Excerpts from How to Raise Godly Children
Chapter 8 of The History of the Love of God, Volume III - God-Fearing Families
The Heart of a Child
The heart of a newborn is a clean slate. The Bible tells us to raise up a child in the way that they should go and they will not depart from it. A child’s heart is made by the Lord, and God will program certain tendencies. However, it starts out fresh and clean and capable of accepting the influence of all types of impressions and inputs. Since the composition of a child’s heart is such that it can accept the influences of both the good and the bad—the righteous and the evil—it is the responsibility of the father and the mother to incline the heart of the child either to good or to evil. This is an incredible responsibility.
Appropriately, God causes the child to only have eyes for the father and mother for quite some time. God programs the heart of a child to follow the parent. This gives the parent or grandparent all the advantage, power, tools, clout, authority and influence they need in the formative preschool years. The parent, first and foremost, must be devoted to God themselves. Then they must be attentive to every word, action, interaction and deed of the child. This attentiveness is most important in the formative first three or four years of the child’s life. A parent should make this attentiveness their top priority and understand that this precious soul from the Heavens has been put into their hands to guide to eternal life. Forming their own genuine relationship with God that is humble, prideless and adoring, and then passing this down to their children is the beginning and the end of parenting, and especially concentrating on the oldest child. If you take the oldest one and help that child to do what is right, the rest will follow. Emphasizing family adoration and worship of God and praying to God is key.
As You Walk Along the Road…
May you fulfill the will of the Father as described in Deuteronomy 6 by talking about God when you are coming and going—in your home and in your car, at bedtime and at mealtime—and this does take time. If you have been blessed by having children, then you must understand that you have taken on a great responsibility, and you must let your old life go. The goal in God’s True Church is to raise children to be like Christ, who loved The Father above all, as Jesus said in John 14:31, But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
Meet the Needs
The parent should be very careful to meet the needs of the infant, and this is especially true in the first year of life. The goal is to have a parent so attentive that the need is met even before the baby cries…not paying attention to a baby’s whimper is tuning out someone else’s needs. Know your baby’s whimpers! Try to anticipate needs of hunger, cold, sleepiness, the need for attention and love and the need to learn and be curious. Meet their needs in love. Feed babies on demand. And remember that the need to be taught is often overlooked. Babies love to learn, and they love it when the parent will tell them names of objects or show them their mouth and teach them words. They adore it! Learn to whisper in their ears to let them know what you are doing or what you expect. The attachment will be incredible. Know your baby’s vocabulary and their body language. Babies are attached to those who know what they are trying to communicate. A calm, happy, secure child is the one whose needs are met.
Treat babies and children kindly. Kindness begets kindness. If we are kind to our children, they in turn will show kindness to others. Jesus was attentive and kind to children—even when he was carrying out his job responsibilities of preaching and evangelism.He met their needs under all circumstances. He knew of the supreme importance of a child. Babies are very perceptive, and they respond to love and to those who are not selfish but attentive to their needs. Children will gravitate to those who are gentle and who whisper sweet, guiding words. They know who will pay attention and who will show them kindness.
When the parent feels that the child is able to discern between the good and the bad, then a more concentrated nurturing of the child should begin. The word “no” can be used to teach danger—such as “No, hot,” or “This will hurt the baby.” You can whisper this in their ear. Do not be loud or harsh, and do not scare them.
By this point, you have spent so much time and attention on your baby in just meeting their needs that a deep bond has been created—they trust you and trust that you know what they want. So much of what is needed is just lovingly sweeping them up into your arms and sitting down on the floor with them, so they know you are not going anywhere—then putting your arms around them, telling them how much you love them, getting down on their level, playing with them and really listening.
These early years are strategic, and it is best to make it top priority before housework or socializing with friends. Fathers and mothers need to stay near their children and lovingly teach all they can. These little children adore you, and they want to be like you. Time is so important. Do not spend more attention on clothes or the outside appearance of a child than you do on the insideof a child. This is a soul that will live forever, a spirit that is preparing for eternal life, and nothing else matters.
