home   message board   testimonials   order the book  

The Book

Underlying Principles

Teaching Obedience

Emotional Issues

With Character in Mind

The Parent's Part


Other Materials

Specific Problems

Your First Love

Family Commentaries

Elizabeth's Fun Stuff

Book Reviews

Favorite Books and Links

Family CommentariesExtra on Underlying Principles
The following comes from earlier material that eventually became part of the "Prerequisites" chapter of the book. I have retained this material here on the website, at least for now, because of the many emails I have received from those who have told me how much it helped them.


Here is my final conclusion: fear God and obey his commandments, for this is the entire duty of man.
For God will judge us for everything we do, including every hidden thing, good or bad. - Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 (TLB)

Looking for God's Will

Many Christians are searching earnestly for a specific godly "will" or "purpose" for their life.  They go to church, listen to sermons, pray, and finally open their Bibles.  As they begin to search God's word they read: "Be fruitful and multiply...." - Genesis 1:22, 9:1&7 (NAS), but they think to themselves, "That was for the people in those ancient times, not me.  The experts tell us our world now is overpopulated, so we had better stick to just one or two children".  They search further and read: "Wives, be subject to your own husband...." - Ephesians 5:22 (NAS), and they say, "That's outdated, we have a more enlightened way today.  All the marriage counselors say things should be fair and even, and no wife should have to obey her husband in everything.  Submission can't be God's will for me."  Next they read: "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently...." - Proverbs 13:24 (NAS), and they say, "I can't spank him; the pediatricians and child psychologists say that will teach him to be violent.  Beside, that verse was probably meant figuratively."  They read on and on and at last they close their Bibles and say, "I guess God's will for me is just not in here."  They've looked at God's words, but their eyes haven't seen them.  They've heard what God says, but their ears listen to human experts instead.  Their hearts seem to be toward God, but yet they are missing what is right in front of them - God's straightforward, simple will for their lives, that they learn to be like God. 


"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect."

- Matthew 5:48  (NAS)


Doing What is Right

When I think about the subject of God's "will" or "purpose" for my life, I do not think, as many Christians do, of some important occupation or of some great missionary endeavor.  Instead, I think more along the lines of doing what is the right thing to do in every situation all throughout my life, whatever that may involve.  When I search the Scriptures, I'm not looking for my name listed right next to some specific career path, instead I'm looking for guidelines to teach me right from wrong, and how to make wise and godly decisions in everything I do today and forever.  This is what I believe is God's will for my life - to please Him in everything I do.  To be like Him to the best of my ability.


"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

- Proverbs 3:6  (NAS)


Finding God's Will

So how do I find this simple will of God for my life?  In my experience, if I start with what God plainly directs me to do in His word, I won't have much trouble discerning His will.  It seems to me that the door to wisdom in this area often shuts when I know of a few things I should be doing, but I'm not doing them.  "But to the one who knows the right thing to do but does not do it, to him it is sin." - James 4:17 (NAS) and "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." - Isaiah 59:2 (NAS).  I would recommend to anyone who wants to find God's will for his life, to first stop doing what you know is wrong, then start doing the things you know for certain are right.  After that, continue to follow God's leading through the reading of Scripture, through prayer, and through godly counsel, knowing that God will keep His promises to guide His children in His will for them. 


"And your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right or to the left."

- Isaiah 30:21  (NAS)


If You Are Married

Where are you in your life right now?  That's the place to start looking for God's will for your life.  Since I am a married woman, I know that before anything else, God intends for me to be a good wife.  There are plenty enough Biblical instructions along this line to keep me occupied solely with this effort forever.  God has also blessed me with children.  Therefore I am very sure that His next desire for me is that I should raise godly children who will grow up to raise godly children themselves. 


"An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her� She does him good and not evil all the days of her life�She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue�She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness�Her children rise up and bless her; her husband {also,} and he praises her�"

- Proverbs 31:11-28  (NAS)


Right Purpose: Easier Effort

If you believe that God's will and purpose for you is, above and before all else, to be a good wife and mother, it will be easier to do whatever is required to be just that.  You'll look for satisfaction inside your home, not outside. You'll make your family your top priority.  You will believe that you can succeed in raising godly children who will grow in the love of the Lord their God, because you'll know that God will provide you with the ability to do whatever He has asks you to do.  Your family will be your passion in life, the source of your greatest joy in the Lord.


 However, if you are a wife and a mother, but are convinced of some other presumably greater purpose, then you will find yourself constantly struggling and frustrated with your role in your home and in life.  If you believe that mothering isn't really all that important, and anybody can do it, and no one can determine how their children will turn out anyway, and if you really need to prove your self-worth by doing something great outside of your home and away from your family - then I'd suggest you study the scriptures a bit more.  "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105 (NAS).  Look for God's will within His word, not within the words of the world.  In the end, it will be God's ways that bring you true happiness and satisfaction, not your own ways or the ways of the world.


"You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and {that} your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you."

- John 15:16  (NAS)


No Other Purposes Allowed?

Question:  I am wondering if you are saying that being called to, or having a definite sense of purpose, is always wrong?  Should we have no feeling of resolve or purpose about anything other than being a godly spouse and parent?  Or do you mean that people should not become obsessed with other purposes in life and forget to be godly first? Can't having a sense of purpose about various other things in your life go hand in hand with being a godly parent?


