Helping Our Children Walk in Wisdom…Self Control

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“Ponder all the life-implications of a well-controlled adult and see if he will not look back on his devoted mother with all the gratitude his life can muster and attribute to her the bulk of his earthly successes!”

Mothering became a full time job I knew I had to devote my life to when I began to look at Scripture and understand my responsibility to impart spiritual wisdom to my children. That it was more than crayons and protecting them from germs and making sure they ate enough carrots: it was a dividing line between what others expect and what God requires.

This “imparting of wisdom” is not just a nice parenting term to toss around; it plays itself out day by day, hour by hour, in the details of life. Someone is daily beside our children pointing them to wisdom or foolishness, teaching them in all things, whether right or wrong.

Anyone home all day with little ones (who understands this idea of imparting wisdom) knows the enormous time and mental energy it takes to raise children. My sister-in-law and I discussed parenting issues the other day and I thought as we talked, “it’s no wonder motherhood–24-hour motherhood–is so unpopular….it’s hard!”

Do hard things.

These verses we read this morning are just one small area that spoke volumes to me about my responsibility to teach my children to walk in wisdom:

“Who is wise among you?  Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom….For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work….But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”

Boy if that’s not chocked full of parenting! After all, how does a person learn “good conversation” full of meekness and gentleness and willing to yield? Because believe me, my children didn’t come that way. I’m not wired that way. It’s a daily seeking of life-changing wisdom by all of us! Me from my Father, and my children from me.

The Lord has really been showing me lately the importance of our speech–the words we say, and especially how we say them. If you listen closely, children do what comes naturally…they use volume and intensity to get what they want. Sometimes they use threats and insults. It’s a simple matter of a lack of self-control mingled with sinfulness. As we point to the sin of it, God begins a work in their hearts. In the mean time, we help them with habits that will meet that work. Self-control is not usually common to us; it is a trait that must be learned. (And unfortunately, a very important trait that many never learn that later has devastating consequences in their lives.) That one trait can take years! And mothers, we are the primary catalyst for that transformation in our children. Sorry, we just are, as heavy as that is.

Let’s get practical…

The earlier you can start working on self-control and its practical applications the better. Sometimes a 7 or 8 month-old infant can demonstrate anger during a diaper change and a gentle speaking to her will begin to train her to understand self-control.

Do you have a 1 or 2 year old that has begun his natural responses to not getting his way? Does he scream or hit when another child has something he wants? Begin to replace his natural reaction with a wise one.   (And discipline him when it becomes defiance or disobedience to your instruction.) Show him the right response, the right words, the right behavior. Tell him “No, don’t say….if you want that cup say….”

I’m trying to work with my 3-year old, specifically on her tone of voice. Again, it’s quite natural to raise her voice when she’s frustrated (it’s natural for me ;-)) but by stopping her when I catch it, and simply demonstrating a more controlled response helps her to train herself to display self-control.

And, beauty of motherhood, if I’m aware of my job to teach these traits to them, I must, myself, be given to exercising self-control and gentleness.

This one thing–responding to life with self-control–could it be the very foundation of pointing our children to joy and contentment in life? Ponder all the life-implications of a well-controlled adult and see if he will not look back on his devoted mother with all the gratitude his life can muster and attribute to her the bulk of his earthly successes!

“He who walks with the wise will become wise; but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Originally written by Kelly Crawford of Generation Cedar. Used with permission.