Dear Modern Mama, Please consider this Bible verse as a parenting goal. God never showed me the outcome of my child training here on earth, but this is what He taught me:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.
The Ten Commandments
“The way he should go” sounds very broad, but go back to the ten commandments in Exodus 20 (repeated in Deuteronomy 5) to review God’s primary guidelines for life. The first three commandments focus on our relationship with God. If we set God first above all else in our lives, the rest will fall into place. That means nothing gets placed ahead of God, not even our children. (Don’t know about you, but that challenged this dedicated mama!)
God’s name deserves worship, not to be abused or taken in vain. Using God’s name as intended means that we respect Him, tell others about God, and speak His truth in love. If we focus on God and His teaching in our own lives, it will flow out from us into our children. The time, energy, and resources we spend training our children can be filtered through God’s priorities for our own lives.
With God as our number one priority, we can invest in other relationships. The fourth commandment tells us to honor our father and mother. Our children will watch how we respect our parents and elders. If kids learn to treat family members with appreciation and dignity, they will apply those concepts to other adults. The other commandments list acts of disobedience against God and other people: murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and jealousy. Child-training teaches what obedience looks like, both how to act and how not to act.
My husband and I taught our eldest Daniel and his younger siblings the ten commandments as we prepared them for God’s plan. You will not find us mentioned in the Bible, but we raised our children with love and dedication, teaching them about the Lord our God, the Holy One of Israel. Our goals for our children included a disciplined lifestyle, regular prayer time, and loyalty to God—concepts based on the ten commandments. I admit being very strict about some things, especially prayer and nutrition. My Danny-boy always ate his vegetables—the other kids, not often. Daniel learned everything so quickly and he loved to pray. To this proud Mama, my Danny-boy seemed to be a born leader.
When the Babylonian invaders kidnapped my Danny-boy and took him captive to their pagan nation, I became distraught. I never got to say goodbye, nor did I ever see my son again. Little could I imagine that God had orchestrated this for His good and His glory. I often thought of my forefather Israel. He saw his son Joseph again in that strange land of Egypt, decades after Joseph was presumed dead. Losing a son like that breaks a mama’s heart, but I had to keep going, raising my other children and still trusting God.
Sometimes, dear Mama, we will not understand God’s plan until we get to heaven. God may launch our precious children from home long before we are ready to release them. Yes, I questioned God, His purpose and His ways, but ultimately I realized that the Lord my God is worth trusting even when I don’t understand.
God’s Parenting Lesson
Check out my son’s book, the biblical book of Daniel. You will learn that he continued to live out the priorities my husband and I taught him. My Danny-boy faced a lot of adversity as a captive in a far-away pagan land, but our Holy One of Israel blessed and protected the Israelites in exile. Despite much opposition, my Danny-boy and his friends shone like bright lights in the darkness, living out their love for the Lord our God. Looking back now, I understand Isaiah’s writing:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
And so, dear modern mama, I want to encourage you. Keep training your child in the way God directs, according to the ten commandments, because you may never know what God has planned for them.
Love to you from Daniel’s mother