So many times, young women ask me, "What exactly did you do to train your children to be honoring, mannerly, respectful and serving of others?" Though all of life would be easier if there was one simple rule or formula that could be followed, I think most of the deep training and values of these training issues are a result of the values the parents hold and practice day in and day out. When we value honoring others, we will honor our children and friends and husband with our voice, our mannerisms, our generous love. And then, we train our children toward the values they have been finding over and over again in and through our lives. It is not an immediate grasping of our training, but over days and years, the shaping of a soul and the forming of values take place.
Serving others through our home and life always gave a platform from which they learned to honor others with their words and actions (manners!). Teaching doesn't happen in a vacuum. We cannot just repeat words, we must have a whole life educational value. Clay and I wrote about it many years ago in our book, Educating the Whole Hearted Child.
"We view the ministry of hospitality in our home as God's tool for us to train our children in graciousness. When someone comes to our home, our children know that we expect them to be gracious and quick to serve. That means welcoming adult guests properly, asking if there is something they can get for them, taking their coat, or whatever is appropriate to the visit. (Hospitality drills are a helpful way to train them in this area).
Our children know that being well-mannered and gracious is more than just a cultural formality...it is the way we show respect to another person, affirm their value as a person made in God's image, and strengthen our testimony to them as a family who loves and serves Christ, and that out of that love, we show others respect and honor.
It is the practical expression of treating others the way you want to be treated, regarding others as more important than yourself, and looking out for the interests of others. Even when we go to someone else's house, we will still practice hospitality. We rehearse with the kids before they leave the car how to be gracious guests who are polite, respectful, and helpful." -Educating the Wholehearted Child
Even though my children are now adults, they still help me every time we welcome anyone into our home. One will be bustling around, setting up for tea time, and before I know it, another has already cleaned up the entire kitchen. The dishes will be washed, the counters tidied, and each guest is sure to have been welcomed and served.
This did not always happen without grumbling and I had to repeat it over and over through many years--but now, our whole family values and practices have taken root and they live pretty much the same way in their own homes. But it did take years and years!
This desire to serve, help, and host does not appear out of thin air. In order for your family to be a team that works together as a unit when you have guests over, your children must have TMI (no-not "too much information.")
Training: Train in grace behavior (manners). Teach them words to say, ways to meet others, how to serve in thoughtful ways. Value and pursue priority relationships and train them to behave differently in church and show them that some places are sacred. Train your children how to pray, how to be quiet when needed, how to reach out to the lonely.
-Modeling: Moms-set the example. Be gracious and kind to family members. Show grace and love to strangers. Honor authorities in your life and pray for them even if you don't always agree with them, as God desires that we be gracious as He was.
Instruction: We teach our children about the concept of honor in scripture--of valuing the worth of another by how we behave towards them in relationship. We speak to them about our relationship with God, that we honor others because of our desire to honor and serve HIm. About the power of the Holy Spirit--lived out through real people to real people.
Proverbs 22:6 states:
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
It is absolutely crucial that we train our children in the ways of graciousness. This also means that you must have patience and grace with your children as they learn how to serve others, because they are immature and straining towards maturity little by little.
Start practicing by assigning your children different ways they can help the next time you have friends or family over for dinner. If you remember Instructing, Training, Modeling, your little ones will flourish into adults who are loving, gracious, polite, and respectful.
"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. -Colossians 4:6
"Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
As moms, we work hard to impart the truth of God's love to our children, but are we teaching our children how to be ambassadors of Christ to others? At the heart, manners are about cultivating spiritual and social poise that put others at ease. They are the skill that allows our children to confidently relate to people. In this episode, Sally and Kristen discuss why manners are important to impart to our children, and also how they can help our kids to have a gracious presence wherever they find themselves in the future. In this episode we will dive into how Sally and Kristen each approached teaching manners to their children, their ideas for creative ideas to make this training fun, and most of all, how to open the hearts of your children to see that manners are not simply a matter of being well behaved, but are really about becoming stewards of God's love. Then, join special guest, Sarah Mae as she joins the podcast to inspire us in our summer plans with kids, shares her advice to moms about how to prepare children for social situations when new manners and skills are necessary and gives us a sneak peek at the content for her forthcoming book, The Complicated Heart!
Click here to find this week's Bible Memory sheet; right-click and download to print! Week Four Bible Memory