Answer:  I don't think it is wrong to have a definite sense of purpose about this or that as long as it is in agreement with God's will.  For example, if you are a mother of young children, I would question you if you told me that you were sure you should become a full time Christian worker (or anything else) outside of your home, in a way that would separate you from your children or be detrimental to your family.  I'd be inclined to think you were mistaken, and that this "calling" was not from God, or at least not meant to be implemented at the current time.


On the other hand, if you told me you felt compelled by God to do something that was good for your family, or something that could be done with your family - perhaps as an example to them, or something you could instruct them in - I'd be more likely to believe it was a God-given purpose.  I'd be most likely to believe you, if you could tell me that you believed that your overall purpose in life was to love your husband and devote yourself to raising godly children.


The real object of my thoughts when writing this is Christian young people who discount the "purpose" of being excellent spouses and parents, as they busily seek what they seem to consider to be higher purposes like a great career or even some special service to their church.  I believe God wants us to make knowing and serving Him in our everyday lives our highest calling.  If we are married, the first part of this is being devoted to our spouses and children and raising them to be godly servants of our Lord.  These should be our highest purposes in life and all other callings should be secondary.  It's fine for a man to believe that God has called him to be a doctor for example, as long as he recognizes that God intends him to be a good husband and father FIRST and a doctor second. I think it would be the same with any other "calling".

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

- I John 4:1  (NAS)


When You Have a Special Passion

Question:  I am really passionate about law enforcement. I am in an online college right now and I will become a reserve police officer this August.  I plan to do this for only a few hours a day, and only when my husband is home, so my two young children won't have to be watched by anyone else.  This isn't about wanting a job, it's just an incredible passion and hobby for me.  It's not about making money, because I'd do it for free.  Now I am starting to wonder if my passion contradicts who I am supposed to be as a mother and wife.  What are your thoughts on this?


Answer:  I would never consider leaving my children to work at a job for even a few hours a day if I didn't absolutely have to.  I believe God gave me the assignment of rearing my children full time.  That's why I homeschool.  That's why I don't put my children in daycare while I pursue other goals and interests.  That's why I don't hire babysitters so I can follow my personal interests.  If for some compelling reason I had to work outside the home - a disabled husband perhaps - then I would want my husband to be there to be the mom while I was working, if at all possible.


I understand your passion to do police work.  I am one of those people who are passionate about many things, including justice.  I volunteered several hours a day for several years, helping a wrongly convicted man get a new trial.  Still, I was at home for that, and on no particular schedule, so I could fit my volunteer work in where there was extra time.  I could always put rearing my children first.


There are many other interests I've had over the years that I just put on hold or decided not to pursue at all, because I had children at home.  I have been "horse crazy" since I was a little girl, but gave up riding after my second child was born because I just didn't have a good way to fit riding in with watching two small children.  Exercising was the same way.  For years I strongly desired to take a long walk everyday for the exercise, but couldn't figure out how to watch my children at the same time.  I didn't want to leave them with a sitter.  I'm their mother and I wanted to raise them, not let a sitter raise them.  Taking them with me didn't work.  So I didn't go.  Finally now, I have a workout place that I can go to where I can take all my children with me.  I had to wait over twenty years for that, but I am enjoying it greatly and my younger children are all with me and under my exclusive supervision.


Although I rarely do things outside the home, over the years I've done many things in the home:  sewing, cooking, knitting, quilting, crocheting, dog grooming, dog obedience training, cat breeding, gardening, violin playing, reading, writing, researching, and more.  If you want to get involved in police work perhaps there is some way you can become involved in the field, or something related, at home.  You wouldn't be out on the street arresting criminals, but surely there are other ways to support justice that can be done from your home until your children are older.


"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1  (NAS)


"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." - John 14:15 (NAS)

So many people resent authority today. I'm sure it's been a common attitude in every generation, but in my lifetime, there has been a surge in this type of rebellion among young people. During the sixties, an inordinate number of teens rebelled against their parents and rejected the values of the previous generation. Today a lot of those sixties children are parents. Because these parents are still dealing with their own lack of respect for authority, they are teaching the same attitude to their children. Many of these young parents embrace the belief that they have no right to expect their children to submit to their authority. They don't believe their parents had the right to tell them what to do, so they feel it is unfair to demand obedience from their own children. If this describes you, and you want to raise godly children, you will have to change that way of thinking. It is not consistent with scripture, where we are clearly taught to submit to those God has put in authority over us, and that starts with our parents.
"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves."
- Romans 13:1-2 (NAS)

We're all Under Authority
We are all under some kind of authority, whether we like it or not, aren't we? If the authority isn't our parents, it is our husband, or our boss, or the government, or our own conscience, and finally God. Whether we want life to be this way or not, that's the way it is. We have got to deal with the issue of authority and it is wise to learn to submit to appropriate authorities and to teach our children to do so as well. If you have authority issues with your parents or husband or others, it's time to straighten them out. First, get back under your proper authority, then address the issue of who has authority over your children. Hint: it should be the parents over the children, not the other way around. 
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
- Exodus 20:12 (NAS)
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.
- Deuteronomy 5:16 (NAS)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
- Ephesians 6:1-3 (NAS)
Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.
- Colossians 3:30 (NAS)

