Most people who are parents are parents by happenstance and are functioning without a view of living well with their children.
Most parents don’t really feel like ‘doing’ parenting. It is honestly too much work and they have no vision for it. They spend their days being reactive rather than proactive, enacting a sequence of corralling activities in hopes of keeping the children at bay and out of the way as much as possible. Parents treat children as wind up tops who need no input unless they spin out of control and get caught under the kitchen stove, or bang into each other over and over again. They go about their business. When things become too much for them up handle (often with older children), parents will seek help. Yet they fail to see that they wound the string to begin with. They fail to see that they lived life without their children. They fail to see that their flesh, like the law of entropy, led them away from the difficulty of parenting, or else that their own agenda was simply more important. They squander both the obligation and the opportunity of their role as parents… the opportunity to live life with their children, building both goodwill and functionality, as well as a foundation for discipleship. Sadly, the satisfaction and joy of the true work of parenting is utterly lost on most parents! And also the fruit is lost.
Training and guiding little ones should take up a majority of our thought life and intents for the day. As a primary obligation, it takes both creativity and focus. The things we should be training our children in, on a daily basis, include…
How to restrain their flesh and practice self-discipline in the face of consequences.
This means the child is a free will agent, not a top spinning out of control. As a free will agent they should be allowed to have consequences that allow choice between following the flesh and practicing restraint. A young child practiced daily in choosing to restrain their flesh will not be a child who will go into another person’s house or barn and pulls down the manure fork and climbs into the loft or pulls all the paper and supplies out of an office. They are blessed and restrained – though not crushed, children. They simply have some measure of self-restraint in the face of a world of “desirable stuff.” This goes very far in life!
How to do actual, practical things.
Children need to be needed. An 11 year old boy needs to be an integral, manly part of the house, appreciated for carrying, working, and stacking loads. An 11 year old girl needs to be a little momma, with loving charges adoring her and needing her. These are simplistic examples but representative of much, and they are also principles which become elaborated upon quickly when put into practice for years in a large family. In our house the children can be put in charge of the entire household, figuring out who will care for the little ones while the rest kill, scald, scrape, gut and hang a pig. They can hunt their own deer and manage the whole process. They can hand milk the cow, telling stories and singing songs all the way. They are tremendous fun to be around and watch!
Taking advantage of opportune moments to teach, guide, play together.
How to value the privilege of caretaking a home.
Do you manifest, momma, that God has given you a homemaking charge and you love it? They will all have a charge one day and will learn attitude in their charge from you. Many of them will be in charge of a home. But whatever they work at, you have an amazing opportunity to show them what it is to do your work heartily, as unto the Lord!
How to be joyful.
How to value a spouse.
How to be thankful.
The pleasure of caretaking each other as siblings, which leads to goodwill and fellowship between them, as well as far less workload for momma. There could be a short book on how to make this happen, but it is summed up in example and giving them opportunities to DO things for each other.
… and the list goes on and on.
Each thing that we do, when we are parents, must take into account their instruction as well. They must be allowed to do what they are good at and enjoy (whether it is a 2 year old unloading silverware or a 12 year old splitting kindling), and they must be involved. THEY DESIRE TO BE PART OF YOUR LIFE. Make it so, at each stage of life, and do it before they lose interest. Make the investment mother… and father! You will not regret it. Children also desire the restraints that makes it possible to live with them. Do not withhold this teaching of restraint from them. Do not leave them to themselves, where they will bring you shame but rather teach them life, and nurture them in the Lord as you do it.
You are in His place.