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Teach a child in the way they should go...

“Instruction is good for a child; but example is worth more.”
― Alexandre Dumas

In today’s society, it is more important than ever to raise our children the right way. Whether you are a Christian parent or not, there are some Biblical principles that can build character in your child, improve their relationships, and give them a better awareness of the world around them. We will have a look at some of them here, with a list of life lessons that will serve your child well as he/she grows up and develops into the person God intended them to be.

Lesson #1: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother”  (Ephesians 6: 1-2)
How many times have you quoted this to your child?  Probably in those moments when they have had a temper tantrum or refused to do what you have asked them. But as the parent, you are responsible for reminding them of the respect that is due to you. It won’t only serve your relationship well with them, but it will also teach your children the importance of respecting authority in general, such as when they eventually move into employment. Of course, you need to operate fairness. If you do expect your children to honour and respect you, ensure your behaviour towards them doesn’t test the boundaries of their patience with you.

Lesson #2: I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way (Matthew Chapter 14: 14)
This is just one of the many lessons in the Bible on compassion. Jesus cared for everybody, no matter their colour or creed, and this is something that every child should learn. It’s about accepting others, not limiting their care and compassion to the people who are ‘like’ them, but to welcome everybody, regardless of differences.

It’s about caring for those in need, whether it’s a friend who is being bullied, or a homeless person on the street. And as the parent, you are responsible for teaching your children about the injustice in the world, and setting them on a path that leads them to be charitable to those less fortunate.

Lesson #3: Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
We are living in a world where children are being bombarded with messages about their outward appearances. Partly due to peer pressure and the media, our children have been taught how to look a certain way in order to be accepted. Now, there is nothing wrong with our kids following fashion, and some of it can be quite practical. Shop here, as one example. But care needs to be taken. They shouldn’t rely on dress sense or outward appearance to be accepted in the world. You will spend a fortune on dressing and accessorising them, and your children will grow up always trying to conform to others, and feeling inferior if they are ‘different.’  They may also judge others for not having the ‘right clothes’ or for not ‘looking normal.’ It’s a shallow response. Instead, teach your children two things from this lesson. Firstly, to be themselves, and secondly, to accept others, regardless of how they look. In both cases, it’s what’s inside that matters.

Lesson #4: So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago (Isaiah 43:18)
In life, we make mistakes. We do things that make us feel like a failure to those around us. We beat ourselves up for the things we feel guilty about. Yet, we need to pick ourselves up, move on, and aim for the future, rather than being twisted up about the past. And so it is with your children. If they feel guilty about something they have done, no matter how small, remind them that God forgives them. Make sure you show that same forgiveness too. When something from the past causes them fear for the future, perhaps because they have experienced failure in something, remind them of their strengths, and why the past doesn’t have to apply to every circumstance in their life. Teach them the value of who they are today, and not who they were yesterday.

Lesson #5: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4: 29)
Teach your children the right and the wrong ways to use their tongue. Rather than letting bad language, insults, and lies come from their mouths, teach them the value of speaking to others in more respectful ways. They may encourage a friend who is feeling down, for example, or offer advice to somebody who is struggling.

As is said in the book of James, sometimes the tongue needs to be tamed. Unwholesome talk that is only intended to hurt others or to elevate themselves needs to be countered with words of grace. And, of course, sometimes it is better to say nothing at all, especially if the words on your child’s lips are going to get them into trouble.

Lesson #6: Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 6:13)
Your children will face many temptations in life. They may be tempted to steal something, buy something they don’t need, or have the temptation to follow what other people are telling them. Sometimes, they will succumb, and then pay the consequences. So, teach your children about the dangers of giving in to temptation. Talk to them about the importance of thinking before they act. Tell them about the dangers in the world, and all the different ways people can lead them astray. And remind them to pray, that when they are tempted, to take a moment and give the situation to God. Like the disciples, they will make mistakes – the flesh is indeed weak – but you can still help them and listen to them when they tell you about the temptations they face, and offer ways to overcome them.

Summary:
6 important life lessons.

  1. Respect authority
  2. Care for others
  3. Be yourself (and don’t judge others)
  4. Forgive yourself
  5. Speak with grace
  6. Don’t fall to temptation

 Not only are these lessons important for your children, but they are important for us all. Take note of them today, and practice these principles in your life so your children will follow your good example.

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