The Reason for Authority
Just as King Solomon sought to teach those under his authority the right way to live, so I believe God puts us in a position of authority over our children in order for us teach them self-control, wisdom, and ultimately godliness: the right way to live. As they learn these things from us, they will also be learning about authority itself. As we teach them respect for us, we will also be teaching them respect for the many other authorities they will have to submit to later in life. They will gradually be released from our immediate authority, but then many others will take our place. Our children will also someday be in authority over other themselves - employees, spouses, students, and their own children. It will benefit them greatly not only to know how to deal with authorities who are over them, but also how to exercise authority themselves.
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same.
- Romans 13:3 (NAS)

With Authority Comes Responsibility
Along with the authority we have been given as parents, we have also been given responsibility. We are commanded in Mark 10, not to "lord it over..." someone under our authority. We are also commanded "Do not provoke your children to wrath." We are commanded over and over throughout Scripture, to be fair and just, and merciful in all our dealings. This includes the way we exercise our authority as parents. As parents, we are in a position of authority, and are to exercise that authority in order to teach what is good. We are to do this teaching in a just and merciful way.
As we teach our children the concept of authority, how to submit to it, and also how to exercise it, we are also preparing them to be parents who will teach their own children the same. We are commanded to teach, nurture, love, etc.... our children and to use discipline, if needed, to do so. If anyone is not convinced that God wants them to assume authority over their children, please study the following verses, and the many other biblical passages that teach this principle.
"And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
- Ephesians 6:4 (NAS)

Authority Demonstrates Faith
"And when He had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, entreating Him, and saying, 'Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering great pain.' And He said to him, 'I will come and heal him.' But the centurion answered and said, 'Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, "Go!" and he goes, and to another, "Come!" and he comes, and to my slave, "Do this!" and he does {it}' Now when Jesus heard {this,} He marveled, and said to those who were following, 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.'"
- Matthew 8:5-10 (NAS)

Discipline is Endorsed by God
 Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death.
- Proverbs 19:18 (NAS)
 Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you beat him with the rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from Sheol.
- Proverbs 23:13,14 (NAS)
{He must be} one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)
- 1 Timothy 3:4-5 (NAS)
Discipline Shows Love
For whom the Lord LOVES He REPROVES, even as a father, the son in whom he delights.
- Proverbs 3:12 (NAS)
And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
- Ephesians 6:4 (NAS)
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.
- Revelation 3:19 (NAS)
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
- Proverbs 13:24 (NAS)
Discipline teaches wisdom
A wise son accepts his father's discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
- Proverbs 13:1 (NAS)
He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
- Proverbs 15:32 (NAS)
It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself, if his conduct is pure and right.
- Proverbs 20:11 (NAS)
A fool rejects his father's discipline, but he who regards reproof is prudent.
- Proverbs 15:5 (NAS)
Discipline increases health and quality of life
Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.
- Proverbs 29:17 (NAS)
O Lord, by {these} things {men} live; and in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health, and let me live!
- Isaiah 38:16 (NAS)
{It is} good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth.
- Lamentations 3:27 (NAS)
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
- Proverbs 29:15 (NAS)
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of day and years of life and peace they will add to you.
- Proverbs 3:1,2 (NAS)

At what age?

Question: I understand that when you assume authority over your child, you are also accepting responsibility for them and their spiritual welfare. So when does this end? At what age is it no longer your fault if your children go astray?
Answer: I believe the promise that says that if I train up my children in the way they should go, they will not depart from it. I also believe that each of us has a free will and can choose to do wrong, even if our parents are perfect (which none of them are). I know that at first blush, these verses may seem to conflict, but frankly, there are a lot of things in the Bible that I don't understand yet I believe. I know that God's thoughts are higher than my thoughts and He understands all these things perfectly, so I must believe even things that seem difficult, and trust God to sort it all out for me.
Although I believe every child has a free will, I think it is my duty as a parent, to examine MY role in this matter first. What is MY responsibility before God? Since I am a parent, I go to the verse with the promise for parents and I believe it and accept it and live by it. I will do the very best I can to raise my children to be godly, knowing that it will be, at least in very large part, my own fault, if they turn out awful. Of course, I realize that I am not perfect and I will make mistakes. Am I off the hook because I'm "just human"? No. It will still be my fault. I made the mistakes, so I am at fault. Those are the facts - if I parent badly, and it causes my children to turn from God, it will be my fault. I will accept the responsibility, and I will also pray that God will step in and grant me mercy and grace by compensating for the mistakes I have made. 
Well now as I said, I also believe that God has given each of us a free will. So when my children are grown (or even when they are young, for that matter) and choose to sin (all have sinned, as you know), it will be their fault. They chose to sin and they could have chosen not to. So however my children turn out, it will be their fault and it will be my fault. Both of us will be at fault. We will both share the responsibility for the choices we've made and the things we have done together as parent and child. Parents are responsible for how they raise their children and children for how they respond to the way they were raised.
So the responsibility for a child's sin is a shared one, with more weight on the parents in the early stages of life and more on the child in the later stages of life, but BOTH will be responsible. There is no magic age where the parents go from being totally responsible to not being responsible at all. If your five year old chooses to tell a lie when he knows it is wrong, it may be your fault for not training him better, but it is still his fault for not obeying the training you did give him and his own developing conscience. If your twenty-five year old chooses to take illegal drugs or to commit fornication, it may very likely be your fault for not instilling right values in him when he was younger, or for not teaching him how to avoid or resist temptation better, but it will also still be his fault for not listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit within his own heart regardless of his upbringing.
Back to the practical again, I can't do anything about the free will choices my child makes AFTER I've done everything perfectly myself. But until I am the perfect mother (which I will never be), I am going to take responsibility for what I have done that will contribute to the way my child turns out. (And I will let God worry about my child's contribution to the situation.) For all practical purposes, I do believe that how I train up my child can and will determine how he turns out. I will never shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well, I told him that was a bad idea and he did it anyway - it's not my fault." It is my duty to train him to think and act in a godly manner. If I do that, he will be brought very close to the God, and will be ready to listen when the Lord calls him to salvation and a life lived for Him.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it."
- Proverbs 22:6 (NAS)

