“Teach me to do what you want, because you are my God. Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” – Psalm 143:10
The important task of teaching your children manners falls on the parents. It matters not if they are taught as a side note by a teacher at school or Sunday School. The first thing we need to remember is that good manners will not stick unless they are being modeled by the parent(s). Parents with bad manners produce children with bad or worse manners. So, children seem to pick manners up from example rather than instruction per say. Also, children with good manners generally have, if not a direct love and belief in God, at least a healthy respect for His creation. Good manners shows respect for people… there is a morality exhibited, a way to treat people. So parents must pass that along as well. In addition, good manners need to be reinforced. Until it becomes a habit of considering other people’s feelings, we tend to only consider our own and so the creating of good manner habits must push the individual against the current of me me me and that sometimes takes reinforcement with punishments. Next on the list is work ethic, a dying-but-I-wish-it-wasn’t thing in culture now. Having good manners requires some level of energy and the willingness to do work well. It also, in a similar vein, requires some self-sacrifice. Standing up while an elderly lady accepts your seat is a self sacrificing thing to do, a good deed, no heroic thing nowadays. You then have the follow up of standing until another seat becomes available or the duration of your wait. Horrors! However, along with the requirements and expectations of good manners, and reinforcement of it, there is also a fabulous twist you can bank on with your children. You can tell them with all honesty that they will always be rewarded for good manners and respectful treating of others. This is a true Biblical concept repeated in Scripture. When you do good things with no expectations in return, you will feel good but also will have a reward, either here on Earth or later in Heaven. And it is even better if your works are unappreciated because God blesses you more for those. These wonderful rewards and blessings promised for us are worth some discussions with our children about them. Sometimes the smile and thank you received will bless your heart or the job you get because you had such good manners in the interview will bless your pocket book, but regardless of those things, you make society better, uplift morale and make Jesus smile down from Heaven at you. Please, for all our sakes, take the time to model and teach good manners to your children. Your efforts are worth their weight in gold, literally in Heaven. 🙂
Way back around 1990, in the summer, a team of teenagers and adults embarked on a 2-week mission trip to London. After raising our support and spending 9 laborious hours in a flying tin can with many other sardines, we arrived at Heathrow airport. We walked with our luggage to the “tube” (subway) and arrived at our London destination or thereabouts. A double decker red bus finished the job and we arrived at the Church at Manor Way, our home for the duration of our visit. The church members were lovely and even had installed a shower in the impractically small (to us) bathroom so we could shower every day, which always seemed to make them laugh. Cleanliness was comical, which I find comical. 🙂 our mission was to go around for the first week there and pass out leaflets inviting all children to a Holiday Bible Club (like Vacation Bible School here). The second week we taught and acted, put on puppet shows and taught Bible stories and songs, etc. for said Holiday Bible Club. There were a lot of children who came but most seemed mildly enthused at best and I am pretty sure several of them were flipping us off (in their slang motions there) during the motions of one of the songs. Nonetheless, we were able to plant some seeds, however unwanted or unappreciated at the time, and we all managed to learn quite a bit about being in another part of the world for a bit and cultural differences. We also went away appreciating the vast expanse we enjoy here in the USA to stretch our legs and go to the bathroom for free and with soft toilet paper. It also made us appreciate gallons of milk. They buy it in tiny cartons at a time there. The children were intelligent and beautiful and were much like here in the states, rather crazy about whatever pop “icon” happened to be popular that moment without much thought into Spiritual matters. It was at the time very disturbing, but now we are much like that. It is imperative that we teach our children about the Lord and matters important to their Spiritual welfare and salvation through Jesus Christ. It is imperative that we treat this responsibility as if it were the highest calling from God for it is. We are not just here for us and money and material success matter very little in the scope of eternity. God loves humble obedience and faith and He charges us directly with the task of teaching our children about Him and His ways, reading the Bible and talking about it as we come and go and praying with them. It is not the church’s responsibility but it is our own. London reinforced this concept. And kids around the world will continue to feel lonely and melancholy without the teachings Christ gave us which give hope and depth to our existence.
When you want a steak, often any old steak will do, but sometimes you want the best. Then you order prime rib. And you get that delicious flavor that tells you, “Yes, you just paid way too much precious money for any red meat but it was worth every penny.” When I ponder parenting my two precious children, I want to be a prime parent. I want to be the best parent God ever made. Why? Because my kids are worth it? Well, that’s not it because every child is worth millions because God made and loves them and they reflect His awesomeness. Is it because my kids are better than any other kids? Nope, I am not that naive. They sure are good when I’m watching but time will tell what they end up doing when my back is turned. I want to be a prime parent for the same reason I want to mow the lawn excellently or cut my kids hair wonderfully or teach excellently. The reason is that I am working for the Lord and not anyone else whenever I do anything. If I’m called to take out the trash, I want to do it with all my heart. If I’m called to trim trees, I will strive to be the best tree trimmer. If I am given the task of rearing my children, I want to do it excellently. What does that look like? Probably not what you’d expect because every child is different and each one will rise to his or her own potential for their own motivation based on their own love language. Prime parents do not choose favorites but they choose paths for their kids to go down that suit them and their needs, drives and passions. And the whole while, prime parents teach all their children heavy doses of Biblical teaching based on love and prayers and hugs and kisses. Prime parents also don’t pamper but teach, don’t push but encourage, don’t criticize but instruct, don’t nag but are firm, don’t let their children rule the house but do make them feel important. I want to be a great parent because God is worth it.