Using the Word of God to
Lay the Foundation for Family Relations
and Child Training
by Katherine Johnson

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).

This is the essence of the daily Christian walk, and applies to child training as well as to any other area. God has the answers to all our child-training questions, and we need to be in communion with Him to gain His wisdom and the strength to use it.

Remember, God “knit” your children together, so he knows them better than any child-training “expert,” His advice is free, and He's never busy! Throughout the day, when you are puzzled by your children's behavior, wondering how to direct their activities, or overwhelmed by the great task of teaching and parenting, take advantage of the guidance of your perfect heavenly Father.

When the children get up, we sit together on the couch and listen to the Bible on CD. They look at their Bible story books while I read my Bible. Since it is almost a daily affair, they are used to it, and it is not burdensome.

What an example to your children if they see you in the Word on a regular basis, whether you feel like it or not! Then they can see you draw on that time throughout the day, putting into action what you have learned and received from God. They will remember your consecrated life and likely draw on that.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV).

This verse implies being proactive in teaching our children to walk in the ways of the Lord, guiding them in the steps they should take, not just letting them go until they do something wrong and then correcting them.

If your day is filled with frustration and bad attitudes, maybe you should stop teaching for a while and go back to training. Learning can be such a joy to them when they have been taught to quickly and completely obey with a joyful, content spirit. If they have not got that down, put the books on the shelf and work on getting them under your authority. They will be better students and you will enjoy your teaching much more. And what a joy it will be someday when they can transfer that obedience to God, doing His complete will immediately with a happy heart! Then you will know you have taught them the most crucial lesson, one that has eternal value.

Choose activities to direct your children's days and actively involve them in the workings of your household. Our 1- and 3-year-old children can help with putting dirty clothes in the hamper, setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, putting cereal away, putting clothes in the dryer, taking out the garbage, changing the baby's diaper, clearing and wiping the table, taking groceries in, and baking.

These jobs are not distasteful to the children, because we do them every day, and they want to spend time with us. It takes at least twice the amount of time to do these things with their help, but they are spending their time in constructive learning, and we are learning patience (James 1)! We will reap the benefits in the years to come, and they will be thankful that their life wasn't all about playing, making work burdensome in their older years.

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 KJV).

For this Scripture to be real in your life, you have to be with the Lord a lot and be with your children a lot. Also, you have to be diligent in teaching them to pray and know the Word, incorporating it throughout the day.

Just as it appears, this does not leave much time for other activities. This may mean giving up a favorite hobby, an exercise class, or working outside the home. It may be painful (as giving up your will for God's usually is--Matthew 26:39), but you will reap the benefits years later when you invest in the eternal instead of the temporal (II Corinthians 4:18).

If you are unsure about the value of a certain activity in your week, take it to the Lord and offer to give it up, then pray and see what He would have you do. Freeing up your schedule to devote to your children really helps in child training, because as you are active in teaching your children the Word and spending more time with them, they will not have as much time to get into “mischief.” You will be the one coming up with ideas and activities, not they!

Ask the Lord to give you ideas and show you how to direct your children's day. Not having a television for the last year has been such a blessing to us. We try to teach the children to help with whatever we are doing (work or hobbies), and we can use those opportunities to talk about Bible stories, character traits, or God's wonderful creation.

You might be saying, “I don't have the patience for that!” Well, we still struggle with that, but what a wonderful opportunity to let the Lord teach us more and more patience; I can't imagine having too much before I die! We all have different personalities, but that is no excuse for not obeying simple Bible commands. Since God wants us to teach our children, He can give us the strength (and patience) to do it by His Spirit, day by day. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), and God will take care of your needs.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15 KJV).

How much are your children allowed to direct their own days or choose their own activities, and how long are they allowed to play without parental interaction and supervision? Do you closely supervise them so that you can address issues of importance, like positive or negative behavior and attitudes, or are a lot of incidents going unnoticed?

Are you consistent in reproving and chastening your children or are they getting away with wrong behaviors and attitudes because you are on the phone or busy elsewhere? Are they given enough constructive activities to do so they are not as likely to be idle and fall into sin? Remember that a child can be “left to himself” even if he is in the same house (or room) as you.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 KJV).

Children will get enough foolishness from being in the world; do not encourage it in your home. It is possible to have fun and laugh with your children without being foolish or silly. Enjoy God's unique and wonderful creation in appropriate ways, and teach your children to do likewise.

Often children do not have the self-control to stop inappropriate behaviors, and their actions soon turn disobedient. Do not do them a disservice by tempting them further in this area. Foolish behavior is a waste of God's time; let's spend our time the way the Lord would have us spend it, doing the will of God as spelled out in His Word.

Use the rod of correction in love, knowing it will someday produce righteousness. Do not let rebellious behavior or discontent attitudes continue without consequence.

Make sure your children know how much you care that they walk uprightly in the ways of the Lord and enjoy the blessings of submission and obedience to God. They will rest secure when they know you will drop other activities (which means being very consistent) to assure they have a right spirit.

Be prepared for your children to disobey, and do not be surprised; it is an opportunity to teach them. Do not take their sinful behavior personally; they are sinners and have foolishness bound in their heart. It is your duty to help them see that it is always best to obey, but make sure you do it with a concerned and loving heart.

