It’s true, almost everyone loves their own children. After all, the Lord made them so precious, so sweet and beautiful! Even the hardest of hearts are touched by a child’s loving little hugs, kisses and warm smiles, which certainly brighten our lives and cause us to respond to them with love and affection also. But besides this natural affection that parents feel for their children, there is an even GREATER and more precious and lasting Love that we as Christians can give our children. A SUPERNATURAL Love that will help them to be truly happy, fulfilled and well-behaved: GOD’S LOVE in JESUS!
To explain more about how we give God’s Love to our children, we’d like to now share some practical, tried-and-proven ways of “training up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6), that have been a great help to us in raising our little ones. We hope that you will find these tips a help and blessing to you and YOUR children also!
FIRST AND FOREMOST: EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO RECEIVE JESUS, and the sooner the better! Receiving Jesus is so simple that even a TWO-YEAR-OLD can do it! It’s our RESPONSIBILITY as Christian parents to see to it that our children, WHATEVER age they are, come to know and receive the Lord and His wonderful Gift of Eternal Salvation!
You can constantly point a child towards the Lord, even from the time he’s born, just by your example and your love, even before he learns to talk, by talking to him about Jesus. As any parent will attest, you can hardly find anybody more sincere than a small child. We have found that two years old is an ideal age to actually lead your child to receive Christ, because that’s usually when he’s learned to talk and he understands the words you’re saying and he will be happy to follow you in a simple prayer.
If you have faithfully shown and taught your child WHO Jesus is (Children’s Picture Bibles are a great help for this), when you simply explain to your two-year old, “If you pray this little prayer now with Mommy (or Daddy), Jesus will come into your heart and save you,” your child will believe YOU, and he’ll believe in JESUS. If he’ll simply pray after you: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me for being bad. I believe You died for me to take my spanking for me. Please come into my heart and help me to be good and to love You!”, and Jesus WILL come in!
“VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT RECEIVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS A LITTLE CHILD, HE SHALL NOT ENTER THEREIN.” (MARK 10:15)
As long as any child or person, no matter WHAT age they are, simply believes and prays for Jesus to forgive him and come into his heart, Jesus surely WILL come in, just as surely as He has promised, “Ask and ye shall receive!” (Matthew 7:7). So lead your child to Jesus so he can be eternally saved, simply for the asking! There’s no greater gift of Love you could ever give your child than Eternal Life and Love in Jesus!
NEXT MOST IMPORTANT: FEED YOUR CHILD THE WORD OF GOD. What could be more valuable and vital and faith-building than feeding your children GOD’S OWN WORDS, giving them God’s answers to all of their questions and problems? “FAITH comes by hearing the Word of God!” (Romans 10:17). You can pass a knowledge of the Bible on to them by daily using Bible story books, Bible pictures and flannelgraphs, posters, readers, Bible-based songs and Scripture etc., and your children will soon be “ROOTED and BUILT UP in the Lord, ESTABLISHED in the FAITH!” (Colossians 2:6-8).
If you are faithful to give them the TRUTH, they won’t be fooled or deceived by this World’s false teachings or poisoned by the lies, violence and spiritual garbage found in so many books and on most TV programs! There will be no need for your child to wander around aimlessly searching for answers, Truth and satisfaction in life if you’ve directed him to GOD’S ANSWERS through His Own Word, the Bible!
We have found that just as we ADULTS need to read and feed on GOD’S WORD in order to GROW spiritually, so our children also must be fed the wonderful Word of God if they are to make spiritual progress. The WORD OF GOD is the MOST POWERFUL TRUTH on Earth and in God’s Word they can find the answer to EVERY question, EVERY problem that they will EVER have in life! If they know the Scriptures, they will have the answers for EVERYTHING!
“FROM A CHILD THOU HAST KNOWN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, WHICH ARE ABLE TO MAKE THEE WISE UNTO SALVATION THROUGH FAITH WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS.” (2TIMOTHY 3:15)
The BIBLE gives us God’s principles and standard to live by, and having learned the Scriptures while very young, your children will grow up with solid Christian convictions, knowing what GOD has said and promised in HIS WORD! This is the key to true happiness for everyone, children and adults alike: To know JESUS, and to know what GOD says right there in HIS WORD! Be faithful to give these to your child, and you’re BOUND to get good results!
