Thursday, February 17, 2011

Paradigm #7: Who did God intended to run the home—the parents or the children?

This answer is easy on the surface. Of course, parents are supposed to run their homes—not the children! However, we so easily fall into a trap of letting children run things in our homes rather than parents.

Oh, it’s not intentional. None of us sets out in our parenting with the plan for the kids to run the show. We all have ideas that the parents will run things and the children will comply with the family rules and guidelines. Yet somehow, these dreams sometimes evaporate as we “walk on eggshells,” “try to keep peace,” and “attempt to make our children happy and comfortable.”

The Bible talks a lot about children being foolish, needing discipline, being ours for discipleship, being young and immature, being refreshingly na├»ve, and more. It makes it clear that when children are children they “think as children.” We all know that our kids were given to us to raise, care for, and train. Yet we sometimes lose sight of the fact that we truly do know what is best for our kids—and not the kids themselves.

Case in point—we know that it is safer for children to be in car seats (plus it’s the law in most states). And we follow through—even if they throw fits.

We also know that children need a certain amount of sleep, healthy foods, medications when they are ill, clean water, and more. But many of us can’t seem to carry out these things if a child protests too loudly that he does not want to go to bed (or stay in bed if he wakes up at five o’clock in the morning), that she does not want to eat what we know she should, etc. And those protests often drive us to actually allow our children to run certain areas of our homes rather than we parents running them.

We will refer to these scenarios throughout this year as “child-controlled homes” rather than “parent-controlled homes.” We have found that it is vital to the character training of our children for parents, not kids, to control the home. Once this is established in the early childhood years, other character training is so much easier.

And, believe it or not, kids are happier in parent-controlled homes  than they are in child-controlled homes. They feel secure. They know the boundaries. They are safe. They are being guided by adults who adore them and would do anything to keep them safe and well. This environment, in which parents make decisions for the children until they are mature enough, is a “safe haven” for children to develop positive character in the years to come.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paradigm #6: Whether or not it is possible to “wait too late” or discipline too little resulting in extremely negative consequences

There is one “punishment” Scripture that has always stood out to me among the several that are usually quoted—that is Proverbs 19:18: “Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise, you will ruin their lives” (NLT).

Two things stand out to me about this New Living Translation version passage:

1. There is a window of time to discipline our children that we can actually miss if we are not careful.

2. We can “ruin” our children’s lives if we do not discipline them.

Now, obviously, I can take these verses to extreme—I mean, what is the window? Is it fluid, based on each child or is it constant—and we need to be sure to stay on top of it? Am I one month too late, so my child’s future is sealed with disaster?

Is there no hope at all if I do not discipline---I mean, what about the sovereignty of God, what about free will, what about other influences, what about grace?

Obviously, these are proverbs for living—and our children are not absolutely doomed if we do not discipline them. (And we all make mistakes in our parenting.) However, this verse has always spoken to my heart that God wants me to do my part in child training of our young children—and to do it in a timely manner. And Proverbs are generally a glimpse into something bigger that we need to apply in our lives.

Society bears this verse out—as does research. Society says, “Get them while they’re young”; “this age or that age is the tenderest age.” In our heart of hearts, we know that children are impressionable. We know they are like sponges in their early years. We know that so many habits and behaviors are formed in the early years.

And research bears this out. So many studies have shown over and over again how much learning takes place in the early years of a child’s life. Various studies show signs of this—that 80% of everything a person knows is learned by age five; that a child’s moral compass is set by a certain age (for the most part); and on and on.

As is usually true, the Bible declared it first—then society and research confirms it (not that it needs confirmed!). I know in our parenting we have held this verse in high regard and tried to apply it to the early discipline of our children—with positive results.

By the way, the King James version of this Scripture is also born out in our children: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (KJV). Moms, especially, are prone to give in to a child’s crying and fussing—and Solomon even addressed this problem! Smile…

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Character Training From the Heart parenting seminar coming to Oak Grove!

What: Ray and Donna Reish's (of Positive Parenting 365 and Training for Triumph) "Character Training From the Heart" parenting seminar

When: Friday, February 18th and Saturday, February 19th

Times: Friday 6:00-9:00; Saturday morning 9:00-12:00

Where: Oak Grove Church of God in Columbia City, Indiana in the Hall.