Godliness vs. Salvation
Question:  How can we expect our children to be "godly" if they have not yet invited Christ into their lives with humility and submission? Maybe we should not use the word "godly" or "ungodly" with our children regarding behavior until we know that they have accepted Christ. We can still tell them that they were very polite or well mannered, but not godly. Do we want that child to grow up thinking that they are "godly" when in truth they are just using old-fashioned good manners? If they think they are godly already, what would entice them to believe they need Christ? What's wrong with telling a child that they are not Godly and cannot be Godly until they accept Christ? Then also telling them that even if they haven't yet come to know the Lord, you still expect wonderful manners and consideration for others from them?
Answer:  Godliness, as I am using it in this book, simply means being "like God". Kindness is an attribute of God, so when a person (even an unbeliever) is kind, he is being like God and hence "godly" - if just for that moment. It is the same with any other good behavior, thought, or attitude.
Now being entirely and wholly godly inside and outside involves salvation - personal repentance and submission to God's entire will. When our children are repentant and submissive (to us and therefore to God) in the small ways, this forms a picture of what it is like to be wholly submission to God later on in their lives when they have made the personal choice to do so.
I'm not a theologian so take that into consideration, but I have no problem using the term "godliness" when referring to the goal we are aiming at as we train younger children. (I do not tell my children they are "godly", by the way.) What I do not what to have happen, is for my children to think that the act of responding to a alter call at church, or repeating the "Sinner's Prayer" by rote, is going to make them instantly godly in terms of everyday living. Even when a person's repentance is sincere they will still have to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling" - Philippians 2:12. They will still have to resist sin in their daily lives and choose to behave in a godly manner, doing what is right every moment of every day. Even an unsaved child can learn to do this, and it is excellent preparation for their life under Christ later on.
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;"
- Ephesians 5:1 (NAS)

Can You Force Your Children to Become Saved?
Question: Are you saying that you actually believe that parents are responsible for bringing their children to the Lord? That it's a parent's fault if their children do not become saved? Do you really believe that if you parent your children well enough God guarantees that they will become saved?
Answer: Frankly, if I didn't believe that I could raise up godly children, I don't think I'd want children. If I thought it was like rolling the dice, I don't think I could bear to do it. It would tear me apart to lose even one of my children. (Which reminds me of the verse that promises that He will not lose ANY of HIS children.) I don't believe I can force my children to become believers. I do believe I can get them ninety-nine percent of the way there however, by raising them the way God would have me raise them. Let me ask you this question: Is there anyone who thinks that they could not persuade their young child (if they wanted to) to believe in Santa Claus? Why is it different with the Lord?
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given {them} to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch {them} out of the Father's hand. "I and the Father are one."
- John 10:27-30 (NAS)


"Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me," says the Lord Almighty.
- 2 Corinthians 6:17,18 (NAS)

The Importance of Separation
I do believe that a child can go astray even if his parents did everything right in raising him. None of us are perfect parents but even if we were, the child does have a free will just at Adam did, and we know that Adam choose to sin even though his parent (God) was perfect. Still, in most of the actual cases we hear about where children from godly parents today go astray, there are some obvious problems areas that got overlooked and became contributing factors to their children�s waywardness. We can only do the best we can do, but it's still wise to look at these cases and learn from them if we can. 
When children from godly homes go astray one of the main problem areas I look at is the area of outside influences. You can do a great job parenting every minute you are with your child, but if you are sending him away to school for six or more hours a day, don't expect that he won't be influenced by others there. The same thing applies when too many friends and activities are in the picture. TV can also be an overwhelming influence that can turn your child's heart away from you and from God. Even church friends and activities can be a wrong influence if discretion is not carefully applied.
Outside influences affect even small children, but they become especially serious in the teen years, when the problems they cause are not so easily overcome. This is why we see so much "teenaged" rebellion. These young people are at an age where they are beginning to think for themselves, yet are lacking in life experiences, and so are the most vulnerable to outside influences. This is when they need their parents nurturing and guidance the MOST, yet this is when most parents are cutting them loose and delivering them to less than the best kind of friends, and to liberal educators. 
Your child may have been taught godly habits and attitudes at home, but he is also being influenced when you are not with them. If you've allowed or encouraged this since the time your child was small, by the time he is in his teens he may be living with one foot in each of two different worlds - one godly and one ungodly. Eventually he will have to choose which one he wants to remain in, and it may not be the one you would want him to choose.
We are commanded to "Be separate".   The command is repeated in the New Testament as well as the Old. Keep your children separate from the world as much as possible when they are young. I don't mean that you should keep them locked indoors all day and never allow them to speak to another soul, but rather be sure you are with them to guide and protect them wherever you are, at home or away from home. When you do need to be "in" the world, take your children with you and teach them how not to be "of" the world. Teach them to resist temptations and to say "no" to the things you have already taught them are wrong. Do not give little children too much responsibility in this area too soon by letting them go off alone. Until they are older, it is your job to be with them and protect them from temptations they are not mature enough to handle. Be sure the values you have taught them are well instilled in them before you gradually begin giving them more freedom in this area. It is my belief that the age at which you release them from your protection is quite a bit older than most parents today believe it should be. 
"Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. "And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me," says the Lord Almighty."
- II Corinthians 6:17-18 (NAS) 


