We continue our series on child training, based on interviews with godly second-generation Christians. If true happiness lies in serving Jesus, then that is the penultimate goal we have in our child training. As we look to those who have successfully raised young people who live for God, we wonder, “What did their parents do right to help turn them in the direction of serving the Lord?” Here is the most valuable weapon we have in protecting our children from the wiles of the Devil.
Other posts in this series can be found here.
Lacy was a shy middle-aged mom of two energetic children in a small rural town. When we talked, she spoke freely, knowing her words would be kept in confidence, but what she said sent chills up my spine: “We could talk to Mom about anything. She was always open, honest, and available. But if I tried to talk to Dad about anything, he always cut me off and said I should not talk like that. I guess I might have tried maybe four or five times, but when you get cut off like that, after a while you give up. At least, that’s what I did. I just never talked to my dad about anything after that.”
As she spoke, my mind was buzzing. At least her mother is a very strong person, and willing to do whatever it takes to keep her children’s hearts. I know her well.
Lacy’s story was not ideal, but at least she turned out to love and serve the Lord anyway. She knew she could confide in her mother, and knowing her mom, I feel she received excellent guidance as she was growing up. But, how much better could it have been if she could talk freely to both of her parents, I wonder?
One of the most potent weapons we have at our disposal as parents is having our child’s heart. “I think it’s very important for the parent to have the child’s heart, especially the mother,” a young mother, Jennifer explained. “The child knows he can go to Mom about anything, and if he’s willing to listen to what she has to say, it can really go a long way to enabling the parent to be able to help the child deal with situations correctly, and also encourages the child to be more apt to ask advice of the parent.”
How did successful parents keep their children’s hearts? There are three factors:
Making Home Happy – 82% of the people I talked to responded positively when I asked them if their childhood was happy. The parents worked hard to make home a happy place. Even serving the Lord was something the parents tried to make joyful!
Pulling Family Together – The Overcomers know that one of the most influential activities in their lives was the fact that their families did things together. Though their parents had opportunities to pursue their own individual activities (like watch TV, play computer games, or talk on the phone,) they often chose to invest that time in their children, reaping a tremendous return.
Learning to Be Approachable – During a particularly interesting interview, Shaunna and her husband, both Overcomers, took turns cuddling their newborn baby as they answered my questions. “When we were growing up,” Shaunna said, “we often had questions, and Dad didn’t seem to think that questioning was rebellion. He understood the spirit of questioning things; we just wanted to know how or why. And he was honest if he didn’t know the answer. His openness really helped me as I was growing up.”
In fact, 58% of our respondents agreed with Shaunna. Many of them said, “They were always available talk to me whenever I needed them!”
Jeff is a man of few words. His perception is as precise as his sniper bullets in the Special Forces. “I remember getting to a point where I was too big to spank,” he remarked. “That was about the time when I started to realize I didn’t want to disappoint my father. I think it was also the point at which my parents started to realize that too. I was around thirteen at the time, and I just still did what Mom and Dad wanted me to do, because I loved them and didn’t want to hurt them.
Leaning forward, Jeff lowered his voice and continued, “My dad wasn’t just a father…he was a friend.”
Herein is your primary offensive weapon: have your child’s heart, and he or she will never want to disappoint you.