I’ve been answering a lot of parenting questions lately – on line, on FB, at the mall, at church, on the beach. I wish sometimes I had a recorder handy to get all sides of the conversations and share them with you. I’ve spent many a morning thinking of what I want to share – and it seems like such a big multifaceted conversation that it is hard to narrow it down to one post. One topic. One entry point.
I thought I’d start with resources that have helped me . Molded my way of thinking. Gave me permission to take these paths.
The first book handed to me when the boys were 4 and 2 was For Instruction in Righteousness by Doorposts. (no links, no affiliates, just sharing – they are easy to search)
I had been meeting with a mentor friend, trying to sort out what homeschool would look like for preschool, Kindergarten, and Maybe, maybe if it was working out – 1st grade.
One of the must have books she loaned me as a 2 inch plastic spiral bound heavy duty book. Cute hand drawn characters on the front – an inside. Hundreds of pages of text. I’m not going to lie – it was a bit overwhelming. But my friend opened the book, and asked me a question. “What are you working with right now with your boys?”
Sadly, I didn’t have an answer. Potty Training? Eating at the table without throwing food? Picking up Toys? Staying in the yard? came to mind. No – she redirected – those are actions. What heart issues? Character issues are you training? Jon’s 2. What could I mold?
FIIR lays out many heart issues. Trust. Character. Faith. like Pride. Lying. Lazy. Theft. Friendships. It also tosses out the opposites of Humility, Truth, Service, Giving, and – Friendships. Ha.
Dealing with honesty – it gives several biblical examples of the blessings and cursing’s of the tongue. What are some consequences given to deceit? What are blessings given to truth. Straight from the Bible.
Then, there are lil sections – 1-3 lines long, that give examples of common circumstances. If you complain – try eating a large piece of overly toasted bread. It’s not comfortable. Ties back to a verse. Makes a point. It shows on the blessings side, several little every day things to bless those who are trying to live it out. A special plate, a banner, a crown. Catching them doing good. Trying.
I remember the first day I sat down with the boys and read a section to them. And Jon – even at 2 years old, I could see his eyes registered with an aha moment. And he said – “Then I don’t want to do that anymore.” And he didn’t’. My jaw was hinged open. I’m not sure the reaction I was expecting, but I didn’t believe that they’d understand such ‘grown up’ conversation.
I ordered the book that day, and returned their copy. I think I’ve ordered 4-5 copies since. Loaning mine out, buying for friends, etc.
The biggest thing that happens when I open this book – is the change in my own heart. I might be looking up selfishness, laziness, or self control. I like to pre-read through the sections and find a lil bit that is relevant to what we are going through. Sometimes, I have an undesired behavior going on in the house but I am unsure where the root is coming from. As I browse the verses the realization hits that I’ve been allowing this in my home. In my own heart. Demonstrating in my own actions, and they are mirroring my character.
This Instructing in Righteousness – is not punishments. Not thumping them on the head. It is instruction. Hearing for the first time. Giving information they do not know. Hearing from those who have gone before us. Not needing to walk the same path twice. Learning from mistakes. Training. Training. Training. Then Training Some More.
What I like – is that it is not opinion. I don’t call a girlfriend and share the character faults of my child. Talk about their complaining heart for hours. Complain about their complaining. Then come up with more opinions of why this is bad and why it should stop. Dream up all sorts of punishments to make it stop.
Making a behavior stop – will only grow a new behavior. Maybe even a worse one. Have you ever dealt with thistles? I used to walk about our property and aggressively yank them up til my hand bled and my wrists were limp. All I was doing was creating 2-10 new plants, since the roots would each sprout a new plant. I learned, a couple of years into it, that I could put a solution at the base of the plant and let the plant die over time, or I could cut the plant as it started to grow. If you continue to cut it down, the root will die. Lil kitchen shears while I walk around with my coffee was SO much easier when the plants were tiny in the spring. A little walk about a couple of times in the spring, would mean that there would be no 5 foot high pokey thistles in the field in the fall. Worth it.
And such is this thing of nipping unwanted character traits in the bud. Focusing their growth in healthier ways. Seeing their God Given Personalities as good – and redirecting them to grow healthy in the Lord. Sure, it still takes a lot of bending over, a bit of work. But it is worth it. If you focus on making a behavior stop, you have not helped your child. You might get a break, be less embarrassed at the store, etc. but it hasn’t changed the child.
Taking every thought captive, handing it over to the Word, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide their hearts, walking in a home filled with music, joy, the Word, and helpful training will produce amazing fruit in your children – and in your whole family – in YOU.
Now that they are 14 and 17, I can say – the same book still handy. Still blesses my heart. Still helps when I don’t know where to turn. Because it is filled with God’s Word. A Topical Bible Directory. Man’s opinions and ways will change like the wind, but God’s Word never changes.
It is a verse, written in my little red leather bible, by my Dad when I was a young teen aged girl – and the basis for this book:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.