What About Socialization?
We are told that our children will not be properly socialized if they don't spend a lot of time playing with other children. Is this really true? Do our little children really learn to get along with other children (and later with adults) simply by being with other children? Do they learn, from other children, how to share and take turns? Do they learn how to be kind to one another? Do they learn to be loyal, and not to gossip, and to forgive, and to turn the other cheek, and to go the extra mile? I don't think so. Not from contact with other children all by itself. Especially not from unsupervised or poorly supervised contact. No, I believe that children learn good social skills (and good character) from the consistent teaching and discipline (and example) of the mature adults they are around most frequently. If a parent is not there with their child, teaching and supervising, their child will be learning from whoever is there. If their child is mostly with other children, then he will usually not be learning good skills. More often he will be learning poor social skills. After all, he will then be learning from other children who are, at best, still learning themselves.
And what about our Bible? What does it have to say about this issue of socialization? I often think about King Jehoash. Jehoash was kept hidden in the temple and raised virtually alone by one godly priest. He was surely not allowed to attended group classes or even to play with friends. He would have been discovered and his life would have been over. Until he was seven years old he was kept totally away from other children. What was the result? Jehoash, as least for many years until the death of the high priest who raised him, remained one of the godliest kings of Judah. He certainly was not a social misfit damaged beyond repair by lack of contact with other children. You can raise a socially well-adjusted child without an abundance of contact with other children. In fact, you can raise an exemplary child this way.
 "And Jehoash did right in the sight of the LORD all his days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him."
- II Kings 12:2 (NAS)

What About Witnessing?
When our children are placed in public school or encouraged to play freely and often with the neighborhood children, do they really do a successful job of winning their little friends to the Lord? Can they? I suppose it is possible, but I don't believe it happens often. I really think it is very rare. The little slave girl in the Bible was instrumental in winning Naaman to the Lord, but then again, Naaman was an adult, wasn't he? And she was forced into that situation, not willingly placed there by her parents according to any instructions from God. No, I don't think that's a good example of allowing our children to freely and regularly mix with many other children in order to evangelize them. God does want us to witness as we go out into the world, and I have no doubt that He wants us to teach our children to "always be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us", but God has instructed us to first train our children to be godly themselves. This includes protecting them from ungodly influences when they are young. If we do this, they will be the kind of witnesses that we will want them to be later on.
"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."
- Mark 16:15 (NAS)


Always Witnessing
I was raised a good evangelical Christian, therefore I always thought of "witnessing" as verbally sharing the plan of salvation with the lost. The older I�ve gotten, the more I have come to understand that there is far more to witnessing than that. Everything you do is a witness in some way, shape, or form. Every word you speak is a witness to what is in your heart. Everything you do shows what you believe. Your character especially, as you live your everyday life, reveals whether you are a follower of the Living God or not. Even if no one sees, the evidence will be there. It will be left as a witness.  
Don't be misled, others notice your actions and attitudes, not just the sermons you give them. Many will come and ask you directly, why you homeschool, or why you have so many kids, or better yet, they'll see your well-behaved and happy family and want to know what your secret is. "How do you handle all those kids without losing your temper?" is a very common question I get. Believe me, if your children are different (and they are supposed to be different), people will notice. They will want to know how you do it. That is your opportunity to witness verbally to the things they have already seen with their eyes. In that very real sense, your children are a witness for (or against) Christ whether or not you allow them to mingle freely with neighbors and classmates.
"�but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always {being} ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;�"- I Peter 3:15 (NAS)

But isn't it Okay Just When They are Little?
It seems pretty harmless to let toddlers and grade school aged children spend a lot of time playing with other children. How much trouble can they get into at those ages anyway? The big issues like drugs and promiscuity haven't even been touched on yet. But remember that your child won't always be young. There is no distinct line between "younger" and "older" - one blurs right into the other before you even notice. What will you do when you wake up one morning and find that your �younger� child has suddenly become "older"? Then how will you tell him that he can no longer hang around with so and so, or go where he wants with whomever he wants whenever he wants? He will be expecting fewer restrictions in these areas, not more. By then he will have formed many attachments to others outside of his family that can't easily be broken. All his friends will be gaining more and more freedom, but you won't have anywhere to go; at least not anywhere you want to go. The small things you were worried about concerning these friends will have grown larger, and you may also find that your son is no longer yours and it will be too late to claim him back.  

