The thought of raising children successfully in this generation can be overwhelming. How can you keep them from making the kind of destructive mistakes that will do their life damage, while they’re young, until they get old enough to know better? I have not only that task to perform, but I have watched countless others in their struggle. I could never write a "how-to" for raising your children. Not only is every child unique, but every family children are born into (or otherwise arrive) are unique. When I was in college, the prevailing thought was that environment would determine the "bent" of the child. If they lived in a good, wholesome environment they would undoubtedly turn out alright. I have lived long enough to know that it is not only environment, but genes as well that determine the behavior of a child!!
So what is a parent to do? Particularly an honest and discerning parent who knows that many of the character flaws they see in their children are familiar, because those same character flaws are in them! In one of my many discussions about this topic, I heard one parent say that they were not as interested in getting in their children’s heads, as in getting in their hearts. I had to think about this a long time because unless you instruct some children very carefully they have a tendency to think anything goes.
The next step I had to take was to go to my authority and that is, to scripture. One of my guiding verses as I was raising my children was Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (KJV)
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
Notice in the sixth verse it says, "these words…shall be in thine heart". You can’t teach something you don’t believe. first I had to be fully persuaded that what I was suggesting to my children was something that I was trying to implement in my own life! Talk doesn’t make the same impact that actions do – particularly with this sight and sound generation.
Going to another scripture, I found the sentiment that had been expressed to me,:
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:1-3 (ESV)
The "teacher" is saying here, "don’t forget my teaching" – put it in your head, commit it to memory – but then he goes on to say, "let your heart keep my commandments". In other words, let the very essence of who you are BE, DO, and LIVE – those commandments This is the real heartLIFE!