This week’s posting is written by Cynthia Carrier, of Values Driven Ministry. She is the helpmeet of Marc, and mother to 7 beautiful blessings from the Lord. You can read more about their ministry, and their family, at their blog.
I am sharing this particular post because of the season. 🙂 As we all know, spending time with family, especially extended family, is one of the joys of the holiday season. Unfortunately, we often run into difficult situations with our families who do not understand (or who do not care to) the ways we are striving to raise our children. I feel Cynthia’s post is an excellent reminder of WHY we are doing this, and an encouragement to persevere.
Recently we went on a trip in our travel trailer from our home in Indiana to visit family in Connecticut. While we were gone, we left our 4 month-old black lab with my father-in-law (Jack) next door. After being on the road for one day, my husband called his dad to see how things were going. Jack lamented that the dog had chewed his foam mattress top, pooped on the floor, and whined in her crate at night so much that he ended up letting her sleep in his bed. To keep her from chewing on the mattress, he gave her an old pair of shoes.
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve always thought that puppy-training is more work than child-training. I didn’t “really” want this dog. If I had these kinds of problems with her on a consistent basis, I don’t think we would keep her. However, after a few “hiccups,” she’s housebroken quite well. We just make sure to let her out A LOT, and we’ve trained her to ring a bell at the door when she needs to heed nature’s call. We did neglect to bring that over to my father-in-law’s house, so the accident could have been attributed to that oversight.
However, she has not chewed on anything at our house. We make sure she has some rawhide or something…and we did leave more than one bone with Jack, so I’m not really sure why she was chewing his foam mattress (or why he let her get away with it…he was sitting right there the whole time!). Not to mention, chewing on shoes is a habit that we don’t want to encourage! As to whining in her crate, well, that’s something else she doesn’t do at home. We were hoping she didn’t develop bad habits at Grandpa’s over the five days we were gone that would need to be re-trained when we got back home.
I share this little story because it illustrates something that Marc and I have long known: the best training in the world can be quickly undone by well-meaning relatives or unusual circumstances. In this case, it was our puppy training; at other times, we’ve seen the same thing happen with our child-training. When we were first-time parents who were committed to doing our best in raising our children for the Lord, this realization (and the decisions that it prompted) were not something that we read about in books on child-training, but it was something that, by necessity, we had to face head-on.
Our home operates on solid routines of family devotions, morning and afternoon chores, schooling, family work times, and family fun times. We are proactive about encouraging our children to live the Word of God and to grow in Christlike character; we do this according to Deuteronomy 6:6-7—in other words, all the time. We live out what it means to be a follower of Christ and talk about God, the Gospel, the Scriptures, and our life in Christ as a natural part of everyday events.
It came as no surprise to us, even when our children were very young, that they were very easily swayed away from our careful training when they visited well-meaning relatives. Their appetites for media such as TV and videos were quite over-indulged, since we don’t watch TV in our home and movies are only a weekly treat for the whole family. Their physical appetites were also indulged, with sweets and junk food which we try to be careful with. Many of the expectations that we have for their behavior were not supported by others who temporarily cared for them. And morning and evening devotions were obviously not practiced by non-believing family members. All in all, we have found that visits with family are best to be well-planned and somewhat limited. When the children return from these visits, a period of “re-training” is also expected.
Our decisions in this matter were made with much thought and prayer, but have not always been easily implemented. We understand the value of extended family relationships and know that the habits our children have formed won’t disappear because they are away from us for a while. However, we enjoy our children and our family life and we take seriously our Biblical mandate to “train them up in the way they should go.”
We don’t expect that our family, or casual observers, will understand our decision to keep our kids close (or other decisions that we have made). However, I share this to encourage you in the benefits of making wise decisions on behalf of your children when it comes to keeping their hearts and helping them to consistently walk in God’s ways. Sometimes your decisions won’t be easy ones to make or to implement, but the rewards will certainly be worth it.
“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:5-7)
Join me each Thursday as I share one of the At the Well – In Pursuit of Titus 2 devotionals that has impacted my role as a wife and mother.