“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
A few weeks ago I took a wild chance: I bundled all seven children remaining at home (my seventeen year old would probably not appreciate being referred to as a child, but there it is!) and we headed somewhere we hadn’t been in awhile: our local art museum. Since I had children stairstepped down to two years old, I knew I needed a bit of an angle and they’d need a reason to pay attention, so our first stop was the gift shop. I chose seven postcards featuring art currently hosted by the museum, handed them out, and off we went, with each child in charge of finding the subject of his or her card. We had a great time. And though the visit was shorter (and a bit noisier!) than I would have been able to enjoy alone, it was a great time together and one they’ll hopefully remember fondly.
Chapter Eight is full of great thoughts about the way we train our children as we live together at home. Sally focused here on four specific areas …
Cultivating Real Skills
Because families and children are so different, each family has a unique opportunity to define their own particular heritage of skills to be shared with children—skills the parents already possess and want to pass along, skills the parents value and are willing to hire a teacher for, or skills the parents agree to pay for because of special interest on a child’s part. Learning to play sports, speak a foreign language, cook, farm, garden, work on cars, play an instrument … these are just a few examples of skills that can enhance the lives of children.
Cultivating Appropriate Life Experiences
Exposing children to many different life experiences—within the context of family relationships and parental teaching—is essential to broadening their understanding, their interests, and their compassion. If we want to train our children to help bring God’s kingdom into the world, we need to prepare them by letting them come along with us as we reach out to others.
Cultivating Manners and Graciousness
I am convinced that mothers have a lot to do with the manners of their children. And yes, I am really talking about yet another set of real-life skills. No child I know is naturally polite, thankful, and prone to take the initiative. No child instinctively knows what to do in a social setting. And yet a child who doesn’t know how to act with others will suffer socially the rest of his or her life! Cultivating our children’s manners and gracious attitudes not only makes them more pleasant to live with, but it also helps give our children a platform of confidence on which to build their future lives.
Cultivating Appetites for Excellence
As a person’s palate is trained to enjoy the foods he has been accustomed to, our midns tend to prefer those things that were introduced to us at an early age. This is what I was trying to do in exposing our children to quality literature … expanding this principle to include the best in art, music, toys, videos, movies, and computer games has helped determine how we would invest our money and what “things” would best serve our purposes. We want to fill our home with what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise.”
Something to Read:
Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.”
How does providing your child with real skills give him or her the opportunity to excel in life? What does this verse imply as far as your daily work as a mother?
Something to Try:
Spend some time hunting down local opportunities to expose your children to excellent things! Choose three such places—perhaps a museum, historical site, a theatre—and schedule times to visit one each month for the next three months.
To Discuss in the Comments:
What are some “excellent things” your children have learned to enjoy with you?