I feel close to Hannah from the Bible. Hannah wanted a baby—a feeling that I fully comprehend. I don’t understand, however, how Hannah was willing to give him up (back) to the Lord when he was weaned. I can imagine that lengthy and emotional nursing relationship!
Hannah did not just mother Samuel. She trained him up in the way of the Lord. Young as he was, Samuel already “knew better” when Hannah delivered her son to the temple into Eli’s care. He had been trained to honor the Lord.
To train our children in the way he should go is a vitally important job! You only get one chance at it, and you can’t go back and re-do it. The future depends on parents to do their job well. Here are a few gems of wisdom, gleaned from other wise mothers, that I have depended on in training my children.
Start Early and Look to the Future
One evening my husband and I were eating in a restaurant when I observed the family at a table next to us. The mother and father were blessed with two darling little boys, probably one and three years old. Having raised boys, I looked at those sweet boys with tenderness. They were so precious, so teachable, so vulnerable. As they were waiting for their meal, the little ones began dabbling in their water glasses, dripping water down their sleeves and all over their clothes, place setting and chairs. I watched, appalled that the mother did or said nothing. Eventually she commented that they were getting all wet. How I yearned to tell that mother that neglect in training now at their young and teachable age would yield teenagers that had little self-control and scant respect for proper table manners to say nothing of authority, property, or law and order. It is so easy to teach a three year old how to act and so impossible to teach a thirteen year old. Start young when your gentle guidance is so effective. Young ones are so eager to please you! Teach them how!
Studies show that children imagine God as they view their own father. God planned for daddies to lead the family. Mom, you will do yourself a favor if you make sure that Daddy gets the biggest piece and constant gratitude for what he provides by working daily for the family’s upkeep. Just as Heavenly Father grants us blessings, Daddy’s diligence at work brings the needed material blessings. I have tried to make it a habit to include gratitude for our Dad in our family prayers. I wasn’t surprised to hear my children begin to follow my pattern, but I was surprised to hear them also to thank Heavenly Father for all their Mom does too! Nice payback! If you are critical of your husband, the children will also criticize him, plus they will criticize you, too. Appreciation creates respect.
“What?! I don’t train them to ignore me!” we may protest. But that is exactly what we parents tend to do. First, we ask our beloved child to get his pajamas on. Then we do nothing to make sure he obeys. Then, after awhile, we say it again. Then we do nothing to make sure he obeys. After a third or fourth repeat of the command to put on pajamas, we feel angry and scolding and wonder why our child just won’t obey us! But we have very effectively taught a memorable lesson which is, “I only mean what I say 1/3 or less of the time so chances are you don’t have to obey me”. In the end, our own inconsistency creates a parent-deaf child.
A neighbor who works with horses taught me that you can ruin a horse with a heavy hand. If you consistently pull too hard on the reins, the horse’s very sensitive mouth will eventually harden to protect itself. Then instead of an instant response to your slightest pressure, you will have to tug and yank at the horse to get it to follow your directions. Ah, and true with children! A three year old does not need a harsh scolding when he breaks a rule. He needs a gentle nudge in the right direction. If you are too heavy handed, just as with a horse, your child will become insensitive to your discipline.
Take No Lip
It is not okay for a child to complain, pout, grumble, sulk, sass, badmouth or judge his parents when asked to do something. I used to think if my child obeyed my command, I had succeeded. I used to say such things as, “You don’t have to like it, but you have to do it.” I allowed complaining and back talk. Now I realize that the seeds of disrespect are sowed in negative words. Don’t let them have a place to thrive! Thumper was right all along: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
One mother solved homeschool grumbling by setting a little cup for each child on the school room table. Every complaint by the children went uncorrected, but sure as shootin’, a button clanged into their cup. At the end of school time, buttons had to be paid for by completing ten math problems. You can get creative here…washing 10 dishes…etc. In our house, we’ve tried having teenagers pay for a sassy response with a $5 bill. It is amazing how quickly these little measures can teach us all to control our tongues. Keep it playful, but don’t allow your children to disrupt the family leadership with grumbling.
I marvel that Hannah did so much to train her child in the few short years given her! To raise up a child to bring honor to the Lord—I am certain there is no more noble and worthy work. Sure makes home life a lot more enjoyable too!
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