My views on child rearing in the faith have grown some in the last couple of years. I have gleaned some insight from some friends, blogs, and online ministries about walking by faith while still teaching our children who we believe and why. While we all may not agree with everything a person teaches about raising children in the faith, there are some things worth taking into consideration.
There are some things that I am more inclined to reject in raising my children for the Lord. While I don't want to stay too focused on what I don't believe in, I do want to share with you a few things I have come to no longer follow and why. Then I will share with you what I have accepted and continue to keep in mind each day as my family continues to grow.
1. I don't use cookie cutters. I don't think it's fair or wise to raise my children with a cookie cutter approach. There's some interesting books out there, but I don't follow their teachings religiously nor do I agree 100% with everything within the pages of those books.
2. I don't use scare tactics. I think kids have enough to worry about with the neighborhood bullies when they go outside to play than to put up with it inside their own home. I teach my children what consequences are and we are 'just' and fair with discipline and correction. I see better results in training than I do with any form of punishment.
Now for the fun stuff. (See I told you I wouldn't focus on the negative for long.)
1. I believe in making disciples. Disciple Like Jesus has some interesting approaches written on the ir site that I think is worthy of reading. You may or may not agree with some of what they present, but if you can handle reading it, gleaning from them, and taking what can work for your family, then I think you'll find some good stuff there. Raising my children to learn to walk this life in love makes all the difference.
2. I believe in teaching tolerance. I feel that Jesus was tolerant, he ate with gluttons and sinners. He is a friend to sinners. Don't misunderstand me. I don't think it's wise for children to hang out with the neighborhood bullies, smoke pot, or sneak into the neighbor's cigarettes. I'm not talking about that! What I am saying is that I feel it's important for my family to know that we need to be careful to not be too quick to judge people. Some of the sweetest adults I know, smoke cigars or chew tobacco. While I don't agree with those poor health choices, they love God and love others.
3. I believe I need to allow my children to really learn well. For us, this means that we don't hide certain topics of world history from our children. As they are in their younger years we teach them about different cultures and as they grow older, we begin allowing them to read about other religions. While we will naturally see the differences between those religions and our faith, we focus more on what the similarities are. I'll explain why in the next point.
4. Diplomacy. I believe our next generation needs to understand what being diplomatic is. My husband has an incredible knack for this. He's an evangelist that has been welcomed to preach in churches of various denominations. He knows how to avoid certain topics and knows which topics to keep focused on. He has taken the time to understand what each church believes and in doing so has been asked to come back and preach each year. If we are going to continue to share this beautiful earth with people of different faiths, then I feel it's important for our next generation to be able to communicate with people of various cultures and beliefs.
5. Be a guide. I think that being a guide is different from being a dictator. A dictator doesn't want anyone to think on their own two feet. A guide tells what they know to be true based on their own experience of their path, but allows people the freedom to explore as long as they understand how to explore safely. I think it's wise to let our children know if we chose a path that hurt us and caution them about that path. Our children know that we started off on an unhealthy path. We have never hid that from them. In being honest with them, they know the heartaches our past choices caused in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones. A wise guide teaches in such a way that a child can grow up in this world and be wise themselves and learn to explore this great life with adventure and enjoy their lives.
There's more I'd like to share, but perhaps another time. Enjoy the day with your children.
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