Prior to moving to the city, we attended a close-knit home church we had lovingly dubbed The Pilgrim Church because we moved from house to house never “settling” anywhere in particular.
Being a part of a family-integrated home church allowed me the opportunity to watch other families deal with certain behaviors in their children. After church, the mothers would get together and the topic often turned to child training and the tips of the trade, so to speak. During these Titus 2 type discussions, I gleaned so much wisdom. I learned to improve my attitude, my children’s attitudes, and the family’s attitude in general.
As a large family, it is imperative we stay the course in child training, not because we are stared at everywhere we go, but because we desire to raise up children who know the Lord. Chaos and disobedience do not point our children toward God. They point our children toward self.
Perhaps you are curious about the things I learned from these more seasoned mothers. Here is just a sampling of my lessons:
* Large families that “appear” perfect did not get that way over night. Many of them trained at home–blanket time, family devotions, etc. And often what the world sees is the result of days, weeks, and months of training.
* They come prepared. No matter where they go, they are prepared…everything from extra clothes, to special books, to drinks. Not having these things just creates stress.
* They are discreet and cheerful. When, not “if”, a situation arises that requires discipline or correction, they do it quietly and without causing a scene. I have witnessed mamas correct an unruly child in church with what looked like no more than a nod of the head. I, on the other hand, often got exasperated and gritted my teeth before finally taking the offending child out in a huff to give them what for. I was no where near calm and peaceful because I had either let it go too far or I had expected too much or I was worried what others must think.
* Pick your battles. Not everything is worthy of discipline. Some things simply need a quick, calm, cheerful answer and that’s it. Some behaviors are age appropriate. Sometimes we have simply asked too much of our children (sitting too long for example). Often a child needs to be shown grace.
* When the behavior cannot be dealt with in the public eye, leave and be prepared to spend as much time as it takes to correct the behavior. You cannot be selfish and be a good parent. There are going to be times when certain activities just aren’t going to be enjoyable for you because you are staying the course with a certain behavior. You may spend the entire church service in the hallway. Know right now your success in teaching your child depends on your own attitude. Also know that if you stay the course it will pay off. Someday you will spend the entire church service IN CHURCH.
* Remind yourself of this verse:
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
Stop viewing your child training years as tedious. You are your children’s safety net. To have to correct over and over again is definitely work, but never wasted work.
It all boils down to the three words one mother whispered to me one particularly rough morning during church…