Train Up a Child

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”    Proverbs 22:6

Remember potty training?  Each of my children learned to use the potty at different rates.  One took a few weeks, one took a few months and one little stubborn redhead took a year or so.  The reward system I used was this:  One M&M for pee, 2 M&Ms for poop.  Simple, yet effective.   As trying and messy as those days were, potty training was simply a warm up for the rest of my mothering life!  And during those toddler years, discipline was simple (in retrospect)!  Time outs and quiet time in bed were NOTHING compared to what’s going on in this house now.

The preteen and teenage stage is much more complicated.  Now, there are iPhones to monitor, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram accounts to monitor.  Parental settings are needed for the T.V. and the internet.  When the rules are broken, consequences must still be enforced.  Phones are confiscated, Xbox power cords are taken, T.V. is banned, internet privileges revoked.  Those kicking and screaming toddler fits are replaced with sulking, nasty looks, and “Do My Parents Hate Me” quizzes on the internet.  When I was a kid, I was sent to my room as punishment.  Now,  “Get out of your room and come downstairs with the rest of the family,” is a punishment.  Geesh.

In this house, you break the rules, you abuse your phone, T.V.  and internet privileges, there WILL be consequences to pay.  Go read a book, play some chess, go make a snowman.   Do I enjoy removing the seemingly only joy in a teenage boy’s life (his electronics and phone)?  No, of course not.  I get no pleasure in inflicting this “torture” upon my child.

In this house, there is no such thing as privacy…I mean, go take a shower by yourself and get changed by yourself…but that’s about it.  Your bedroom is MY bedroom, your phone is MY phone.  I’m paying for it and I will monitor what communication is communicated through it.  The same goes for your laptop, PSP, netbook, Xbox, and every account you are signed up for.  Do I enjoy being on constant watch for the welfare of my children?  No, of course not.  It’s time consuming.  But it’s vital.

In this house, we believe in listening to uplifting music.  We believe in watching wholesome and inspiring movies and T.V. shows.  Violence, sex and foul language are not approved for the eyes, ears and minds of my children.  Once in a while, something inappropriate will be on T.V. or in a movie we’re watching…the channel gets changed or the T.V. is turned off.  Is that convenient?  No, especially when you’ve rented the movie from Xfinity or Netflix.

I may sound like a drill sargent, but I take my responsibility as a parent very seriously.   Checking my kids phones and search histories is a pain, but it’s necessary.  Do it, parents!  Yes, your child may be mature and trustworthy, but they’re still kids.  The human brain does not even fully develop until the age of 20.  Teenagers are poor decision makers, no matter how responsible they seem.  It is still our job as parents to watch out for them!  Who is your kid texting?  Who is your kid skyping?  Who is your kid playing video games with online?  What movies and T.V. shows are they watching when you’re not around?  Be vigilant, moms and dads!  Your child’s future depends on you!

Did you know that teenage boys who are exposed to pornographic images have a high risk of becoming addicted to pornography and sexual vices as adults?  Do the research!  It’s true.  Ask any man, “When did you first view porn and how did that affect you?”  I guarantee you, the first picture of a naked woman’s body they ever saw is seared into their mind.   I don’t mean to ruffle any feathers here or offend anyone.  I’m just being real.  This is the world we live in.  Don’t let your guard down.  Don’t be lulled into apathy because you’re too busy with life to stop and engage in your child’s world.

Know who your daughters are talking to.  The sex trafficking industry is in OUR country.  Daughters of normal, all-American families are taken.  How?  Because parents are out of touch with what’s happening in their child’s life, virtual and real.  The internet and smartphones are a real danger if not monitored properly.  Research it.  It’s happening.

You wouldn’t hand over a loaded gun to a little child, would you?  A smartphone, laptop or facebook account can be just as deadly to a teenager.   Train them to use it and keep a watchful eye.

I will continue to NOT allow my 9 and 11 year old daughters to dress in clothes that make them look like teenagers.  I will continue to encourage them to play with baby dolls and Barbies.  Why do we force our daughters to grow up so fast these days?  There’s no way you’ll catch my girls taking pictures of themselves making the duck face and posting it on the internet!  I teach them to be beautiful on the inside first and to be modest in their outward appearance.  Sounds old-fashioned, huh?  I don’t care.  It’s for their protection and the maintenance of their innocence.

My kids are MY responsibility.  God has entrusted me with His precious gifts.  It’s up to me to be a wise steward of what He has given me.  Life would be easier for me if I let my kids do as they please and avoid conflict and confrontations with them.  But, my desire is for them to flourish into whole, loving, responsible and Godly adults.  That’s my job.

If you’ve been searching for purpose in life and you have children, here’s your sign.  Your purpose is to raise those children in the way they should go.  Teach them and train them while you have them under your roof.  Once they are gone, they’re gone.  Don’t look back and say, “I wish this and I wish that.”  Be a diligent and vigilant parent now!

I’m far from being the perfect parent.  I’ve messed up plenty.  And when I do, I apologize to my kids and my God.  With the grace of God filling in the gaps for me, I have the hope that my children will love the Lord and make a difference in their world.

Being a mom is sometimes a tough and thankless job, but it is also the most rewarding job of my life!  I thank God daily for my little blessings!

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