“But Godliness with content is great gain’ 1st Timothy 6:6 is ultimately the most important lesson any parent can bestow on their children in this day and age The other day my 3 year old son Jabali asked me to buy him a spider man kit and I told him I would do so when I have the money. He simply answered in a contented tone ’’OK, God will give you the money after you work (Mungu atakupatia pesa ukitoka job|)’’. His answer took me by surprise but also couldn’t help but feel proud of the fact that he didn’t pull a tantrum through it. I have discovered that It does not matter how many toys they own, the holidays we purchase, the schools we take them to or the latest fashion they wear, parents should strive to have happy content children. A home is important in raising happy content kids who don’t complain and murmur because you didn’t buy them something, have to share a bed with a relative or criticize their school or home in comparison to others. Parental responsibility requires us to instill a family culture based on values. Interestingly though, children pick a lot from what they see rather than hear. As a mum to my son I constantly challenge myself on ways I can instill the following values:
The value of faith
Encourage your children to pray over meals or when they face tough situations such as sickness or discouragement. Faith makes them know they can believe in a God whose abilities are much greater than mums or dads.
Mark 11: 24 ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received, and it will be yours.’
Modelling these values takes practice and instruction over a period of time just as the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 ‘Train up a child in the way they should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’
The value of persistence
Allow your child to make mistakes until they can master a task. Even when we’d do it out of love, remember practice does make perfect then permanent. These could be tasks such as tying shoelaces, spelling words or making their bed.
Galatians 6:9 ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’
The value of responsibility
Assign specific tasks for them to complete like washing dishes, gardening, making a bed, watering plants or cleaning floors such that they can manage with or without a house help around. Children must understand that eating isn’t the only activity around the house but must be accompanied by work.
2nd Thessalonians 3:9 – 10 ‘If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.’
The value of obedience
Children must understand and relate well with the different levels of authority in their lives such as parents, older relatives, teachers and people who serve them such as the house help, the bus driver, the watchman or a shop attendant. They must also see us set examples on obeying authority such as police in traffic or our even own parents. Even though we may require children to obey adults no matter what, it is also important for children to be able to say “no.” There are times when children could be taken advantage of by an adult authority figure in their lives. We need to give children permission to say “no” when it is necessary.
Ephesians 6:1-3 ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’
The value of patience
Teach delayed gratification. Yes you can afford that expensive gadget at the mall toyshop but you don’t have to buy it immediately. Have your child earn it instead. Also teach your child about taking turns for example at the long supermarket queue. They don’t have to push their way in.
Proverbs 16: 32 ‘Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.’
The value of discipline
Cultivate discipline in doing homework or waking up to go to school. Youi can limit TV to certain periods or a number of hours in a day. Have them develop discipline in their character towards others in society as well as in speech.
Proverbs 12:1 ‘Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.’
The value of compassion
Sharing is caring and your children need to learn that. Have them visit grandparents and help out with chores, or visit a sick relative and do something for them. Not forgetting the school donation cards for a cause such as the mater heart run. Let them participate and offer financial support.
Ephesians 4:32 ‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’
The value of self confidence
Be your children’s cheerleader. Praise them for effort however small. They should know they can rely on family’s support. Children also need to know that they are worthy individuals in the family and play a role in the family’s success. They should not fear being home or be intimidated by other because of what they own or their status.
Hebrews 13:6 ‘So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
The value of giving
Allow your children to put away unwanted toys or clothes they haven’t worn in a while. They can donate these to a children’s home or passing them down to a relative. Also give your child offering ‘sadaka’ for the Sunday morning service and encourage that act of worship towards God in giving and tithing.
Proverbs 3:27 ‘Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.’
The value of courtesy
Don’t imagine because you’re the parent you cannot apologize by saying sorry or be grateful by saying thank you. Express kind gesture in speech when you have to. Use please if you’d like them to pass over something to you or ‘excuse me’ if you want them to make way. Be sure they’ll repeat it to others as well.
Matthew 7:12 ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.’