INSPIRE YOUR CHILD TO DO GOOD BY GIVING HIM A PURPOSE IN LIFE! If you’ve led your child to JESUS and you make it a point to faithfully teach him GOD’S WORD, he will learn and understand that Jesus is his very BEST and closest Friend Who is with him ALL the time. As he learns how much JESUS loves HIM, and how much Jesus has DONE for him by dying for him, so he can have a wonderful life in HEAVEN, your child will soon learn to want to please the Lord and do what HE can for JESUS.
This is one of the greatest rewards Christian parents can receive: To see their child begin to do things for JESUS, to actually SERVE the LORD! If your child is taught that this is what he is here FOR, to love and please the Lord, then from a very early age he can start living a genuine Christian life by learning to be loving, kind and considerate to OTHERS, praying for his family, friends and playmates etc., as well as coming to the Lord in PRAYER when he personally needs help.
“I HAVE NO GREATER JOY THAN TO HEAR THAT MY CHILDREN WALK IN TRUTH.” (3JOHN 4)
If your child learns to really LOVE THE LORD, knows the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD and has a genuine desire to please and serve Him, he will have the personal CONVICTION to withstand the many temptations he will encounter in school and from Worldly children who don’t know the Lord. So it certainly PAYS to do your best to teach your child to “LOVE THE LORD with all thy heart, and to LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, STRIVE TO PROMOTE AN ATMOSPHERE OF HONEST, OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR CHILDREN. Encourage each child to feel free to honestly share what is on his heart with you. Of course, it’s very important to avoid reacting in a critical, condemning or condescending way to a child who is pouring out his heart, confessing a mistake or sharing a fear etc. If your child meets such a negative reaction from you, he will probably have second thoughts before sharing his heart with you next time.
We have found that “SPECIAL TIMES” of open-hearted discussions, combined with lots of loving embraces, greatly assures young children of our love and genuine concern, as we strive to intently listen to and understand them! Your child will never forget such special times spent with you. In most cases, these are the moments that WE treasured most when we were children: When our parents invested their love in the form of PERSONAL TIME and attention with us, just TALKING about things together.
“TO DO GOOD AND TO COMMUNICATE, FORGET NOT: FOR WITH SUCH SACRIFICES GOD IS WELL PLEASED.” (HEBREWS 13:16)
Of course, before we can expect our children to be honest with us, WE must be HONEST with THEM. It greatly encourages children to know that their parents are not exactly perfect. (Besides, you can be sure they’ve noticed!) By your own honest admission of YOUR mistakes and weaknesses, you are setting a good example for them of what HONESTY and HUMILITY are all about, and your children will love you the more for it!
As in any kind of honest communication, it can’t be emphasised enough how important it is to be a GOOD LISTENER to the one who is talking. A good, listening parent is not busy reading the newspaper or making a cup of tea while his or her child is pouring out his heart about the loss of a best friend, or communicating his innermost worries and fears. As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is our sincere INTEREST in them and their problems, as manifested by our UNDIVIDED ATTENTION and uninterrupted LISTENING whenever possible.
By the act of simply LISTENING, you are telling your child: “I want to understand and help you. I think you are WORTH listening to, and I want you to know that I have FAITH in you. You can always TALK to me because I LOVE you.”
ASK QUESTIONS. (Kids shouldn’t be the only inquisitive party!) When genuinely communicating with children–or with anyone for that matter–asking questions helps to draw them out and shows your concern and interest in them. Get THEM to talk.
And when they are asking YOU the questions, be careful not to philosophise or pretend to be something you’re not. Just stay SIMPLE! And don’t offer any advice that you wouldn’t want to practically apply yourself.
LEARN TO PRESENT YOUR ADVICE OR ANSWERS IN WAYS THAT ARE EASY FOR THEM TO ACCEPT. MAKE IT “EASY FOR THEM TO BE GOOD” by allowing them to think that it’s at least partly THEIR idea too. For example, “I liked your comment on needing to change things a bit. Let’s try your idea!”, or “What do you think about trying this idea?”, or, “Haven’t you found that this works better?”
WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG, IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO BE TOO QUICK TO JUDGE A MATTER. There are always at least TWO SIDES to every story, and it helps greatly to hear ALL SIDES from all those who are involved. Most of us have made the grave mistake of making a snap judgement or acting impulsively, resulting in a child being unjustly accused and deeply hurt. A mother could hear a crash in the room, and run in to find her young daughter in tears beside a shattered vase on the floor. To immediately whack the child with no explanation adds insult to injury, when by merely asking what happened first, the child could explain that she was attempting to stop the cat from climbing on the table, trying to shoo it away, when the CAT knocked the vase over, not she!
Remember, as Christian parents, we are trying to establish our child’s CONFIDENCE in both the Lord and ourselves. Jesus forgives US in love, and, thank God, does not spank us for every mistake or sin we commit. Likewise, we should forgive our children and be as fair and merciful with them as possible. But by continually passing quick harsh judgement on them, our children could easily lose such trust and confidence in us. And could wind up being AFRAID to confide in you and confess things that they really ARE guilty of or need help with!
And that’s another point: NEVER LOSE FAITH IN YOUR CHILDREN! If you can’t determine what’s right or wrong when a child claims innocence in some situation, and there’s no way to prove otherwise, it is almost always the wisest thing to let it pass, rather than risk punishing or judging unjustly for something. Try taking your child’s word for it! Such love will prove your faith in them and will inspire them not to disappoint your trust. Showing a child that you TRUST and BELIEVE in him shows him that you LOVE him.
TRY PUTTING YOURSELF IN YOUR CHILD’S PLACE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. This will give you a much better understanding of him. Make it a habit to try to see things through THEIR eyes and understanding. Ask yourself, “What if this were I? How would I want to be treated in this situation if I were in his shoes? If I were only 5 years old and were the one being laughed at by the adults, how would I feel?”
What may seem cute or funny to US, may be very embarrassing and humiliating to a CHILD. Most of us know what it’s like to be embarrassed, hurt or slighted by others. Realising that such unpleasant experiences can be much more traumatic and painful to a small inexperienced child should cause us to do our best to spare them from such incidents.
“THEREFORE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER YE WOULD THAT MEN SHOULD DO TO YOU, DO YE EVEN SO TO THEM!” (MATTHEW 7:12)
By putting yourself in as close a situation as you can think of to your CHILD’S situation, imagining how YOU would feel, you will gain a much better understanding of him and his feelings.
TRY TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. Not of some kind of a perfect, sinless saint which your child may feel he could never measure up to, but of an honest, happy, humble example of a friend and loving parent, someone whom kids can look up to and trust. YOU have to try to be what you want your CHILDREN to be.
“THOSE THINGS WHICH YE HAVE BOTH LEARNED, AND RECEIVED, AND HEARD, AND SEEN IN ME, DO: AND THE GOD OF PEACE SHALL BE WITH YOU.” (PHILIPPIANS 4:9)
Children are great mimics, and this is largely how they learn, by imitation. Children seldom forget what they SEE. They go more by what they SEE than by what they HEAR, more by your ACTIONS than just your WORDS. Children will learn more from your ACTIONS and even your ATTITUDES than they will from what you SAY! THINK of what you would like to be in the eyes of your child and BE that parent!
Likewise, if you need to leave your child in the care of SOMEONE ELSE, you should do your best to find someone who will be the kind of GODLY EXAMPLE that you would want your CHILD to follow. As a parent, YOU are responsible to make SURE that your child is left in good TRUSTWORTHY HANDS when you are not with him. So it’s important that you have good honest communication with those who help care for your little ones, and that they understand and agree to uphold the CHRISTIAN principles and guidelines which you follow.
It’s also very important to try to reach and relate to children on THEIR OWN level, and not expect TOO MUCH of them. After all, a child is a child. But if you make an effort to make your lessons easily understood, so they can easily be learned by your child–you’ll be surprised at how quickly your child will learn and grow!
LOVE IS ALSO DISCIPLINE. Children are happiest when they know the boundaries and limitations that adults have set for them, not when they are totally free to go wild, and thus end up in big trouble! A spoiled and demanding child becomes a spoiled and demanding adult, so the importance of teaching a young child obedience, submission, yieldedness and unselfishness is evident. Failure to instill these virtues in a child will result in his failure in these same areas later on in school, business and the social world.
