'Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.' (Proverbs 22:6)
We must teach our children love for God. Children learn to love God because 'He first loved us!' Parents need to express to children how very special they are to God and how great and awesome He is and how He personally is concerned with every aspect of our lives. He knows and cares even about the number of hairs we have on our heads. God is everywhere and yet God is always with them, helping them, strengthening them as they mature and little by little grow up. We must teach our children a love for Jesus, God in the flesh, a friend who understands and sympathizes with us and yet never compromises. They must learn to love God's Word which is relevant and active today. It can be applied to any need in their lives now and has eternal principles and answers for every situation. We must teach our children to love God's church. The church needs to be their extended family, where their best friends are and where they have their happiest, most fun times.
We must teach our children how to love others. Love and concern for others (in response to God's love and care for us) should be constantly talked about, encouraged and praised. Some children are not as 'naturally' loving and affectionate as others. They must be drawn out and taught to express love. Teach them with lots of love and affection. Also, teach them expressions of love such as responding when someone says 'Hello'. It is rude to ignore or shrug people away when greeted. Teach them to look at people when they speak. Older children can be taught and encouraged to look at people 'in the eyes' when in conversation.
Children learn to love others by helping. They are capable of so much more than we think. We often expect far too little from our children. Sometimes it seem the most conscientious parents have the lowest expectations for their children. We do far too much for them and, in fact, we ofthen create self-centeredness. Instead, teach them to be focused, sensitive and cooperative in meeting each other's needs in the family. Make sure they are 'watching out' for younger siblings. Serving is something that we have worked long and hard on. When the children were younger we had 'servant's week' when everyone tried to 'outdo one another in service.' We have given stickers and made up charts to establish happy, helpful habits. We have taught that the way we treat one another is the way we treat Jesus (Matthew 25:34-40).
We must teach love to children by our examples. Parents must take the time to express how much they love and appreciate each one of their children. In one sense each child should feel that they are loved the 'most' because of how very special they are treated as an individual. Talk about the unique qualities that each one of them possess. Not only love your children, but also 'like' them. Enjoy the time you spend with them, and express your love with hugs, kisses and affection. Also, smile at your children. This seems obvious, but take special note this week about how many times you actually look into your children's eyes and smile approvingly.
Express your love during the daily routine of your life. Take time to create warmth and closeness when you put them to bed, when they leave for school and when they return. Especially take time to express your concern when they are fearful or when they're sick. What are the lasting memories of childhood? Not the expensive things or experiences we provided, but from the 'little moments' of being happy and close.
Lastly, we must teach our children to love the lost. Our children need to understand that the family is an instrument of God to bring the lost into a relationship with Him. Loving, obedient children of Christian parents are truly one of the brightest lights that God will use in a dark and lost world. Encourage them to invite friends, teachers, and acquaintances to your home and church. Show them how to pray for specific people to study the Bible and become Christians. Get them involved! Let them experience the power of God at work through their lives and prayers. They can learn from a very early age to be 'people lovers' with the great purpose of seeking and saving the lost.
- Geri Laing
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