"And He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."
- Luke 17:1-2 (NAS)

What About Siblings?
Even siblings should not be allowed to play with each other unsupervised for long periods of time. Often the younger children are more influenced by their older siblings than even by their parents, and that may not always be best. It is my own God-given responsibility to raise my children, not the responsibility of their older siblings. I want my children to love each other, and be loyal to each other, and to regard each other as the very best of friends throughout their entire lives, but they most likely will not learn this on their own by playing together unsupervised. It is my responsibility to instill these values in them and I need to be watching them in order to do this.
Don't encourage your children to play alone where you cannot see or hear them. How can you teach and train them, and ".... bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." - Ephesians 6:4 (NAS), if you can't even see what they are doing? We only rarely allow our children to play in their bedrooms and never when other children are over. They know they must remain fairly close to us. This applies even when they are outdoors, and to our school aged children as well as our toddlers and babies. As our children reach the teen years they are naturally given more freedoms in all areas, but only as they have demonstrated that they are trustworthy and mature enough to handle them.
"Know well the condition of your flocks, {and} pay attention to your herds;"
- Proverbs 27:23 (NAS)


How Do We Stop?
So what do you do if you have young children and have already been permitting them to do more socializing than you now think is advisable? We were in that spot for a while, and what we did was make a new household rule that our children could not play with other children unless we were there to supervise. With this as our rule, we could at least maintain a certain amount of control over most situations. We could go along with our children if we wanted to, or we could always be "unavailable" if we wanted to avoid a certain situation completely. Since we still only had young children when we began this, there was no objection from them. We made a special effort to spend more time doing enjoyable things with our children ourselves, and they never seemed to notice the drop off in visits with neighborhood friends. 
We also removed our babies from the church nursery and our older children from Sunday school. We encourage them to want to worship with us in "big" church. We taught the Bible stories and sang Bible songs with them at home. Again, we replaced the things they had been used to, with ourselves. Interestingly, we had more problems with adult church members adjusting to our change, than we did with the children. If you do this, try to be sensitive to the feelings of teachers and others who may think you are criticizing the way they have been doing things for years. Remember the adage: Least said; soonest mended.
Question: My child is a teenager; can I still do this?
Answer: Yes. Although I haven't had any wayward teens myself, everything I have heard from parents who have reclaimed the hearts of their rebellious teens, indicates that removing these teens from their friends was the key to their success. It was difficult for the parents to get up the courage to do it, and they had to endure a few months of complaints and sulking, but eventually their teens turned their hearts back to their parents where they should have remained in the first place. Here is a comment from a foster mom of many who has had much experience with wayward foster teens: "Extreme tomato staking, removing all privileges, and cutting out ALL outside influences (including books) was what helped my teen girls on probation get control of themselves again and learn to prioritize and categorize their emotions. Cutting out everything else forced them to communicate with me and I was the only one in their life with a healthy view of emotions."
"...Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
- James 4:4 (NAS)

One of the greatest blessing of my life was the discovery of homeschooling. Traditional school, even Christian school, is the by far, the chief culprit when it comes to your children being exposed to wrong influences. If you are not now homeschooling your children, please consider it seriously.  Think of it as six more hours a day that you will be removing them from the negative influences of the world and will have to opportunity to influence them toward godliness yourself. Of all the good things we have learned and applied to our parenting, homeschooling one of the things that helped us the very most, in producing godly children. 
When you eliminate traditional school, you eliminate ungodly teachers, peer pressure to do wrong, friends with low moral standards, books that teach wrong values, and far more. Your child is always learning something. You can't stop him from learning and you shouldn't want to, but you should want him to be learning good and profitable things, not immoral and ungodly things. You should want him to learn godly values, standards and beliefs, not those of the secular world. You are his parent, and it is your job to teach him these things. How can you do this when he is not with you? If you aren't teaching him, then someone else will be teaching him. If you are not influencing him, then others will be. "Let them (your children) be yours alone, and not strangers with you." - Proverbs 5:17 (NAS). God gave your children to you, not to others to raise, train, and teach. He does not ask you to do more than you are able to do, so know that you are equipped to handle this task. Keep your beloved children with you. Do not turn them over to the influence of others for the majority of their waking hours every day. Nurture them, train them, and educate them "as unto the Lord", not according to the ways of the world.
"And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another."
- Romans 15:14 (NAS) 


A Few Verses on Separation
Maybe you will say that the following verses are for adults, not children but consider this: if adults are in danger of suffering from evil influences, aren't children that much more vulnerable?
"Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord.
- II Corinthians 6:17 (NAS)
This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
- James 1:27 (NAS)
Do not associate with a man given to anger, or go with a hot-tempered man, lest you learn his ways, and find a snare for yourself.
- Proverbs 22:24,25 (NAS)
And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him."
- I Kings 18:21 (NAS)
"And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
- Ephesians 5:11 (NAS)



"And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
- Joshua 24:15 (NAS)
What to Expect from a Child
When my first child was still small I was confused about what to expect from him. Information from the "experts" confused me even more. It seemed to me that according to the "experts" we parents should really not expect too much in terms of good behavior from our young children. Apparently we, as parents, were just supposed to keep them from hurting themselves and tolerate everything else - without losing our tempers of course. But I really couldn't see how that fit with godliness. How could what was wrong for an adult be right for a little child? I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to throw out this 'expert' advice and decide on what standards I really wanted to live by, and expect my children follow suit.
 "It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right."
- Proverbs 20:11 (NAS)


