We want our children to be able to celebrate
and cry, "I am me. I am a good person. I am God's child, and through
him I am secure in my ways." This can happen for them. But they need us
to do at least these four things.
1. Teach the nature of authority. "Mind me, I'm your mother" only works for a while. Eventually such obedience gives way to rebellion because it's not based on authority that is invested willingly and reasonably. We need to teach children what authority is, where proper authority lies and why it's valuable to trust and respect it.
We do well by starting with God. We can teach, for example, that commandments like "You shall not steal" aren't a slogan to be memorized but are the way a loving God seeks to protect his children (see also, page 26). Children will grow to accept and understand authority, willingly, happily and with security.
2. Use the child's potential. Parents sell children short by overprotecting them, expecting marionette behavior as they pull the strings or by muffling their ears against youthful input. Children think and reflect. They solve problems like what to wear in the morning and which classmates are desirable friends. Wise parents respect and provide time for such thinking, whether this means biting their tongues while a child asks an offensive question or letting the child play on the swing where she engages in simple meditation free from distractions.
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