When a child is exhibiting a certain distasteful or sinful behavior on a regular basis, I have found it helpful to look in the mirror. Often you will find a sin in your own life that is affecting your child. For example, if your child is talking back or challenging your judgment, note how you have been relating to your spouse. Have you been questioning his actions or decisions? Work on you, and working on your child may not be as difficult.

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Cor. 15:33 KJV).

If you work hard at seeing that your children develop good character, you don't want it soured by bad company. If you see a spirit of discontent, disrespect, rebellion, etc., in your children, look at a typical day to see if you can spot some of their “bad company.” These can be Christian or non-Christian children or adults, siblings, a television show, books, or video games.

Eliminate media that is negatively influencing your child; it is not worth the money you paid for it. Work with the child's siblings to create better character in them, and closely supervise their time spent together. Adjust or discontinue time spent with other individuals, closely supervising relations.

Never underestimate the possibility of other people or things negatively influencing your children. It's one thing if it cannot be avoided, as with a family member or city billboards, but it's another if you encourage and promote it on a regular basis. Deal with these “evil communications” as soon as possible, and when you do, think eternally, not temporally!

“But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (I Peter 3:4).

Many of us struggle with this, as it may not come naturally to us. It is probably largely in part because we did not grow up this way. (The women's “liberation” movement has been a key factor in a woman's challenge with being meek and quiet.) But since it is “precious” in the sight of God, then we surely want to do it. It can really affect our children and make the home a peaceful place to learn.

Confession is crucial in this area of meekness. If you are an immature Christian like I am, open confession should be a regular part of your week. As soon as you see your sin (harshness, impatience, selfishness, etc.), confess it to your children and/or husband, even to those little toddlers. And just as importantly, ask for forgiveness.

Be humble, and you will see a change in your children. Your example speaks volumes, especially to the older ones, who are not deceived by hypocrisy. We cannot be harsh with our children and expect them to be kind and forgiving to their siblings. We cannot be unsubmissive to our husbands and expect our children to obey their father's command with complete respect. Be the person God wants you to be, and child training will be less work.

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands” (I Peter 3:1 KJV).

This is so crucial to child training, yet an area often overlooked. Your marriage relationship shouts to your children, as it is an area of great security or insecurity to them. When your children are disrespectful to your husband, look at your own actions to see where you have not been honoring him.

Simple things like helping the children clean up for Dad before he comes home from work, greeting him at the door, looking at him when he speaks, making the dessert he likes, and encouraging the children to bless him can be very honoring to him and speak volumes to the children.

Also, very important to remember is that this Bible command is not contingent on whether or not your husband fulfills his Christian duty as a husband or father; the command to you remains.

Do not let your pride bring shame to the Gospel of Christ because you won't let your husband “get away with” not doing his job. He does not have to deserve your honor, it should be his by nature of his position. It is designed to encourage him and can cause him to flourish as a Christian man.

Let your husband be your head, even when his decisions seem ridiculous. Pray for him daily and let him know you are his helpmeet, here to serve him and the children. You have such an important position (read Proverbs 31), and such a strong influence in your family; let it be a positive one. Your children will be far better off, and many more will be brought to Christ through your submissive spirit.

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

This is a struggle for many men, as they often work long hours away from home to support their families. To teach their children the ways of God and discipline them may mean giving up other activities, maybe even a job, but it will pay dividends in eternity.

Wives, you are crucial in supporting your husband in this great task before him. Pray for him daily, that he would lean on the Lord and gain strength, wisdom, and the desire to train the children in the ways of righteousness. Free him up to do this by having the house in order or supporting him in other ways so that he will have the time to invest in the children. (If the lawn is not mowed and the checkbook is a mess, he will not feel free to focus on the children.)

Serve your husband like you would serve the Lord, sacrificially, not wanting your own way, but focusing on the eternal benefits of obeying God's Word and walking by the Spirit. Every time you want to criticize, whisper a prayer instead. Do not present to your husband all his faults, trying to change him.

Remember not to let unwholesome talk come from your mouth but only what is going to build up others (Ephesians 4:29). If you are not sure what will build him up, ask him. Be eternally minded, thinking of what would benefit your children's souls, and not what would benefit you. Do not be petty; what will it matter in a million years!

If your husband does not have a desire to nurture your children in the Lord, pray fervently and continue to honor and be a helpmeet to him; your job description is not contingent on his behavior. Don't let Satan win the battles by causing you to defile the Word of God with your behavior. Teach and train the children diligently, and you will be light and salt to your husband.

This may seem impossible to most women as they vacillate between building up and tearing down their men. But there is victory in Christ Jesus. You can be freed from the bondage of being a dominant wife and enjoy the blessings of being a truly submissive wife. Your children will benefit even more from the new you, and your home will be a much more enjoyable place to spend the day.

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4 KJV).

Begin each day with a smile. Teach your children to be thankful for all that you have. Thank God for them and the opportunity to teach them His Word. Let them hear you cry out to God when you're frazzled, asking for His divine guidance in raising them.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5 KJV).

We should first seek the Lord in all things, including family relations and child training. Already we are seeing the fruit of hard work by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you as you build on the solid rock!

Katherine J., Texas

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