Let’s talk about building Christian character and manners in our covenant children. The Bible gives us everything we need to train our children in godly conduct and respect. He also gives us good books and helps along the way. If you have ever read the Dedrick’s excellent book “The Little Book of Christian Character and Manners”1/ on this subject, you will be pricked to the heart in seeing both your children’s sinful nature in their behavior and by God’s grace, the practical means to help change them into vessels for God.
What parent has not seen temper tantrums, screaming for no reason, rebellion in obeying, backtalk, lying, stomping of feet or slamming of doors, refusal to obey simple requests like brushing teeth, picking up toys, or cleaning room? None, I am sure of it. The home is a place where sinners live and children, just like their parents, are sinners and need the grace of God and help of the Holy Spirit to live a life of obedience “all to the glory of God [1Co 10:31].” The Bible tells us that “rebellion is as witchcraft” [1Sa 15:23] and “the way of a transgressor is hard [Pro 13:15].” What parent wants their children to practice witchcraft or have a hard or difficult life? Again, not one of us. God’s Word tells us that the result of sin is evil, difficulty, hardship and problems. Living rebelliously is a hard and miserable life. It is one that no God-fearing, God-loving Christian would want their children to live. We want our children to “love God and enjoy Him forever.” We want them to be successful, happy and well-adjusted in everything. We want them to be a blessing and not a grief.
Stop! Say No To Psychobabble
The biggest lie today in raising our children is the world’s system (secular humanism and the use and excuse of secular psychology (psychobabble)) for excusing sin, bad behavior, ill-manners, temper tantrums, “strong-willed” personality and every other falsehood. God’s Word identifies it as sin but the world gives it lots of names, excuses and thus nullifies what God has written on how we are to live and behave. Secular psychology destroys by taking away the truth and the hope for change. God’s Word is the only truth and the guidebook for raising children. It is only by God’s Word and committed parenting can we bring up our children to live a godly life and it is only by our own obedience to God’s Word can we teach and train them by example. If we make excuses for sin, our bad behavior or laziness, we will make excuses for them. Thus, the responsibility lies at our door to be their godly trainers and overseers and to do it well.
In the Dedrick’s book, they talk about “the biblical basis for discipline” “qualities of a wise character,” “the rod of discipline” “teaching wise conduct and manners” and the responsibilities of parents. It is a book that every new parent should read and one that should be read over and over again, along with the Scriptures, so that we have a firm understanding of the great responsibility we have as parents and our accountability to the Lord for our stewardship as parents
What about you covenant parent? Pray as you read.2/
As parents, we must responsibly act on the authority that has been given to us. We are accountable to God for the proper discipline of our children. These are signs that indicate my child is not learning good character traits. They signal that I am losing control or not in authority in my home.
1. My child whines, cries, pouts when I say “no” to him.
2. I find myself reluctant to ask my child to help with any tasks because of his negative reaction and inability to complete a job. He usually responds by whining or answers, “I can’t…, “I don’t want to.”
3. There is an excessive amount of noise and confusion in my house: children bickering, crying, hitting, rough behavior with furniture, toys, screaming, etc.
4. I am unable to leave anything of personal value or foods snacks within my child’s reach.
5. I am unable to leave my child (aged 3 or above) out of my sight or unattended in another room for any period of time without being worried what he is up to.
6. I am embarrassed or afraid to take my child to other homes because he is so active (boisterous, silliness, fidgeting, knocking things over, touching everything).
7. My child is unable to sit quietly for any length of time in a place I specify.
8. Going shopping is a fiasco because my children run through the clothes racks or touch everything in the store or run away from me.
9. My child has a “smart mouth” (yells, uses abusive language, swears at me) or hits me.
10. My child throws tantrums, refuses to eat or do things he is asked to do.
11. My child takes things without asking, rummages through our drawers and cupboards.
12. My child does not come when called or respond to my voice from another room.
13. When I ask my child to do something I always have to explain “why,” first.
14. Most of my child’s toys are broken and he rarely puts any away, outdoors or indoors.
15. My child avoids doing what I ask by using flattering words, changing the subject or doing some other good deed instead.
16. My child gets my attention with loud, disrespectful demands. Example: “Hey, Mom! Get the … for me!” “I want…!” “Mom, come here!”
17. I find myself saying, “I can’t do that because Suzie won’t let me,” or “I can’t get Johnny to do that …”
18. When I discipline my child he pouts, responds in anger, or screams, or throws himself on the floor, slams doors, prolongs his crying, coughs, gags (or attempts to vomit).
19. As I talk on the phone or chat with others, my child constantly interrupts or acts naughty, demanding attention.
20. My child is constantly bored, discontent and looking for entertainment; wanting to play, he grumbles at his work.
21. I am ready to pull my hair out. My child drives me crazy. I am so worn out all the time that I can hardly wait to break from him at every opportunity.
A Note to Parents: How sharp is your Scripture memory? Can you think of a verse dealing with each of the above? These are examples of poor character qualities which are spoken of especially in the Proverbs.”
1/ “The Little Book of Christian Character and Manners,” William and Colleen Dedrick, Christian Tutorial Books, [Holly Hall Publications] 1992, pp. 63, 64
2/ TheologyGirl, Editor & Publisher, “Heavenly Notes,” ReformedWomen, from the original JoyPals/ReformedWomen study “Children of the Living God, Discipline of Children/Training in Righteousness,” Copyright 1997-2006, All Rights Reserved