Sunday, July 20, 2008

Character first- but how?

We all know that character is first and most important in raising your children, not academics, not accomplishments, not creativity.... but character. We all set out to accomplish this daunting task and soon run into the absolute impossibility of this idealistic approach. It is not as easy as it sounds and most often we run into both the sin nature of our children and the battle for our own obvious lack of character. The two worlds collide as we realize that our own character training may not have been as thorough as we may have thought.

Furthermore, the thing that I have most objected to over the years in the homeschooling arena is everyone seems to say that character is supposed to be first in their children's training but no one seems to say how to do that. We really do not know what that means in the application of everyday life.

After raising two great kids and two more almost ready for the world, I can now say that raising children with the principles of honesty, integrity, perseverance, determination, thoroughness, respect, etc, is not easy, but it is simple.

In one word, it is relationship. We are all made for relationship (with God himself and also with each other) but our sin nature pushes us to hide from relationship and especially accountability in those very relationships that we treasure the most. Nevertheless, as you are raising our children jealously guard those important relationships. Let nothing come in between you and your child.

(Warning-peer and age segregated activities may be the number one threat.) (more on this later, in another post)

When you blow it, loose your temper, or selfishly push them away, etc, apologize and get this slate cleaned quickly. Make sure you do not repeatedly offend or they will not believe your apologies. If you can retain that precious respect you child has for you then you will be able to speak into your child's life much easier as your child gets older. In fact, the ability to which your child accepts difficult instructions or corrections from you is the degree to which you hold his heart.

Keep in mind always that your child wants - no - needs a relationship with you, even if he does not show it. Some personalities are very appreciative and expressive and the need for relationship is obvious. Others are less demonstrative but need you nonetheless. This principle has held me on track many a time when I felt so overwhelmed with the hopelessness of one of my children getting the lesson I am trying to have him master. Overtime it will be the strength of the relationship that will cause the weight and pressure your child will need to reach out and grasp perseverance or obedience or whatever you may be working on, when you expect it of him.

Let us not become weary in well doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore as we have opportunity (while our children are still under our roof), let us do good, to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (our children)

Galatians 6;9

How about any one's experience? How have you been able to teach character and still maintain relationship with your children?