First Things First
Before you start setting standards, first you must establish your God given authority over your child. That means you have to commit yourself to expecting nothing less than first time obedience from your children. No counting to three. No negotiating. Your requests of them should be reasonable; then you should expect them to obey you and train them to do so.  If you haven't done this already, pick a day and start. Start without entertaining the option of going back. Decide that from now on you are going to devote yourself to establishing and keeping the right order of authority in your home.
If you have a toddler, the easiest thing to do is to choose one thing your child is usually uncooperative in, and start there. Require him to do that one thing and don't give up until he does it in the nice way you'd really like him to. Suppose your two-year-old only comes to you when he wants to. That's not the way it should be. A two-year-old is perfectly capable of coming when called, so start there. Call him and expect him to come this time. Don't give up until he does (with a good attitude). Then decide what you want to have happen as you enter every other situation, and make it happen. I know that sounds way too simple, and yet impossible at the same time, but it really is simple. We'll get to the details of how to do this in the upcoming chapters, so for now just believe it can be done.
"Depart from evil, and do good, so you will abide forever."
- Psalm 37:27 (NAS)

Children Can Behave 

Once your child has been taught to obey you, don't be afraid of setting high standards. You should be fair and reasonable of course, but the standards and expectations of most parents are much too low. Children don't have to throw tantrums. They don't have to whine to get their way. They don't have to talk back. They can sit still in church. They can obey you the first time you ask. They don't have to be mean to their brothers and sisters. They can learn to be helpful and kind. It's up to you to determine what specific standards you will set, but please do not excuse bad behavior in your children just because they are young. They are very capable of learning these things and much more. Children are not born knowing how to behave well - it's up to you to teach them, so raise the bar and teach them to be the way you'd really like them to be.
If you don't have any idea how your children should be expected to behave, start with any behavior you dislike and don't allow it. When you see it happening, stop it. After you decide what you don't want them to do, decide what you do want them to do. Even if it is just to sit on the couch and do nothing, that is better than having no control at all (and while they are sitting, they might learn to observe and to listen). If you are afraid that you won't be able to think of enough things to keep your children (usually the little ones) busy, try writing down a list of things that they are capable of doing, such as various chores, reading, coloring, playing, practicing piano, and so forth, and keep this list handy.  
When setting standards for young children, remember to only require them to do what they are able to do; but also remember that they can be godly children. When I see a questionable behavior in my children I ask myself, "Would this behavior be acceptable in an adult?" If not, then I teach them to act differently. Isn't that exactly what my job as a parent is? To train my children to eventually become godly adults? So I aim in that direction all the time. Decide how you would act as an adult and aim at teaching them to do as you would do. Start with at action but aim at the heart. You will have to adjust for their abilities and level of understanding, but you will be surprised at just how much young children can understand if you are willing to teach and train them.
"The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him�."- Proverbs 31:1 (NAS)


Some Of Our Basic House Rules
It helps, when setting standards, to have some general household rules; just don't become a slave to them. Always use common sense and be flexible as needed. Here are some of the general household rules we have at our house. We don't really keep checking a list, but these are just things that come up all the time. Each child has learned that there are a few exceptions to these rules, they always need to think and use common sense. If you focus to much on rules, your child will never learn to discern right from wrong for himself.
1. Stop what you're doing, say, "Coming," and come when you hear your name called.
2. When Mom asks you to do something say, "Okay, Mom", with a GOOD ATTITUDE and do it.
3. When someone else says something to you, look at them and respond politely. This applies when meeting new people as well as family and friends.
4. Say, "Please," "Thank you," "You're welcome," and "Excuse me" when appropriate.
5. Don't interrupt (unless the house is burning down or similar). Stand quietly by Mom until she notices you and asks you what you want. Say, "Excuse me", if you must interrupt.
6. When you are done doing something Mom asks you to do, come to her and ask if there is anything else she would like you to do.
7. If you see something that needs to be done, do it even if it isn't your job. In fact, LOOK for things to be done.
8. Leave the bathroom (or any room really) the way you found it or better.
9. Always do your job plus a little more than your job.
10. No running or acting wild indoors. This includes climbing on the furniture, screaming, wrestling, and so forth.
11. No touching the walls or windows unnecessarily (they stay a lot cleaner that way).
12. Don't do anything that damages anything.
13. No bickering.
14. No touching each other as in pinching, poking, tickling, etc.
15. No unnecessary noises like, humming, whistling, drumming your fingers on the table, etc., around other people who might be annoyed by it.
 "I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My ordinances, and observe them."
- Ezekiel 20:19 (NAS)


