Myths about child-rearing (1)

Deuteronomy 31:13 NIV

In his book, Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong, author William Kilpatrick identifies some child-rearing myths that parents buy into: (1) The myth of the “good bad boy.” American literature and films often portray “bad boys” as charming and attractive. Tom Sawyer and Buster Brown are examples from the past; various other lovable brats featured in film and on television are contemporary examples. This strand in the American tradition has such a powerful hold on the imagination that the word “obedience” is very nearly a dirty word.

(2) The myth of natural goodness. This is the idea that virtue will take care of itself if children are just allowed to grow in their own way.

(3) The myth of expert knowledge. In recent decades, parents have deferred to professional authority in the matter of raising children. Unfortunately, the vast majority of child-rearing “experts” subscribe to the myth of natural goodness. So much emphasis has been placed on the unique, creative, and spontaneous nature of children, that parents have come to feel child-rearing means adjusting themselves to their children, rather than having children learn to adjust to the requirements of family life.

Let’s take a moment and observe what God said to the children of Israel about child-rearing: “Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear (reverence and respect) the Lord your God as long as you live.” Note the phrase “must hear it and learn.” That’s not a suggestion for parents – it’s a commandment God has called you to obey if you want your family to be blessed.

Soul food: 1 John 1:1-3:10; John 8:21-30; Ps 86; Prov 25:8-12

Thinking positively

Philippians 4:8 NLT

Our minds can work for us or against us. When they work for us, it helps us to stay positive, reach our goals, and enjoy each day. But when they work against us, it can make us negative and discouraged, hold us back, and cause us to think unhelpful thoughts. So we need to train our minds to work for us instead of against us.

An important way to do this is to make an intentional decision to begin to think positively – in terms of faith and not fear. Our brains won’t be able to carry out this new instruction overnight. It might be a radical transformation from the way we usually tend to think, and changing a habit takes time, especially if it’s one we’ve had for a long time. But if we’re determined to do it thoroughly and accept God’s help, instead of working against us, our minds will go to work for us and become a positive force in our lives.

An interesting thing to remember is that when you’re born, every organ is fully developed and then gets bigger as you grow. Except for the brain. This develops for a number of years (approximately twenty-five, and possibly more) until it’s fully developed. And even after that, it continues to mature, creating new connections and networks for the rest of your life. That means we can constantly learn new things, and change and improve the way we think.

So let’s try to stay positive, and focus on good, godly things: ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

Matt 21:18-22; Matt 8:5-13; Mark 6:1-6

The value of a confidant

1 Samuel 18:1 KJV

It hurts when you discover that not everyone has your best interests at heart. So you must learn to be more discerning, and know on what level to interact with people. Usually only a few people belong in your inner circle. That’s why you must be wise when it comes to who you allow into that circle. We see this illustrated in the lives of David and Jonathan. David was at odds with King Saul, the father of his best friend, Jonathan. Jonathan kept David’s secrets and protected him with his very life, even when faced with displeasing his own family. Jonathan wasn’t seeking to elevate himself, inflate his own self-importance, or orchestrate his own advancement through his relationship with David. Simply stated, they had a “soul connection.” The strength of a confidant lies in their silence. If someone’s a gossiper, they automatically disqualify themselves. We must be able to rest in the security of these relationships, in order to express ourselves, gather information, and glean wise counsel. Otherwise, we reap the consequences of having the wrong people know too much about us. Confidants not only maintain our secrets, they refuse to exploit that privileged information for their own gain. They really care about us, and don’t throw our past mistakes in our face. They refuse to utter the words “I told you so.” Such people are in your life for the long haul, and you must recognize and cherish them.

Soul food: Deut 1-2; Luke 10:25-37; Ps 78:32-39; Prov 16:31

Grow through it

Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV

When we find ourselves facing challenges and tough times, we can end up asking God, ‘Why?’. We wonder what we’ve done to bring about these difficulties, and we can wonder why God isn’t taking the struggles away. But the truth is, we don’t go through tough times because we’re being punished, we go through them because suffering is in the world. Until Jesus comes again, we’re all going to have to go through times of trouble. The Bible says we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re facing struggles. ‘Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you’ (1 Peter 4:12 NIV). Instead of asking, ‘Why?’ we need to ask God, ‘What do You want me to learn from this experience?’ And instead of asking God to improve our circumstances, we need to ask Him to use our circumstances to improve us. Tough times are great opportunities for us to learn more about ourselves, and more about God. They show us how much we trust God, and how much we rely on our own strength. Moses instructed the Israelites to ‘Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness…to humble and test you.’ We might not enjoy time in the wilderness, but God can use that time to shape us and grow us. He doesn’t delight in our suffering, but He delights in our development. Paul wrote: ‘God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished’ (Philippians 1:6 NCV). Every challenge we face, large or small, is equipping us for the future God has in mind for us.

Jas 5:16-18; 1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 2:1-12

You can win in the second half

Hosea 14:4 NKJV

Halftime in the game is for rest and assessment. It’s a time to regroup – to evaluate how things have been going and decide what adjustments need to be made for the rest of the game. Often a team may look like they’re losing at halftime, but by the time the game ends they’ve turned things around and won. Until the final whistle sounds, the game is still up for grabs. And the same is true in life. If you’re still here, the game of life isn’t over for you. Your clock is still ticking. You have a life yet to live. Not only that, but the first half doesn’t have to determine the outcome of the game. Maybe you’ve made mistakes, experienced disappointments and failures. Maybe life has dealt you a harsh blow here or there. But you are still here – and as long as you are, the whistle hasn’t blown and it’s not too late for God to take you straight to the plan He has for you. You see, God looks at your future while the Enemy tries to keep you focused on your past. God says, “You can, in spite of what’s been done!” But the Enemy says, “You can’t, because of what you’ve done.” God will never define you by your past, whereas the Enemy will try to control and confine you by using it against you. Whether the good, the bad, or the ugly dominated your first half, Satan’s goal is to keep you chained there. God, on the other hand, wants you to learn from your past – not live in it.

Soul food: Jer 25-27; Luke 5:1-11; Ps 102:18-28; Prov 15:4-7