In the past two months we have tackled the right parenting approach (heart parenting), discipline with love (use of the rod) as well as house rules (home commandments). Now why not talk about specific values we want to teach and instill in our children?
They say that the first seven years of a child’s life is foundational so much so that everything you want your child to know and be as an adult, you teach to them from ages zero to seven. During those years, what our children need is their parents as teachers (the older your children get the more you transition from the role of a teacher to that of a friend and eventually a guide).
Allow me to share some of the pertinent life lessons I have been teaching Gummy since she was one and a half years old (the age she could clearly comprehend and communicate). Please also bear in mind that I am this intentional about molding her into Christ-likeness because these are the very values I loosely observed before she came along and before I had a “heart transplant.”
Love and respect for people. Children or at least mine, tend to discriminate and be afraid of people who are darker skinned and on the heavy side. I taught her that we are all made uniquely, beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God and therefore we must respect peoples’ individuality. Do not judge based on how others look. Respect even those younger than you. (John 13:34 “Love one another as I have loved you.”)
Right motivation. “In all that you do, do it all for the glory of God.” says 1 Corinthians 10:31. When it comes to performing in front of a crowd, I always remind Gummy to do her best because it is the Lord she is performing for. In terms of grades and scores in school, I teach her that her scores do not gauge her intelligence and it is not what matters to Mummy. Instead, I emphasize that so long as she knows she did her best, which is always what makes God happy, then whatever the result of her works are will be greatly appreciated. Your motivation in anything you do must be to make Papa God happy (glorify Him).
Recognition and humility. When people praise you for being beautiful or good or smart, simply say “Thank you.” Do not brag. Do not “feel” it. Even if you know you were great, recognize that without the Lord’s help you would not have succeeded or done a great job that people will praise you for. Ultimately recognize God who gave you the gifts and talents you have. When people praise you, praise the Lord. “For the Lord takes delight in His people, He crowns the humble with salvation.” – Psalm 149:4
Perfection and appreciation. It’s okay to make mistakes because Mummy makes mistakes too every day. You don’t need clean coloring and straight lines for an artwork to be lovely. The work itself is worthy of appreciation. Note to parents: Oftentimes we look for perfection (so we inevitably end up in disappointment when our children fall short of our standards) and often forget that our children are children. Recognize them for the efforts they put into creating things and not the outcome. Encourage them.
Gratitude. All blessings are from above. “In anything give thanks.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Always be thankful for what we have. And when you do not get exactly what you want, still be grateful for what you have. Start the day by saying “Thank you Lord for today.”
Honesty and speaking the truth in love. “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” – Ephesians 4:15. I always tell Gummy that there should be no secrets from Mummy and that she can tell me anything and everything – what she thinks about others and even how she feels no matter how negative it is. Our children feeling negative emotions about others is a good opportunity to teach them to be vocal but not offensive. Christ himself empowers us with boldness to speak the truth always but clothed in love.
Hard work. God is the source of everything. “Every good and perfect gift is from above” says the Bible in James 1:17. The skills and talents that we have, the opportunities that come our way are all from God. We acknowledge the blessing by working hard, doing our best and being a good steward of those very blessings.
Praying. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” – Philippians 4:6 Whether in times of fear, joy, sickness and blessing always pray. Communicate to God everything and He promises to answer our prayers. Gummy at her age prays confidently like God is her bestfriend.
Material possessions and giving to others. We do not need to always buy a new toy or new clothes whenever we are out. Only when we need them or there are occasions. Gummy is also taught to give away things that she no longer plays with because that means we can make other, less fortunate children happy. For street dwellers who knock and beg while we’re on the road, I taught her to give food and to give even if that is her last bread. Because we can always buy and at that moment we should bless others who have none. (Acts 20:35 It is more blessed to give than to receive.)
Patience and waiting. Learn to wait. Some things take time. You cannot always get what you want when you want them – I always remind her of these things when she is being impatient. At five-and-a-half Gummy knows how to delay gratification and practice self control. If I tell her not to open a gift or to have the dessert she wants for tomorrow after lunch instead, she manages and never throws tantrums. (Proverbs 14:29 Whoever is patient has great understanding.)
The list actually goes on but these are the core values. Please do share with me what values you are very particular about instilling and planting in your children. I would love to grow my list.