It’s best to start when your children are quite young, and practice consistent, loving discipline by setting limits and boundaries for them to follow for their own good. There’s never been a child yet who didn’t need it, because, as the Bible says, “We are ALL sinners”. (Romans 3:23). Parents need to make it very clear exactly what the rules are, and one of the best methods of establishing the rules is to get the children to help make them, or at least to agree to them with you.
The best kind of so-called punishment should be what the Bible calls “chastening”, which literally means “CHILD-TRAINING”, something that will TEACH them something, train them and help them to learn the lesson so they’ll not want to make the same mistake again. Of course, to win and lovingly PERSUADE children to obey out of LOVE may seem to take a lot of time and patience, but they’ll turn out to be far better children and much more obedient in the long run if they are persuaded to OBEY through LOVE, rather than by trying to break their will and FORCE them to obey merely for FEAR of punishment.
This is another reason why it’s so important to first of all lead your children to JESUS and fill them with HIS WORD, because a child who loves the Lord will WANT to obey his parents out of LOVE for you and JESUS.
Discipline is a form of Love that is very, very Scriptural. Even God Himself disciplines His children when they need it! He says, “Whom the Lord LOVES He CHASTENS, and disciplines every son whom He receives!” (Hebrews 12:6). In learning obedience and submission to their ELDERS, our children receive and see a visible example of their own relationship with the LORD. Children who benefit from such Scriptural training grow to be happier and better behaved individuals.
“FOOLISHNESS IS BOUND IN THE HEART OF A CHILD; BUT THE ROD OF CORRECTION SHALL DRIVE IT FAR FROM HIM. THE ROD AND REPROOF BRING WISDOM: BUT A CHILD LEFT TO HIMSELF BRINGETH HIS MOTHER TO SHAME.” (PROVERBS 22:15; 29:15)
Earthly parents are an EXAMPLE, a picture, to a child of how GOD, our HEAVENLY FATHER, is with US, HIS children. If a child learns good Godly disciplinary standards of behaviour when YOUNG, he’ll find it much easier to submit to the LORD as he grows up and eventually is on his own.
Even if it hurts you, the parent, to have to sometimes spank or punish your child, you’ll benefit from obeying this Scriptural commandment, and be rewarded by seeing your child’s improved behaviour.
PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT ARE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF CHILD TRAINING. Be generous with praise and APPRECIATE your child’s good intentions and strong points. For example, if your son makes a failing grade on his school work, you can still find something to commend him for, his neat handwriting, perhaps. There’s always SOME good to be praised and appreciated.
“FINALLY, BRETHREN, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE TRUE, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE HONEST, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE JUST, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE PURE, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE LOVELY, WHATSOEVER THINGS ARE OF GOOD REPORT; IF THERE BE ANY VIRTUE, AND IF THERE BE ANY PRAISE, THINK ON THESE THINGS.” (PHILIPPIANS 4:8)
All children thrive on praise. It’s more important to PRAISE a child for his GOOD deeds and his good behaviour than it is to SCOLD him for his BAD behaviour. Try to always accentuate the POSITIVE!
Of course, it’s important when giving praise and appreciation to remain HONEST and SINCERE, and it must relate to him or her. For example, YOU may consider your pre-teen daughter to be beautiful, but if she perhaps doesn’t compare favourably to many others her age, in spite of YOUR opinion and feeling on the matter, she could think that you are being insincere or falsely flattering if you are constantly telling her how beautiful she is. So why not commend her in some OTHER positive area in which she excels and shines: Her eloquence of speech or her good grades or her loving, sweet character and spirit–which the Bible says is one of the most beautiful virtues a woman can have. “The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price.” (1Peter 3:4).
Be outspoken with praise for your children. Just about everyone loves kids, but it’s extremely important that the children know this by hearing you SAY it and seeing you SHOW it.
CONCLUSION: All these suggestions and pointers are ways to put LOVE into ACTION! Love is not “real” or practically applied without a living EXAMPLE by you and me, today’s parents who are molding the future! The World of tomorrow is what the mothers and fathers of today make it, according to the way we raise our children!
So try LOVE, it NEVER fails! Do you show YOUR children the genuine Love of JESUS? Will they grow up learning to love the Lord and share His Love with others? God BLESS and help you to be a loving parent and example to your little ones! We LOVE you!
Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International