So much emphasis in parenting is placed on "teaching obedience" and parents will resort to and justify just about anything to get their kids to obey. But, Jesus says the greatest commandment is TO LOVE God...and the 2nd greatest commandment is to love others as we loves ourselves. So, if we're going to talk about "training" or "raising" our children...with this in mind...how do we "train" a child to love themselves?
Because we are instructed to "love others AS WE LOVE OURSELVES"…it would seem that loving yourSELF would be a pretty foundational "skill" we'd need to "teach" our children. And, that's not so simple. No. You can't teach a kid to love themselves by closing a door on a crying baby and leaving them to cry alone...or by handling a tough discipline problem by whacking your child. No. Teaching a child to "love" themselves is not something you can walk away from or do with force, threats, and fear.
So, how to teach our children to "love themselves"???
And, remember the list of what LOVE (or God) IS...
Love (God) is patient
Love (God) is kind
Love (God) is not jealous
Love (God) does not brag and is not arrogant
Love (God) does not act unbecomingly
Love (God) does not seek its own
Love (God) is not provoked
Love (God) does not take into account a wrong suffered
Love (God) does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Love (God) rejoices with the truth
Love (God) bears all things
Love (God) believes all things
Love (God) hopes all things
Love (God) endures all things.
Love (God) never fails
So, if we teach by example...we teach our kids to be patient by being patient with them. We can't do this by closing them up alone in a room, putting them on a schedule, or by threatening or striking them.
We teach them to not be jealous by making them so secure in who they are that they won't find things threatening and become jealous. We can't do this by closing them up alone in a room, putting them on a schedule, or by threatening or striking them.
We make them not be arrogant or brag by serving and treating them with love so that they will not want to have better things than others or feel a need to prove their own worth because they have no doubt in how much they are worth. We can't do this by closing them up alone in a room, putting them on a schedule, or by threatening or striking them.
We teach them to "not seek their own" by always serving them and teaching them by example that their needs are fulfilled by a source outside themselves. And, thru our example that the greatest joy in life is to serve others. If we close them up in a room alone, threaten them or strike them they will learn that they are the only one who is trustworthy and safe...the only person they can count on and that if they don't look out for #1 no one else will.
We teach them to not take wrongs into account by always listening to them and helping them always to resolve their feelings. We teach them not to take wrongs into account by being humble and apologizing to them when we fail. By monitoring our own behavior in the way we treat them and making sure to right the wrongs we do to them, we teach them how to make things right when relationships have trouble. We teach them to "not let the sun go down on their anger" rather than burying feelings alive which never die...and keeping an account of all the wrongs they've suffered. We can't do this by closing them up alone in a room, putting them on a schedule, or by threatening or striking them.
We teach them to rejoice in the truth when we treat them with respect, sensitivity, and empathy and always respond to them according to their cues. When we hear their cries as a newborn, or later their complaints when they're older and can talk...when we listen to what's going on and we investigate their cries and do our best to soothe them and lead them to resolution of their troubles we show them that they matter which teaches them to rejoice in the truth. When we do not harshly scold and punish them when they err...when we look at the wrong they've done and gently guide them toward the truth we teach them that exposing "lies" is a reason to rejoice because it leads to the truth! We can't do this by closing them up alone in a room, putting them on a schedule, or by threatening or striking them.
We teach them to "bear all things" with our own attitudes toward them. When we always joyfully care for them no matter what the circumstance...when we do not whine and complain about needing time away from them we teach them how to bear all things. We can't do this by closing them up alone in a room, putting them on a schedule, or by threatening or striking them.
We teach them to believe, hope, and love and that love never fails by never leaving them all alone to cry until they give up all belief and hope that anyone will answer them? By always coming to them and comforting them according to their cry will show them that love never fails. We can't do this by closing them up alone in a room, putting them on a schedule, or by threatening or striking them.
Romans 1 says that everything knowable about God is evident in the Creation...and science has proven that to NOT treat a child with empathy leads to all sorts of pathology. It is like the worst things you can do to a future adult. Children denied this empathic treatment in their first three years of life will suffer for it for the rest of their life as it does something to their brain's development that leads to social disorders, anger issues, depression, and the list goes on...Basically, science has shown us that closing them up alone in a room, putting them on a schedule, threatening and striking them does not lead to anything good in the adult...
Check yourself throughout the day as you interact with your child. How often do you resort to closing them up alone in a room? How scheduled is their life? Can they eat when they want? How often do you resort to threats when dealing with them? How often do you actually hit them to get them to do what you want? Know that none of these things, though they do result often in an "obedient" child...obedience is not the 2nd greatest commandment...and the way you are getting your child to obey will interfere with your child's future ability to follow those commandments...
Everything you do with your baby…particularly in the first year of life…is laying the foundation for them for the rest of their life. How you treat them is how they learn to love themselves and how they will ultimately love others…love God…and feel loved by God.
"The hand that rocks the cradle" shapes the minds and hearts of the next generation.
The hand that rocks the cradle truly does "rule the world"...and if you treat your child with LOVE...you are allowing God to be the one to rock that cradle...