Children are our most valuable treasure – a gift from God. With that gift comes the responsibility to love, enjoy, teach and train them.
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There are three important ways that children learn in the home:
1. Planned, on purpose, teaching. (II Timothy 3:14,15)
There are many things that every child should be taught about. Many of these are things they won’t just learn on their own. If we don’t teach them, who will?
Here are just a few of the things that are very important to teach:
- Bible principles
- The value of work
- Purity of mind and body
Many of these are character qualities; the others relate to building their faith, and teaching them God’s Word. We need to have a set time daily when we teach our kids God’s Word, and teach them about Godly character.
We never teach our kids to lie or be mean; those things just come naturally to them, due to their sinful nature. Godly character, on the other hand, is something they have to be taught.
Then we have to pray for them and with them, that they will develop those character qualities and become more like Christ. Not only should we teach them, but we also need to train them, and practice right behavior.
2. Teaching by personal example.
Our children learn MUCH more by what we DO, than by what we SAY. They notice things, and watch our actions, attitudes, and responses.
In order to build their faith, we need to be an example in several areas:
1. Our relationship to the Lord
Our kids need to see us praying, and reading our Bible. They should see us trusting God when we don’t understand, or when we have needs. If we pray for God to supply, but then fret and worry, our kids aren’t going to have faith. They are going to wonder if they really can trust God, because our example says something different than our words.
2. Our relationship to our spouse
The best way to prepare our children for a happy marriage is to love your husband, and show him the respect and honor he deserves. Your kids will pick up on that, and will also respect him.
3. Our relationship to others.
The greatest commandment in the Bible is to love God; the second greatest command is to love others. Again, this doesn’t come naturally! We are prone to putting ourselves and our needs or wants first, rather than loving others.
The home is a wonderful training ground for teaching your kids to love others. First, their siblings! But we should also set an example for them of loving others. If someone hurts you or is unkind, show love in return; pray for them; do something to bless them. This will teach your children far more than your words ever can teach!
Also, reach out and minister to others in need, and let the kids help. For example, let them help you prepare a meal for someone who has just come home from the hospital, or had a new baby. Be helpful to that elderly neighbor, and get your kids involved in serving them when there is a need they can meet. (mowing their lawn, shoveling their drive, cleaning the house for them, etc.)
3. Teaching by environment.
What is the environment in your home like? Is there a spirit of peace and joy? If someone who didn’t know you were a Christian came to your home for a visit, would they be able to tell you were Christians by your actions and words? Would they see signs of your love for God by verses of Scripture on the wall, or an open Bible on the table? Your kids will learn from that environment.
They should learn the importance of God’s Word by seeing you daily reading your Bible. When there’s conflict, they should be taught to go to God’s Word for answers. Rules should be based on what is pleasing to the Lord.
What kind of reading materials are in your home? What kind of music do you listen to? What is being watched on TV? Is going to church to hear the preaching of God’s Word a regular thing in your home?
Our kids are influenced by all these choices/actions, and they will make a difference in how your children see things.
Not only should there be the spiritual activities in the home, but we should also make our homes fun! Play games together, laugh together, and have a good time as a family. Christians should be known for their joy. If we are sour-faced and grumpy, and the atmosphere of the home isn’t happy, what is that environment going to teach our children?
Our children are always learning in these 3 ways, whether we mean for them to or not. They learn by what we choose to teach on purpose, or neglect to teach, they learn from our example, and they learn from our home environment.
My prayer is that I will stay aware of this, and that God will use me to teach my children in the way He has planned.