perfect sense! Nobody likes to be hit and usually this verse does the convicting.
What about when there is bickering, fighting, or discontent among siblings?
We all have been there... so what's there to do?
Turn to the Bible!
John 13:13 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."
Jesus' own words. Love one another! Are we demonstrating love by hitting? Are we showing our love for others by making someone cry because we don't want to play with them?
What about how to act?
Colossians 3:23 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" Do everything to God!
Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Watch your words! Grace is undeserved so this verse is perfect in a situation where someone said/did something meanly. It tells us that regardless of the situation, it is our instruction to respond gracefully.
Ephesians 6:1 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." Children don't have to like or agree with the parent, they are simply to obey them. End of story.
What do I do
I try to default everything back to God. How does God want us to act? To handle a situation? Are our actions making Him happy or sad?
We do spank, though not all the time. I never want my first reaction to be a spank or thump or pop. I want to think clearly about what I'm doing. I realize there are anti-spanking parents out there- and that's fine. But for us, spanking is something that we are okay with. As long as it is controlled.
We do a lot of time outs and discussions. Sometimes the kids just need to be talked to- let the Bible convict their heart. There are times though when a little quiet reflection is needed. It hurts a child when they have to sit in time out while everyone else is having fun. It's imperative to make sure they understand why they are in time out.
Eye contact. I have some children who I know hear me regardless. I have other children who need to look me in the eye (and maintain it) for me to know they "got it".
Counting. We do count to three, but something else that I do is count backwards from 5 (or sometimes 3, depends on my mood). When I start going 5, 4, 3... things change. This works when things are CrAzY!!! Maybe they are all talking excitedly and I need to maintain control. This is when I do it! And it works!!! I've seen my children go from crazy loud to silent in just 5 seconds (and it impresses others too!)
Pray a LOT! Parenting is tough and prayer is the only thing that gets you through it! Realize you aren't perfect (nobody is). Stay consistent- and calm. Figure out what works for you and your kids. Rome wasn't built in a day and your kids won't listen to you overnight!
I've been training, teaching, and correcting my children for 3-8 years! Consistently. Daily. And they are no where near finished! Each year brings new challenges. My 8 year old has added moodiness, eye rolling, and huffs-n-puffs to the list of areas to "train, teach, and correct" and from what I can tell about teenagers- well... yeah, I'm no where near done! But that's ok, it's my job!
Maybe if parents took a stand and an active role in their child's life by training, teaching, and correcting, we wouldn't have others wanting to have "childfree stores".
Listen up! It's time that you teach your child not to run around crazy-like in the store, scream uncontrollably when you tell them no, break things that aren't there's (or yours for that matter) to break, be rude and disrespectful, and distract others in church because you let them do whatever.
Ok, off my soapbox!
**Disclaimer, I am not referring to any particular parent/child, but if you think any of this may apply to you then so be it!**