Soon our very first great-grandbaby is due to arrive. We are overwhelmingly excited. Thoughts and prayers turn at once to training in:
“Love the Lord with all your heart…”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you.” (Matthew 22:37, 39 and 6:33)
Very quickly my mind also goes to Beatrix Potter’s, Peter Rabbit. The illustrations and story portray individual responsibility for actions, including consequences and rewards.
But wise parents will “add” to the story WHY we obey. What is the real reward to be gained? Where do we get the power to desire that reward?
Jesus speaking, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word; and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23) The real reward pictured here is the triune God, Himself. We want to work diligently (Deut. 6) at helping our great-grandbaby understand what the reward of God is. “You (God) will keep him (baby) in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:7) “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
The reward then is God, Himself and the joy, peace, contentment, trust that He freely gives when He comes to that precious baby.
And when He comes he brings His Spirit to stay, helping the child as he grows, giving the child power to believe, to trust. His Spirit also reminds the child of His love and draws him to obey.
As a child grows into teen years and adulthood the value of understanding that the reward goes beyond stars or blackberries is beyond measure. Imagine a life content because God gave that contentment as the child/teen sought God as reward. Think of the difference between joy and anger as you see the teen choose to seek God with His whole heart or satisfy his own selfish desires.
Pray with me for our new great grandbaby. But pray, also, for all of our children and parents that if they use stars, M&Ms or blackberries for reward that they will add the teaching of the greatest REWARD and WHY.
Learning in Summer
Try some summer outdoor school fun! We have tomatoes and herbs in our tiny garden. But, oh, the lessons they offer. Take advantage of learning the names of plants and vegetables for your young ones and finding safe cures for garden ills for your older ones. But if you have no time nor desire to use your garden that way, you may enjoy a pool. What lesson does the pool offer? How about the value of fun and gratitude to God for creating you to enjoy it!
If not the garden, nor the pool, maybe a hike in our beautiful mountains could be your summer school. Snakes offer lessons or plants that sting and itch. Lessons galore abound in our mountains!
Free time to be a help to someone leads us to search our hearts for motive. I’ll never forget the summer I was 7 not yet able to help my dad in his store, yet able to help a neighbor that everyone else feared. She paid well. My mother in her wisdom chose that summer to teach about motives. I was getting so much praise and money and, she had to see me deficient. But the lesson stayed with me, motive!
Ideas to Consider
Of course, pray to see if any of these are useful in your family.
1. For those who seem academically unchallenged or under-challenged:
a) Develop a project that you know will encourage and enhance math or research skills.
b) OR choose a logic or debate book to study together. Keep it light and fun, but introduce needed “thinking” guidelines. This can start with young students by helping them evaluate conclusions drawn.
c) Using textbooks that you’ve already chosen, permit the student to work a unit or read a chapter on his own. Set a deadline for when you will check him for understanding. (I would not use published tests but discuss and/or do several math problems.) If at this deadline meeting there is evidence of understanding, move on. Allow the student to set the pace in the case of a rapid learner.
2. Chores – for young children, consider giving the same chore for a long period of time. This allows for mastering and perhaps a bit of ownership!
3. While dealing with disrespect or some other great need try showing the value of respect through real life. For example, choose a biography that displays that character trait. Notice its absence in another. Talk about why it’s important to you while sharing dessert. In your everyday life, make it a valuable asset. Refrain from, “You never show any respect!” The old adage, children become what they are called, is too often true.
4. Understanding the difference between nagging and training:
Nag – annoy or irritate with persistent fault-finding or continuous urging.
Train – teach a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction.
Nag – annoyance, irritation, defense of unwanted behavior
Train – when he is old, he will not depart from it, wisdom, teachable
Training in everyday small things is not nagging. From obedience in small things, great rewards can come.