“Give me the children until they are seven,
and anyone may have them afterwards.”
St. Francis Xavier
(Another version is “Give me the child until he is seven, and I’ll give you the man.”)
You wonder if the daily diapers, laundry, cooking and cleaning are all that it’s about?
You don’t think you’re making a difference? You don’t think what you’re doing is important?!
Please realize the truly eternal importance of what you are doing. And be intentional. If you only had one more year with your children, what would be the most important truths and Scriptural beliefs that you would want to convey? What example would make the most difference in their lives? How would you want to be remembered?
Would you pour Scripture into them? Would you love their Daddy more? Would you look into their eyes more intently and tell them you loved them more often?
Deuteronomy 6 says that we’re to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Jesus talks about this as the first and greatest commandment in Mark 12:30, quoting from Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 6 instructs us–commands us–as parents to make a difference for Him in our children’s lives and tells how:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
8And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
What do you talk about with your children all day? Yes, I know, your 3-year-old asks you questions all day, and there’s not much intelligent conversation with your nursing baby. But you can speak eternal truth into their hearts with every word–well, many of your words–anyway.
Have a little tea party with your daughter. Talk about eternal things. Every time you change your little one, tell him that God made him, and loves him. You could even tell him the whole gospel story of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection: by the time he can speak, it will be a familiar story.
While taking walks and observing nature or seeing a sunrise or sunset, you can quote Scripture: “The earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) “From the rising of the sun to the setting of the same, the Lord’s Name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).
When they are fighting with one another: Instead of, “Stop it!” instruct in godliness. Give them positive instruction: “Love one another. Do good to one another. God places us in families. He wants us to love each other.” Tell them from Scripture what God thinks about what they were doing.
I loved using the book, Proverbs for Parenting, to help me identify specific Bible verses relating to their behavior. The Word of God does not return void. “God hates lying. He says it’s an abomination to Him.” (You may even open your Bible and read the verse to your child.) “Jesus is called the Truth. Satan is called a liar and a deceiver–we don’t want to be anything like him. We want to be like Jesus.”
Don’t relegate your instruction in godliness to only when you’re disciplining, though! While they’re coloring at the table and you’re making supper, when you’re playing with them on the floor, and when you see them being obedient and well-behaved, praise their behavior using Biblical words, such as diligence, kindness, industriousness, obedience, discernment, love, cheerfulness, long-suffering, etc.
Use Scripture and Scriptural principles in your everyday conversation. “You may have friends that come and go, but you will always have your brother. You’re to be each other’s best friends. How does God want us to act? We’re to love one another. (Talk about what God says is loving –1 Corinthians 13–Love is patient and kind, does not envy, etc.) “We’re to treat each other the way we want to be treated. That’s what’s called the Golden Rule.” “See how kind you were just now with your little brother! God loves when we’re kind.” “God says children are to obey and honor their parents. When you do what Daddy says right away and cheerfully, you’re obeying God.”
Resist the temptation to just break up the fight, just maintain peace, just get your work done! Envision every moment in your day as a precious opportunity to teach your child about God, His universe, His plan. Tell him about Jesus’ love and death and resurrection for him. Plant seeds of truth and faith with your words and your countenance. As you rise, as you walk in the way, as you lie down.
Your work is eternal. It is the most important in the world, dear friend!