Besides marriage, parenting is one of the most difficult responsibilities God gives us. Our children come without a manual and no instructions on how to get it right, and all children are totally different—what works for one child doesn’t work at all for the others. So the question is: How do we equip our children for life when we live in a society that requires nothing and expects even less?
The idea that parents do everything for their children and get no respect and nothing in return has been a fascinating phenomenon I have observed as a psychologist in the past thirty years, so I have seen the impact of parents requiring little from their children. Training children for life is much different than “raising kids.” You raise pigs, or you train children. Let’s talk a little about how to equip your children for life, so that you don’t end up heartbroken and your children end up lazy and worthless.
Parents are responsible for establishing basic life structure which provides children with a foundational framework on which to build their lives. A few of these life disciplines are listed below:
- A routine eating schedule—three meals a day at basically the same time. A schedule!!
- Require a child to eat good nutritious food and not only what they like. Establishing poor eating habits will be with them for life and can result in poor overall health.
- A routine bedtime—same time to bed and the same time to arise. Parents who never require a specific bed time are setting up major life style problems for their children when they are grown. Stay up all night and sleep all day leads to overall failure for most people.
- Don’t give in to a child’s foolish demands—the ones that end up in fit throwing, tantrums, screaming and crying to get their way. Hold the line and figure out a discipline that works for each child and then stick with it until the child understands “you are in control.”
- If a child is old enough to do it themselves, then require they do it—whatever “it” is. Teaching basic life responsibility requires a lot of consistency on your part and it will wear you out, but both of you will benefit from you teaching life skills. Picking up toys, making their beds, cleaning their bathrooms, washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen (even the boys), learning to do laundry and ironing, learning to cook, and getting a part-time job when old enough to do so (around 15 or 16).
- Teach basic manners and “niceties” for you will not be sorry you did.
Boys need to learn how to mow yards and weed-eat the grass, wash cars, and do other things that men need to do to take responsibility for their families when they grow up. By all means, require your sons to get a job when they are old enough to work. Girls need to learn to care for a home, their clothes, cook good meals, AND get a job as well. I have worked with a lot of teenagers in my practice, and many of them spend hours a day hanging out with their friends after school doing nothing rather than engaging in some productive endeavor. I have found the more people engage in productive endeavor the happier and better adjusted they are.
You are not doing your children any favors by allowing them to vegetate in front of video games, TV and cell phones. These activities are great “baby sitters,” but can become destructive. If you don’t have control over these actions in your child’s life, then you don’t have control. A little bit of these activities goes a long way, but excess leads to dissipation and waste of their time and talent.
Other foundational elements in training children include:
- Teach your children to love and honor God by your example.
- Take your children to church and go with them.
- Read the Bible and pray with them frequently at HOME.
- Establish a spiritual underpinning on which they can build a successful life.
- Teach your children to love and give to others.
Good parenting is hard work. Many parents take the easy road that leads to lack of discipline, compromise, and failure. Work hard and put forth the effort needed to train and teach children basic life discipline, respect, and hard work, and they will rise up when they are grown and BLESS YOU.
If you pray and ask God to give you wisdom and strength to train your children for His glory, you will be amazed how things can change in your home. God wants to encourage, bless you and bring order and structure out of disarray and chaos.