As a parent of a college sophomore, as a former Youth Minister, as a former assistant Jr. High Basketball coach, and as someone married to an Elementary School teacher, I have some advice I want to share about teaching our children. This advice comes from my experiences – both good and bad.
We should teach them:
1. To Love Reading. Teachers may give students the basic tools to read, but if parents do not read to children when they are young and model a love of reading, teachers fight an uphill battle. If you do not want your child left behind, teach them to love reading.
2. To Pray. Children should learn early that God cares for them and watches over them. Teach them to spend time telling God about their day and their needs. Give them an example of prayer, let them see you pray and pray with them and for them often.
3. To Be Grateful (Thankful). Ingratitude is a bane of current society. Too many people have a sense of entitlement and are not grateful for what they have. Teach your children to say, “Thank you” to those who provide needs and gifts. This would include God. Demonstrate this thankfulness in your conversations and prayer. Tell your spouse “thank you” for what they do and let your children hear you say that.
4. To Pay Their Way. This is a second anti-entitlement point. Not everything in life is free, nor are you (they) entitled to everything. The wisdom of our Founding Fathers is evident in the statement that we are only entitled to the freedom of the PURSUIT of happiness, not all the things we think will make us happy. (Washington, are you listening?)
5. To Read God’s Word. Our public education system owes its existence to early settlers and colonists wanting their children to learn to read so that they could read the Bible. God’s word is a great guide to life in general and the ONLY guide to life eternal. Read to, with, and in your children’s presence.
6. To Love God. Jesus said this is the greatest commandment. The Israelites were to bind this before their eyes, talk of it on the road, and write it on the door posts. Teach children to know God loves them and how to return that love.
7. To Love Others. Jesus said this is the second greatest commandment. This is really what the “Golden Rule” of treating others the way you want treated is all about. Again it is imperative that we model this love to our children.
8. The Importance of a Committed Marriage. Countless hours of research exists that show the importance of a committed marriage to the well-being of children. This is one point you definitely should exemplify. Let your children see how important your husband or wife (their dad or mom) is to you. In fact, let them know that your relationship with their other parent comes before your relationship with them.
9. To Encourage (Be Complimentary). We live in such a negative world. We need more people like Barnabas (Acts 4 – 5) who will work to encourage others. One way we can help our children be better at encouragement is to encourage them in their pursuits.
10. To be Humble. Children enter this world egocentric. They cry when they have needs – feeding, changing, physical contact, etc. We should meet those needs, but as they mature physically, mentally, and emotionally we should gently guide them to understand that they are NOT the center of the world or even the family. I am not advocating a throw-back to “don’t speak until you are spoken too” mentality of years gone by, but children do need to learn that others are important (see #’s 3, 4, 7, and 9 above). Humility is important to successful marriages, success in all relationships, and in our approach to God.
What are we teaching our children?