As you spend time with your children, you learn all about them, and you see that every child is different. This is a golden opportunity to make sure your main goal is for your child to develop a relationship with God. There is no harshness in God nor Jesus Christ. There is only gentleness. Think about it: the discipline that God has given you has been extremely gentle. He has not disciplined you as your sins deserve. Have you not gotten away with a lot with God? I know we all have! He is so long-suffering and incredibly gentle, and you want your children to have those characteristics. To do that, they need to see these characteristics in you as you live that out. Then the children will be calm and long-suffering and gentle with each other as well.
How you handle issues must be for the child’s good. This is not about the praise of man, but the praise of the Most High, glorious and brilliantly-loving God. Time and gentleness are the keys.
Praise and Encouragement
Whenever the child displays a good quality or does a praiseworthy action, the parents should praise the child. Make note of even small progressions—celebrate, clap your hands, and reward and praise your child as appropriate. Positive reinforcement is fundamental and essential at all times. You cannot leave that out on any day. After all, God has used that so generously with you!
A key component of parenting is answered prayers. Again, this is huge. You must take time to sit down with your children, write down their prayers, and then follow up later so they will see that their prayer has been answered. This should be a constant part of your lives. Help them to see that the gadget that did not work was fixed, that the missing toy was found, or that they were able to get the answer to a tough homework assignment. If they stop and pray, then it gets done! Sit down with them and pray, “Oh, God, make me the one who is loving today.” The answered prayers that these children in the Remnant of the Kingdom of Love are receiving are unbelievable. I am the most excited with my children and grandchildren when they have answered prayers and want to share that with me. We have this beautiful opportunity to get it right ourselves with God, and then teach our children the value of a relationship with God and receiving answered prayers.
Responsibilities of a Child
As the child begins to get older and can learn to do some small tasks, spend time teaching the child responsibility. Stay by their side in a helpful way as you teach them how to do things, but do not frustrate the child. They will gain faith in their abilities to perform tasks. Praise them for what they learn. It is beautiful to give them chores in line with their age. Let them know that they are performing an important function, and you will find them eager to help you out again!
Goals for School-Aged Children
During pre-teen years, children will go thru a needy time where they crave their parents’ attention two or three times as much as they did before. Ask every day how their day was, and ask if there is anything they need. Pray on your knees with them daily, especially at that age. If you are not totally focused on them, they will have to do something to rattle you to get your attention. You cannot go wrong giving them more and more attention. They need you. They have so many questions. Use this phase as an opportunity to make up for any lost time. Keep a list of the positives about that child. Encourage them, and start all redirection with the positives.
Once you have set the stage for a beautiful relationship with the child and a relationship between the child and their Heavenly Father, they will have a solid foundation for school. School can be inside or outside the home. School-aged children should have a balance of play, exercise and studies. Too much of any one thing will dishearten the child. The relationship between you and the child will grow with each year. Every day be sure to spend time with your children and find out what is in their hearts. Pray with them…guide them…love them. Life is painful sometimes, but children who have secure relationships with their parents will be secure children.
Take Time with Them
Spend time with your children and love them. Have them focus on Jesus Christ who loved the Father above all. Jesus Christ was humble. Encourage loyalty, faithfulness, truthfulness, honor and courage. There is no greater joy than seeing your children walking in the Truth. Raising a child is a big responsibility given to us from God, but it is also a golden opportunity. If you are selfless, you see it as an enjoyable opportunity, second to none. A selfless parent jumps to take care of the child. Be involved with your children. What could be a better hobby, preoccupation, or legacy than training children up from young to old to help them find this relationship with God and the peace that results from it.
When getting to know the Creator as a family, you cannot do it if you leave out His Creation, so take time to share in what God is doing with the seasons and to learn about His animals and the world He made. You can make everything a lesson to learn about what God has designed and to point out His love and His incredible details. The beauty of the world says so much about God. It all reflects who He is. You are accomplishing the number one goal in life, and that is knowing God and helping your children to know God as well. Ultimately, God will be the One who gets the credit for the beautiful behavior of a child because you cannot raise a child without Him. He is the best Father of all.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” Matthew 19:13-15 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. III John 1:4
Copyright 2017 Remnant Fellowship, Gwen Shamblin Lara and WeighDown