Child Training in the Family: What Do You Want to Build? (part one)


"A wise woman builds her house, and a foolish woman with her own hands tears it down." Proverbs 14: 1

Often, in my conferences, I have said, "In order to build a house, you must have an architectural plan or the house will not stand. There are many ways to build a home and many kinds of homes. One can build a small shack or a grand estate, but all begins with a plan. It all depends on how big your vision for your plan is--you can build generations of legacy or only have a small sphere of influence because of having no imagination or Biblical plan in place. "

None of us is perfect and so we will never have a perfect plan, but we must have something in place and expand and build on it! Here are several foundational principles that Clay and I followed.

1. God designed the family and children and He called them a blessing--so He must have something in mind.

Starting out with scripture, reading Genesis 1, pondering how God fathers us, observing how Jesus influenced His disciples, --these principles give us a starting place. God is relational and loving and provides and pursues and protects and wants to communicate.  And so I pattern my life after His.

2. We are building generations--a legacy of messages, values, traditions, and convictions.

Parenting is not primarily focused on behavioral goals, but on heart values and messages--those purposes that inspire, capture a child's imagination, and give those in the family a sense of belonging and hope. Purpose and focus on heart messages is a part of the grid that I work from every day.

3. We must have in mind what it is we are building.

Clay and I partnered together to come up with values, truths, and habits that we wanted to become the very core of our children's impulses on how to live life well. The picture of the Holy Spirit comes to mind. Jesus said, "I will send you a Helper, and He will guide you into all truth." We are like that with our children and as Christ was with His disciples: helpers who will guide them into truth.

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

All day long, the grid I worked from was through the lens of our “family ways”. For instance,  when a toddler was about to hit another, I would pick them up, hold the hand and say very seriously, "We never, never use our hands to express hate or anger. Remember our way: ‘We treat others with kindness, gentleness and respect.’"

If a child was older and mouthed off, I would remind them of that same "way", and require them to apologize or write a note to the offended person, or write out the memory verse however many times I thought would be appropriate. Our ways became an objective grid for training and building expectations in our children's soul for Biblical ideals.

Our 24 Family Ways is a devotional that Clay wrote for our family, to be the discipleship tool for building a plan of how we wanted our children to live life--to train them in what was true, what was expected, and how to practice living within the guidelines of the Clarksons. We wanted our children to know how to honor us and God; to know how to practice loving others in word and deed; to know how to cultivate strong work habits and attitudes about all of these and many other things. We attached each "way" to scripture, gave our children memory verses, and went over our ways again and again over the years so that these truths would be deep in their hearts. We pray this book will be a blessing and guide for your family, too!

More next week on this same topic!