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November 17, 2007

How To Raise a Moral Child

Since we are going through our parenting course again this year, I thought I might try to give little tid-bits throughout the course. This week we discussed our goal as parents should not be to have our kids morally 'looking good' on the outside, but that we would train them also to be moral on the inside. The question often is asked, 'So and so had Christian parents, was brought up in the church, went to Sunday School, Youth and attended all the church activities, why did they rebel when they left home?' Well this course teaches, and we believe also, that these children were taught how to act moral on the outside but were not taught to process why they believe what they believe. They are not taught to think outside themselves and to the preciousness of others. They know moral action, but they do not know moral principle. They became moral robots. Moral training begins with us as parents. If we don't know why we believe what we believe, why we do what we do, how can we teach our children? If the principles of moral conduct are not in our heart as parents, we will not be able to train our children in them. Too many times we give our children parental instruction without giving them the moral reason why. eg. Little Timmy is in the store and he is moving the price tags around on the shelves. His mom tells him to stop doing that OR ELSE! Next time they go to the store Timmy does the same thing again. She tells him to stop OR ELSE again. Next time, same thing. What has happened? Timmy's mother has trained his outward behavior, he stops because he know the "OR ELSE" will not be a pleasant experience. But what his mother has failed to do was provide him with the moral reason why. She should have said something like this, "Timmy, when you move the price tags around, the people who come behind us will not know what the price of the groceries are, because you have mixed them all up." Right away she attatched a moral to her command. At home he was taught the preciousness of others. Next time Timmy comes to the store, he has a deeper reason not to move the price tags, and if his mother happens not to be arouind one time, he will know what to do, because it is not just his outward behaviour that was trained, he will have a moral reason in his heart. When you train your children to be moral on the inside you give them a tool with which to decide what is right and wrong. You move them beyond just 'yes' and 'no' and they begin to understand the 'whys'. But too often parents are more concerned about suppressing evil in their children than elevating good. This is not saying that there is a moral reason for everything we tell our children to do. There is nothing moral about brushing your teeth, it is practical. As a general rule, situations concerning people require a moral reason where as situations concerning things requires a practical reason why. But with this comes a warning, that parents do not need to provide an explanation on demand, there are also times the reason will be just because "I said so". This is especiallly true in the toddler years. So as parents we need to study and know God's morals that He teaches us in the Bible. His word is absolute and teaches us the why's. eg. Phil. 2:14-15 says, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Here is given the command and the why, so that we may be a light shining. In order to teach our children God's morals, we need to know them ourselves. But we need to be careful not to become legalistic, remembering to put things into context. Not to be black and white. eg. Your children may not be allowed to run after church in respect to the people that are there, but what about when people are not? We need to see the context of the moment. If no one is around, maybe it is okay to run in church? Context will help you to avoid becoming a legalistic parent. So my challenge to you is, when you read the Bible, read it thinking about God's moral laws and the reason why. To train your child how to think morally you must think in accordance with biblical values. This thinking is crucial in the process of raising a morallly responsible child.

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