When You Go Out
Be consistent with your standards whether you are at home or whether you are out. If you have trained your children to behave courteously at home, you won't have much trouble with their behavior in public, but what I�ve found sometimes happens with me, is that I do not become aware that they need work in a certain area until I�ve been embarrassed by their behavior in public.  
Because of our rather unique lifestyle, there are times when we end up going out to eat as a family very frequently. When we do, our children are expected to act as an adult would. They are not to crying, whine, or play with their food. They should have decent table manners according to their age. They must be as quiet as the restaurant calls for, and they may not get up out of their seats and run around. This last rule applies to church banquets also. It is nice to be in a place that you feel is safe and friendly, but don't let your children annoy others just because it is fun for them or easier for you than correcting them.
Having your child sit quietly in public meetings can and should be accomplished. Practice at home if you need to, by having them sit quietly beside you while you visit with someone else, or sew, or read aloud, (not necessarily to them). Let the little ones fall asleep, but the older ones should be expected and taught to listen to casual adult conversation, as long as it is not private or inappropriate. All of our children have attended weddings, funerals, business meetings and the like, without disturbing anyone. If there is any doubt about how they will behave, I sit where I can quickly get up and take them out. By the time they are one year old, or at the latest, one and a half years old, you should not have to do this. Well before this time, they should be obeying you and know how to sit still for a while. Teach them (at home) what a finger held up to the lips means. One slightly stern look from you should be all it takes to stop the slightest hint of potential trouble. (Don't wait until the trouble is in progress.)
Since we go out to eat so often, we get the chance to observe the public behavior of many children. It is astounding! While their parents try to converse or eat, the children are doing their best, with great success, to thwart their efforts. Every second or two, mom or dad must stop and try to control some crisis. First Junior won't agree to sit where his parents want him to. His folks give in, hoping to keep him in good spirits. Next, his parents let him make his own food choices but of course he doesn't like anything on the menu. Although Mom has brought along what amounts to a toy store, Junior insists on playing with anything else he can reach, then systematically dropping each item on the floor. Usually a spill or two occurs, not to mention that Junior is by now covered with food from head to toe. Ultimately screaming and crying occurs, which some parents actually seem to be able to ignore, while others cut their meal short and vow never to eat out again.
You really don't have to live this way. Dinnertime is truly a pleasure for us, especially at a restaurant where I don't have to cook or clean up. Everyone gets to eat something different if they want and then we can just relax and discuss the events of the day. We use this time to talk about anything and everything. We talk about our blessings of the day. We talk about our plans for tomorrow. We enjoy each other's company. Since we have a lot of children we assign each one of the younger ones an older "buddy" who sits next to him or her and helps them. The littlest ones, who need the most watching, sit close to mom and dad. Everybody learns to use his napkin and say "please" and "thank you." The best part is the frequent compliments our children get on their behavior from total strangers!
"The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother."
- Proverbs 29:15 (NAS)


Nipping It in the Bud
One of the most important aspects of setting standards is remembering not to overlook the little things. If you are constantly in the habit of doing the right thing with every little thing, you will have an easier time when the big things come along. If you refuse to allow the little sins in your life, they won't have a chance to develop into big sins. The same applies to your children. If you correct your children for small acts of disobedience and little displays of bad attitudes, they will never get to the point where you have to correct larger problems. Set your standards with this in mind. It is not okay for little children to lie a little, or cheat a bit, or talk back once in a while, just because they are young. Teach them the right way to live and think when they are little while it is easy, and you won�t have to try later when it is hard.  

"Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom."
- Song of Solomon 2:15 (NAS)


Standards Of Godliness For Children
Focus on the heart, not just the outward actions. Setting high standards for behavior and training your children to adhere to them is wonderful and right, but it's not enough. What goes on inside the child is far more important than his outward actions. God wants "godly children" from marriage. The Living Bible paraphrases Malachi 2:15 like this: "You were united to your wife by the Lord. In God's wise plan, when you married, the two of you became one person in his sight. And what does he want? Godly children from your union." Abraham was the beginning of the Jewish race from whom Christ came. Because of Abraham, God chose these people to be his favorite people. The Old Testament Scriptures promised that the entire world would be blessed through Abraham. What a great honor was given to this family, and the Bible clearly tells us why God chose Abraham for this purpose: "For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him." - Genesis 18:19 (NAS). So, it is my job as a parent, to not only produce children who look like Christians on the outside, but to raise children who have godly hearts on the inside.
My hope as a parent, is to raise godly children who will in turn, raise godly children who will in turn, raise godly children, and so on forever. I desire to teach them to believe in God, to love Him, and to keep His commandments. This involves teaching them respect for God given authorities (such as parents), and teaching them to resist or avoid temptations. It especially involves teaching them to have godly character attitudes, such as kindness, gentleness, joyfulness, wisdom, common sense, integrity, honesty, humility, self-control and more. It is not enough for me to just be a good example myself. It is not even enough to teach my children to read their Bibles and go to church. I must pass on a genuine love for God and desire to do all He asks. This all begins with the teaching of obedience and respect for their own parents.  
Love God with all your heart. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
- Deuteronomy 6:5 (NAS)
Love your neighbor as yourself.  "Teacher, which is the great commandment of the law?" And He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost Commandment. The second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
- Matthew 22:36-38 (NAS)
Love good and hate evil. "Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate!"
- Amos 5:15 (NAS)
Know and keep God's word. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments".
- John 14:15 (NAS)
Be pure in heart. "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."
- 2 Chronicles 16:9: (NAS)
Obey your parents. "Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth."
- Ephesians 6:2-3 (NAS)

(c) Copyright 2007 L. Elizabeth Krueger.  All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.