Ask ten people about the best way to raise children, and you’ll get at least eleven different opinions. All correct in the eyes of the holder.
The opinions range from “Children don’t need discipline if parents model good behavior” to “Children come to us wild and need to be broken.”
Yikes! You don’t need to know much about life to take a pass on either of those ideas. Can we find some middle ground?
Well, the Bible talks about disciplining our children. In fact, it says if you refuse to discipline your children, you don’t love them. But you don’t want to carry it too far because it also warns against being too harsh.
One Bible verse offers a clue, although it needs some explaining.
It says, “Point your kids in the right direction–when they’re old they won’t be lost”
And here’s what that means:
Babies come with everything they need to accomplish what God put them on earth to do. No blank slates here. They have the personality they need, the intelligence they need, the height potential they need. Everything.
When you get a baby, you get a complete package. The tricky part is discovering what’s in the package, then developing it.
And what does this have to do with the verse? Well, it’s a lot clearer in the original language, but the “right direction” is about making sure you help your children develop what God put in them–the right direction for them.
You don’t get to decide they should have your personality. You need to help them develop the one they came with.
And you need to guide them as they discover what talents they came with, give them what they need to sharpen those talents, then work with them to determine what sort of life fits their talents.
It’s all about the uniqueness of each child. It’s a lot of work. And it’s a parent’s job, according to God.
We discipline as needed to shape a moral character, including such things as honesty, a concern for others and the patience to pursue goals.
We encourage by letting our children know God designed each of them to fit His specific purpose, the reason they were born. We assure them they have everything they need to accomplish God’s purpose, and we help them discover all of it.
So, as the verse concludes, they won’t end up lost. They’ll know who they are, and they’ll know life has purpose.
Bette Dowdell writes and speaks about maximizing life. Raised in The Salvation Army, Bette has worked as an IBM Systems Engineer, small company consultant, owner of a software company and a registered mutual fund representative for The Vanguard Group. Read more about Bette and check out her books at http://ConfidentFaith.com.
For more thought about parenting, read Bette’s article “In Praise Of Strong-Willed Children” at http://budurl.com/4slt