By Paula Miller
Every family -- no matter their race, religion, or background, has an established set of family rules. These can vary from the universal golden rule (do to others as you would want them to do to you), to wiping your feet on the rug and no jumping on the furniture. These rules are put into place for the purpose of running an efficient household and are encouraged to be obeyed. Of course, in our less than perfect world, something can always overturn our ideally balanced lives and send us flying into a mass of confusion.
For instance: Suzy comes over to play and since her family rules say nothing about wiping her feet at the door, she tromps through the house leaving a muddy trail, and proceeds to tell you the cat did it. Then, after dinner, she calmly bounces the bed to pieces.
Soon your little offspring are balking at the rules that have been lovingly enforced since the beginning of time. (Albeit, the beginning of their time.) They 'test' you with the phrase, "Suzy's mommy and daddy let her jump on the bed". To them this is a simple remark, but to you it's a testing of your time-honored regulations.
I imagine every parent has had to deal with a similar plight. This is when the question arises - How am I going to handle it? As Christian parents our minds do not have to draw blanks, we have the answers to all life's problems, great or small, at our fingertips.
God did not inspire men to write the Bible so that it could simply gather dust on our bookshelves, but to be used as an instruction book for life. The subject of raising children is addressed many times, and as in this case we find many verses to start us solving this riddle in the correct manner.
We can encourage our children with such passages as found in Proverbs 4:1&2 which tells them, "Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; For I give you good doctrine, do not forsake my law." (NKJV)
Another favorite is found in Proverbs 22:6. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."(NKJV)
Both of these verses are excellent examples in making sure our children follow God's rules, which should be ours as well. Even if Suzy comes over and destroys the semblance of order we've created, we simply need to consistently bring our children back to God's word. The Ten Commandments are in essence the beginning of God's 'rules'. Honor thy father and thy mother, and thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house(or essentially anything that is someone else's - whether material items or rules.)
Covetousness is also addressed numerous times throughout scripture and in some cases this may need to be brought to your children's attention during their 'testing' phrases when their wants and desires reflect what others possess. "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV). You respect those who are honest and straightforward with you, so will your children when you are honest and straightforward with them.
Just as someone else has raised their children to follow specific family rules, so have you taught your children. An explanation for the reasoning behind the rules you enforce will help your children grasp their importance. Define the reasons why they need to tell the truth - because it is a sin to lie and eventually no one will take anything they say at face value. Outline the logic behind the rule for not jumping on the bed - because it will ruin the mattress, and someone could be injured. Even if they need you to explain this over and over, you will be showing them that there is no wavering. Ultimately you will be showing them how God's rules never waver either.
Children learn from us. If we make sure we use God's word to train them, we have started them on a path that leads to fulfillment in our daily lives and in theirs. Rules are merely a part of the package that trains them for a life as God's children.
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