Raising Clean Kids In A Dirty World

Last Sunday evening I was able to speak to parents who had children in the music presentation briefly about the challenge to raise “clean kids in a dirty world.” The writer in Proverbs said, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We have to remember that no matter what is going on in the world someone is going to help your kids establish their values. So the question is, if not you, then who?

Read further if you would like to learn more about the challenge and find out five suggestions I made to parents.

Did you know the average kid on America watches television more than 1,000 hours a year? Actually that is very conservative at about twenty hours a week. By the time they leave home they will have watched 18,000 hours of television. If they live to be 65 they will have spent nine years of their lives in front of the television.

Take it further, let’s say you have a good home and take your kids to S.S. every Sunday and they keep going every Sunday until 65, they will have spent four months in Bible study. What’s the difference, nine years or four months? Which likely had more influence?

We live in a world where policemen, fireman, teachers and lots of others who serve our lives and protect our families are underpaid while sports heroes and entertainment figures are rewarded with money and fame almost without regards to any kind of values or behavior standards.

So what does a parent do in helping their children fine the right path in life? Let me offer five suggestions. There are no magic answers, just principles. These won’t work unless we work them.

First, remember your child is a gift from God. If you want to survive parenthood remember that your child or children are worth the struggle and are a gift from God even if they sometimes act like the devil. Also don’t forget, one day all parents will give an account of their efforts to the Lord.

Second, give your child unconditional love. Deal with your child as God, your heavenly father, deals with you, that is with patience, grace and unconditional love. Never allow your child to think that your love is conditional to his behavior.

Third, establish clear boundaries. What do you do when you are in parking lot, crossing the street or taking your child to the zoo? You make sure they know the lanes to walk in which are safe. You are not nagging but rather teaching them about freedom. You are taking raw potential in your hands and in 18 or 20 years handing that boy or girl to someone else and to society to make or break other people’s lives. Ultimately, they answer to God for that life.

Fourth, practice consistent discipline. If anyone tells you this is easy or they always succeed, question their truthfulness. Keep in mind there is a difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment is to inflict a penalty and is sometimes appropriate. Children need to learn there is a penalty for doing something wrong as long as the punishment is appropriate to the age and event. Discipline is the other side of the coin. Discipline builds you up to face life. It is intended to promote growth. Every parent needs to know the difference in paying a price and promoting growth through wise decisions. Punishment focuses on the past. Discipline focuses on the future. Discipline is about love. It encourages security. It is positive.

Someone said, “The time to start correcting the children is before they start correcting you.”

Finally, create a thirst for the right things. Children learn from what they see. The best parenting is modeling, teaching, and encouraging. We have to remember that no toy every loves a child. No game is going to answer to God for his or her welfare.

Sometime that verse in Proverbs is taken as a guarantee that if we are good parents we will always produce good children. That is not what this verse says. So what does it say?

A paraphrase might read something like this, “Adapt the training of your child so that it is in keeping with his God-given characteristics and tendencies; when he comes to maturity, he will not depart from the training he has received.”

Every child has natural bents, both good and bad, these are the basic tendencies unique to this child. You might be surprised to learn that the root word of “train up” in the Hebrew is a word used to describe the palate or the roof of the mouth. It was used to describe the actions of a Hebrew mid-wife who after helping to deliver a baby would dip her finger in a paste made of dates and rub it on the gums of the new baby to create thirst and start the baby’s feeding instinct. When you “train up” a child, you are creating a hunger and thirst for the right things in life.

What you are doing as parents is not unlike launching a rocket based on a trajectory. Once the motors are fired up you can’t take it back. You have to trust the trajectory chosen and the internal power. Your job is to do the best you can setting a good course in life and fuel it with love.

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