"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."--Deuteronomy 6:7 It's been so long since I've been a kid myself (haha!) that it is easy for me to
forget how little I once knew. When I had our first baby, I was in for a shock. I had worked with babies before but they were not newborn! No one told me how floppy they were! But common sense, fortunately, helped me to see that even something as simple as holding up the head was something my children needed help with.
As my kids have gotten older, they have predictably followed a pattern of growth. First they developed the physical strength and skills they needed to not only hold their heads up, but also flip over, crawl, eat, walk and communicate. Later, the skills became more complex as they learn to identify objects, attach words to them, and link those words into simple sentences.
Then their little minds start going into full gear, making connections and discovering new concepts. Their brains begin to start mastering their ABCs, connecting them with sounds, and translating what they see on a page into words. I love seeing the light bulb go on when they finally start reading and comprehending the words on the page, tracking along with the story line and laughing! (Can you see why I love homeschooling?) I don't even have time to talk about how children learn how to write and express their thoughts with words, how to apply God's Word into their daily circumstances, and how to make decisions that affect their future.
Every step of the way, they are looking to me, to us, for guidance and help. Yes, they are learning at a tremendous pace. They manage to figure out a lot on their own. However, as a parent, one of the greatest gifts I can give them is the gift of guidance, sharing with them what I too once learned when I was their age.
Some of these lessons I have had to learn the hard way, by trial and error. Some of these lessons I learned from my parents or teachers. But God has given us these gifts through experience or through people who influenced us so that we can pass them on to the next generation. I just have to remember that as I had to learn these things, so do my children. It is one of the greatest privileges I have as a parent, to be able to steward what God has given me to help my children as they grow up and find their way around this world we live in.
So, how can I give the gift of guidance? I can:
Teach them how to think.
Sometimes our children need to struggle a little and wrestle with the things that challenge them. My tendency is to jump in and give them the answers, but if I keep doing this, I end up robbing them of opportunities to make those discoveries on their own. My gift is being able to nudge them towards the right direction without giving them all the answers or doing everything for them...and cheering them on all the way.
Help them to grow in the Truth and how to apply it into their lives.
Some things kids just need us to teach them methodically and directly. As sinners, learning how to walk in the Lord's truth is something that doesn't happen naturally. There may be times when trial and error may not be the best thing to do. As they grow, I cannot make those decisions for them, but as a mother, I can certainly show them how God's truth intersects with their life circumstances and describe the choices before them. Then I pray that the Lord will be their ultimate Guide in making those decisions.
Instruct them in basic life skills and manners.
Like I mentioned earlier, I need to remember that what is obvious to me isn't always obvious to them. Even though I have been showering on my own for years, I need to remember that I had to be taught how to do it. Unless I want to give them a bath for the rest of their lives (I hope not!), somewhere down the line, I need to take the time to show them how to do it. Little by little, as they get the hang of it, I let go until they are able to do it on their own. What are some things that your children may need you to help them learn? From "little" things like tying their own shoes to cooking dinner for the family, the time we invest in equipping them will pay off.
Manners is another one of those things that we need to help our children grow in, not just so that we don't look bad in public (though that is highly motivating!), but so that they will be able to get along with others and be a godly testimony to others. However, this isn't something that most kids know intuitively. We tend to be a very egocentric race (even as an adult!), so this is an area that they will need our guidance in as well.
We can either do everything for our kids or use what we know to help them to start mastering life on their own. What are some things you can guide your kids in today?