If you've ever read my blog, you know I have two children, a 3 year old and an 8 month old. For this reason, I chose the chapters I did in this book study.
Chapters 14 and 15 focus on Infancy to Childhood, the stage I am obviously currently parenting.
As the author notes, this is one of the most amazing and dynamic periods of a child's life. It can be defined by one simple word: CHANGE!
What DOESN'T change about your child in this short time? Infancy flies by, quickly replaced by babyhood, toddling toddlers, and before you know it..children! What better and more influential time will be presented to you to begin shaping your children and indeed shepherding their hearts to the Lord?
While we teach our children to walk, eat, and speak, Ephesians 6:1-3 reminds us of the most important lesson God requires of us as parents.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother-which is the first commandment with a promise-so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV)
So what is it God is calling us to do with our little ones? Teach them to obey authority…God's authority. The way in which they can accomplish this is through honor and obedience to US, their shepherds.
My favorite take-away lesson from this book was the author's referral to a “circle of blessing.”
Honor and obedience of one's parents keeps a child within this circle of blessing and they are rewarded for their time within it. The circle is a place of safety and any ventures outside this circle are to be treated as moments of immenent peril in the child's life, calling the parents to rescue them and restore them to the circle. We can even use this circle to explain our discipline choices to our child. Drawing this circle, explaining the choices and actions that keep them within the circle, and those that cause them to stray from it can simplify for them some often complex feelings associated with their punishment.
Sounds simple, but how are we to keep our children, especially this young, inside this magical circle?
Through consistency and by example! Easy enough, right? Every parenting book I have ever read has stressed the importance of consistency during the youngest stages of a child's life. From bedtime routines, to discipline experts and their advice, consistency is key.
It isn't easy, it can be downright exhausting, but we are not only making our own lives easier in the long run, but also restoring the child to God..what's more important than that?
Get ready for the kicker…we must also teach by example. No one likes a hypocrite, and no one will call you out on it faster than your own child.
As women, mothers, and wives we are called to honor and obey as well…our husbands. (Remember that? Oh yeahhhhh…) While our children may watch us obey our boss or that police officer that pulled us over when we were certainly NOT speeding to Gymboree class, the most important teaching moments will come from home.
Our unwavering submission to our husband's and God's authority reinforces the very same values we hope to instill in our children as we teach them to know and love God. So challenge yourselves mommies to pray for your husband, hold your tongue (even when you think you know better) and show him the respect he deserves, especially in front of your kids. Start now, start young!
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)