Yesterday I finished talking about the goal we are aiming towards. To some this does not sound like a pre-school topic, so why am I worrying about all of this at this point in their lives? Because the pre-school years are the foundation of your children's lives.
My husband builds houses, so if you doubt the importance of a good foundation, feel free to ask him about it. Before you start building, you very VERY carefully build a solid foundation. For your pre-schoolers, the foundation is being laid. Right now. Either a good one or a bad one.
Many, many parents end up with a pile of regrets as their children get older and they realize the foundation they've laid is faulty. Don't despair! God is gracious to us all daily and there is always hope. Instead of trying to continue to build on the shaky foundation, look at what the best way would be to tear it down and start again, no matter what age they are at. It will be MUCH harder, but it can be done!
For those of you who still have young ones, take advantage of this opportunity to build a solid foundation for their young lives to build on.
If the end goal is to have children who love the Lord and love those around them with all they have, then what is the first step?
We believe it is obedience.
Over and over in scripture it is commanded to children to obey their parents. It's not a "good idea". It is essential for raising children who will one day obey the Lord.
We all wonder when the "right time" to start training in obedience is. We would say, as soon as possible. Our mainstream experts say to wait until children are two years old and can understand what they are being taught. My question is, do these experts have children? Esther just turned one year old and it is abundantly clear that she has been able to understand many things for a long time!
If you wait until your child is two years old to start training in obedience, you have trained your child for two years that they do NOT have to obey! You've already started an unstable foundation that has to be torn down and started again.
We start training our children in obedience around five or six months old. Now I need to clarify for a moment what I mean by "train".
When I was first parenting, to me training and disciplining meant the same thing. It didn't feel right to be disciplining my sweet little girl for naughty things she did when she didn't know any better. But at the same time I knew she needed to learn to do what was right. Learning the difference between training and disciplining changed everything.
I train my children to do or not do things that they do not know. I discipline my children when they do or do not do things that they do know.
Training for our girls almost always starts at the dinner table. In our home Daddy holds the babies during meal time to give Mommy a break. Around five or six (sometimes seven or eight) months old, Baby starts getting interested in the plate or bowl sitting right in front of them. Now we have a choice. Push the plate away, or start training. We choose to start training.
Instead of pushing the dinner plate away, we take the hand off of the plate and tell them "No.". When they continue to grab at it we continue to tell them "No.", followed by a little flick to the hand. It doesn't take long (if we are consistent!) before even a little baby understands that when Daddy and Mommy say no, they mean it.
In our house, crawling babies are not allowed in the kitchen. It is dirty and dangerous. When Esther first learned to crawl, we had to go through a training process for her to learn that she was not allowed in there. Now she knows. Now when she chooses to crawl in, she is disciplined. There is not a shadow of a doubt that she understands what she is expected to do. She has a very stubborn nature so of course she is going to test at any given moment. I must respond correctly to these tests so that she continues to believe that obedience is not optional!
(I have to add, all children are different. Lydia and Bethany trained quite easily. Havilah was the most stubborn and strong-willed little girl I have ever seen. Some days I truly wanted throw in the towel and declare defeat. But it worked. Slowly, slowly she learned to be obedient. Today she is an absolute delight. Ella had such an easy going personality that in some areas we were a little lax in her training. Now we are playing catch up for not being as careful in her earlier years. I call Esther "Havi 2" because she reminds us soooo much of Havilah! We are bracing for a long ride, knowing that in the end it will bear much fruit! Every child is different, but every child must learn to obey!)
I could go on and on and on about child training but for now I will simply say, be wise about who you listen to. Seek advice! Seek wisdom! But choose it carefully.
When I was a young mom, one of the people who thought they had the best advice for me strongly disliked being a mom. Her child was a terror. Yet she thought she had all of the answers for me. Be careful who you listen to, but always be ready to listen too. As parents we always have areas we need to grow in and we must remain humble and ready to listen to advice. But always, always take the given advice back to scripture and see if it lines up with God's heart.
I recommend Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. Also Large Family Logistics has some great portions on raising children.