It is definitely not an easy task to raise children well. As I raised two daughters, I refrained myself from writing a book about child education. I come to understand that knowing few principles of child education doesn’t guarantee you to raise your children well. Just as we experience, child education rarely goes in the way that the parents hope. A child is a person. Each child is born with his or her uniqueness. For such reason, we cannot imprint our children to be great figures like we do with a machine. A child is a special personal being, and each child needs to be approached differently.
On this Children’s Sunday, I want to share with you a few lessons I learned of raising our children well. These are the wise lessons that I had embraced in my heart as I raised my two daughters.
First, think of your child as a child of God entrusted to you. The Bible tell us “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). It is important to raise our children considering them as the entrusted children of God. We must not treat them harshly because they are children entrusted by God. We must raise them well. Unhealthy sense of possession of thinking that our children belong to us begets obsession. Obsession is what we need to be most cautious of when it comes to child education.
Second, respect your children. To respect children is to value and honor them. To treat them with worth is to give our ears to their words. It is not to block their words and to acknowledge their emotions with sincerity. It is not to underestimate their emotions. To respect our children is not to compare them to other children. Every child is a precious one of a kind, only being. When parents respect their children, the children honor the parents. Children and parents must honor and respect each other.
Third, teach your children to set boundaries. For mutual respect, boundaries must be set and kept. Boundary is a line that must be kept and not crossed over. When parents set boundaries for children, the children feel safe in the boundaries. However, setting boundaries includes teaching them about the areas they must not go across. Children will continue to challenge you and try to go over the boundaries with questions and curiosity. But it is through such process that they can learn and grow. We must not be the parents who do not allow our children to do anything because we misunderstand how to set boundaries. If you don’t want your children to draw on your wall then provide them a big poster paper and allow your children to draw on the paper as much as they want.
Fourth, trust your children. And you as their parents must become the object of your children’s trust. The most important factor in raising children is relationship. The heart of relationship is in trusting. Our children need people they can trust and rely on. Above all, help your children to depend on God. And be the parents your children can trust and rely on. Just as a ship always returns to a port, be a port-like person to your children so that your children could return to you and find rest even after wandering in their lives. To trust children means to trust the unlimited potential in them. It is to trust the pure heart and wisdom in them. Children learn on their own. Children learn continuously through observations and imitations. When raising children, we need to cultivate a sense of independence in them. We must cultivate a sense of independence so that they can think, choose, and learn on their own. It’s because the children will one day leave their parents.
Fifth, love your children unconditionally. God loves us unconditionally. When raising children, if parents love their children conditionally the children cannot grow healthily. Our children can be enslaved to the condition of love that the parents had put on them. Also, they can be enslaved to the praise that they don’t act for themselves but act according to the parents’ praise. We cannot ignore accomplishments and achievements but love your children unconditionally regardless of it. Let go of perfectionism. Our children are in the process of growing. A house under construction looks unattractive and ugly at times. However, we don’t carelessly judge the house in progress just by looking at its outer appearance. It is same for our children. They are under construction of life in the grace of God. Love every process of it.
The parents who raise their children well know not only how to give but also to fill themselves. When we only give without filling ourselves, we are easily exhausted. That is when the parents become tired. When tiredness is repeated, the parents become impatient and are easily angered. In order to raise the children well, be sure to have a time to fill yourselves before God. Have a time of filling the spiritual fountain of your inner self. Some of you are single mothers who are raising your children alone. Do not be discouraged. You will be able to raise your children well when you just rely on God. I pray that God’s blessings may overflow on your children.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.