RSVP: May RSVP by sending $10 per couple or individual and $5 for any and all children (not per child) and your name, address, phone, and email, along with children’s names and ages, to 2426 S. Raber Rd., Columbia City, 46725—note that scholarships are available; please call the church for that information.

More RSVP: May also register by phone (and walk-ins accepted)--Phone-260-244-3052

Children's Programming: Staffed nursery available for children ages three and under. Children’s ministry by Brother Joe Schmidt from Texas—illusions, stories, music, crafts, games, and snacks with a good helper/child ratio. (Note: Children’s programming and child care is only five dollars per family, regardless of number of children.) Children’s activities will be in the Children’s Zone—parents may visit, stay, or check on their children as desired. Note that babies may stay with parents if desired.

Details of Seminar: Ray and Donna will present their Friday evening and Saturday morning character training seminar for all Christian parents (see topic list below). To learn more about their ministry, visit their blog at

                                              Seminar Schedule

This Christian parenting seminar focuses on character training from toddlerhood through about age twelve. Sessions go in chronological order, age-wise, by character quality (with 45 min sessions and 10 min breaks between), so parents may choose the ones that pertain to them if they are unable to attend all of the seminar.

*Friday night and half day Saturday— 6:00-9:00 on Friday and 9:00-12:00 on Saturday

                                 FRIDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE

6:00-7:00 –OVERVIEW: The Why’s and How’s of Character Training: The Importance of Character Training, Modeling, Developing Good Family Habits, Parenting Paradims essential to character training, and more

7:00-8:00 --The Early Qualities in Toddlers and Preschoolers: Contentment, Obedience, Cheerfulness, and Submission

8:00-9:00 --Laying the Foundation for All Qualities for All Ages: Focus on Obedience and Submission; Child Discipline; Three Types of Parenting—Proactive, Positive, and Punishing

                             SATURDAY MORNING SCHEDULE

9:00-10:00 —Helping Our Children Add Virtue to Their Lives: Link Between Foundational Qualities and “Higher Level” Qualities; Helping Children Gain Their Own Moral/Character Compass; The Next Qualities

10:00-11:00 —From Obedience to Initiative: Responsibility, Helpfulness, Kindness, Respect, and Honesty

11:00-12:00 Growing in Character: Initiative, Deference, Resourcefulness, Diligence, Promptness, Empathy, and More

Paradigm #5: The level of impact that parents of young children have on the obedience and self control of their little ones

We constantly see/hear parents of little ones say, “Nothing I do makes any difference. No discipline works for him.” Truly, if I had felt in my nearly thirty years of parenting that it made no difference whatsoever whether I trained my children in obedience and self-control, I would not have done the hard work! We have to believe that our child discipline makes a difference.

As for our role in a young child’s obedience and self-control, several Scriptures have confirmed our role and impact, as has our toddler and preschool parenting years. First of all, to believe that we can have a strong influence on our little one’s behavior, we must believe the preceding paradigm—that “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” That is, we must believe that they are capable of evil—of bad behavior, in spite of their wonderfulness. (I know that’s not a word—but it truly is the best way I can describe young children!)

Then we must believe the second part of this verse—that “discipline will drive the foolishness from the child.”

Those were covered in the last couple of paradigms. However, even more importantly, is the belief that young children are incapable, in most cases, of controlling themselves—and that we are these kids’ “outward control” and initial “conscience influencers” during those years.

I Corinthians 13 says that when I was a child, I thought as a child. Coupling this with “foolishness being bound in the heart of a child,” we believe that they are truly the sweet, darling, yet control-lacking, beings that they appear to be. And we believe that parents are given the role of “outward controller” and even partial “conscience” (and definitely conscience-influencer) during these years. We, as their parents, can control their outward behaviors (through discipline) as we teach them and influence their consciences for the future.

A toddler naturally runs the other way, screams “no,” hits his playmate with the truck, and throws his food from the high chair. A parent can gently discipline the child (controlling his outward behavior for a bit), and build his conscience for future behaviors. (Obviously, this is coupled with Paradigm #10 about relationship being foundational to parenting—coming up soon!)

We will discuss the concept of building the child’s conscience through what some experts call “making deposits in the child’s moral bank” more fully in weeks to come. For now, suffice it to say, that if we believe that we are the child’s “control” at first—and that we are his or her primary “conscience-influencers” during the first few years, we will not be lax in correcting early behaviors that are unacceptable.