by Melisa Gaines
Children don’t come with an owner’s manual. No experience is required. If having a baby biologically, you get about nine moths to prepare for the most challenging job of your life! If you give birth in a hospital, most require you to have a car seat installed properly to ensure the child’s physical safety, and they may provide a lactation consultant or formula to help the child get some nourishment the first couple of days of his or her life, but other than that, you go home with a human and don’t have a clue what you are doing. It’s crazy to think that getting any other job usually requires education, experience, and references. That’s not the case with motherhood.
Once we get past the hurdle of trying to figure out how to nurture this child God has entrusted to our care, pretty quickly they grow up and start walking and talking and making their own decisions. What then!? A whole new learning curve approaches and most are unprepared.
We are told in Scripture that “the rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). Most parents understand the need to reprove their children’s wrong behavior, but Scripture also teaches us that we are to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
What I want to emphasize is that instructing them positively with Scripture is equally as important as correcting them when they do wrong.
Let me share with you how I try to do that with my kids in our home.
I pray often that I would “speak with wisdom and faithful instruction would be on my tongue” (Proverbs 31:26). In order for us to faithfully instruct our children with wisdom we must be hiding God’s word in our own hearts. We should be reading it, memorizing it, and trying to live it out as we train our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
When they are young we can tell them how they should have responded in a certain situation and role play the right behavior to help them understand. As they get older we can ask them how they should have responded and give them a chance to respond the right way to practice how they will respond the next time.
Here are some examples:
1. If your child is quarreling or arguing you can say, “God wants us to do everything without arguing. Are you being a peacemaker?”
Philippians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
After they answer, you can tell them that “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). God says “it is foolish to quarrel (Proverbs 20:3), but he gives joy to those who promote peace” (Proverbs 12:20).
2. When your child responds to you with, “no!” you can either avoid the situation and do nothing, make excuses for them (he’s tired, or hungry, etc.), scream at them, or reprove and instruct.
In this situation I usually remind my child who is in authority over them by asking, “who is the boss?” When they recognize who is in charge we say Ephesians 6:1 together. “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” I then ask them how they should have responded and expect them to reply with “yes, ma’am,” because we live in the south and this shows respect.
3. If your child is talking to you with a disrespectful tone, you can tell them they are being disrespectful and it will not go well with them if they dishonor you and talk to you like that. (Deuteronomy 5:16)
4. What if siblings are cutting one another down with their words? I remind them to “only say what is helpful for building others up” (Ephesians 4:29). And I ask them to apologize and say something encouraging to the sibling they just harmed.
There are so many different scenarios that we could list where we can use scripture when instructing our children. I want to teach my children to think like Christians, and not just conform to the expected outward behavior, but be able to discern what is going on in their hearts. Sin is always a heart issue that manifests itself in outward behavior. As my children have gotten older and able to write, it is not unusual for me to sit them down at the table with paper and pen and have them write out a verse or two about the sin they need to put off and the right behavior/attitude they need to put on. An extremely helpful resource I have found is Ginger Hubbard’s “Wise Words For Moms.” It’s essentially a cheat sheet for Bible verses that deal with specific sins.
Parenting is hard! It takes a lot of time, work, effort, and consistency. Let me encourage you with these words:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Melisa is a pastor’s wife and mother of four. She and her family live in Jackson, TN where her husband, Grant, serves as the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. Melisa is a homemaker and just recently started a new business from her home! She is also a licensed dental hygienist. Melisa is an avid reader and loves to study God’s Word. We are blessed to have her sharing with us on Missional Motherhood!