Many homes today put the children at the center of the home. Everything revolves around them, their wants, and their preferences. Of course when you have a baby in your home, you have no choice but to make them the center. But often we fail to allow them as they grow to move farther away from the center to the peripheral. Let me explain.
In the book, The Disciplines of the Home by Anne Ortlund, Anne makes a statement I had never heard, but totally agree with and have taught in principle:
“In the home, children should be on the peripheral.”
She goes on to say that if children are at the center, when they are removed, there is a huge gap in the husband/wife relationship. Do you think it’s remotely possible not to make your children the center of your home?
How does one go about not putting them in that place when they require so much time, attention and discipline?
Anne didn’t detail this point, but here are my thoughts –
- The children shouldn’t dictate what is going to happen in your home. “I don’t want to go to Pizza Hut for supper! I want to eat at McDonald’s” It’s not that they can’t make the choice sometimes, but when Mom and Dad have made a decision, it should stick.
- Mom and Dad need their own time. Children sleeping with their parents should be a rare occasion. Bedtimes give Mom and Dad an opportunity to talk, spend time together playing a game, or share a snack.
- Parents need a date night. Don’t let the children’s cries keep you from leaving them occasionally. Let them know you’re going away to make a better home for them.
- As the mom, recognize your husband’s needs and make sure you’re meeting those before doing extra things with/for your children. Are you always jumping up to do something for them, and don’t spend time just being with him?
- Be sure you’re spending your recreational times together as a couple and not making it the norm for one parent to be running here with one child, and the other taking another child there. Be a family.
We all know that children have many needs – especially when they’re little, but the tendency is to keep allowing them to be needy and being the very center of the family’s circle where the parents ought to be.
Take a good look at the circle of your family; who’s in the middle and who’s on the peripheral? Does there need to be a change?
I’m thrilled that gardening season is here! Each day I enjoy going outside and tending to each potted plant, window box and flowering bed. I pull off dead blooms, fluff the tender foliage so it will hang beautifully over the edge of the pot, and then give a gentle showering of water so it can soak into the roots, adding growth. From time to time I also add Miracle Grow – a plant food that speeds up the growing process and makes sure the plants are healthy. The results are beautiful!!
As we’ve talked all week about a child being saved, every one of the steps above, regarding tending a plant, could be applied to bringing a child to the place where they understand their need for Jesus Christ to be their Savior. We need to harvest the garden of their hearts so it will be their early understanding that they are sinners who are in need.
Making the plant application, let’s look at a few practical ways that parents can help their children get to that point early on in life.
- Pull off dead blooms – This involves seeing that something is in their life that shouldn’t be and literally “nipping it in the bud!” =) When they disobey, for instance, we don’t overlook it or redirect their attention to a “better option,” NO! That sin must be dealt with in a biblical manner. Even from the time they’re very young they should understand that obeying isn’t simply making mommy a happier person – obeying mommy means you’re obeying God! Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Galatians 6:1 Teach them that simple verse by saying it each time they disobey you.
“Disobedience is sin. Each time you disobey Mommy, you’re sinning against God. But God loves you. Let’s ask Him to help you obey.”
Using God’s Word as your guide, teach the child that what they’re doing is sin that makes God sad. “You needed a Savior so God sent Jesus to die for your sin!” You don’t have to preach a message, just those simple statements about God’s holiness (you didn’t say it that way, but that’s what you’re teaching) and His love, points them to their need for Jesus when they sin.
- Fluff the tender foliage. Encourage any tenderness the child shows towards their sin. Let them cry, but then comfort them and remind them that God loves them and so do you, and God wants to help them NOT sin. Any time they want to move forward in an invitation, or they ask questions in family devotions, encourage that! Listen. Answer their questions. Be supportive!
- Give a gentle showering of water to encourage growth. Sprinkle truths about God, His Word and the application of it through everything you do each day. It’s far more meaningful to see a mom live out the Gospel each day and share out of the overflow, than to occasionally get a “lecture” every now and then from an inconsistent life. Consider:
- Let thankfulness be in your words about God’s provision for your groceries, your home, your clothing…everything you have.
- Point out the beauty of God’s creation when you are outside. Speak Scripture – “The heavens declare the glory of God – Hey kids, how does that sunset tell about God’s glory?”
- Speak about what you learned in your Bible reading and how it applies to what’s going on at that moment.
- Whenever there is a need, stop and pray. Show your child that you’re dependent on God in every situation. – If you see an ambulance or a car accident, why not pray for those involved? If they’re anxious about a test they’re headed into school to take, stop and pray before they get out of the car.
- Be living out the Gospel by sharing it with others when you’re out, when people are in your home and at church. Your children need to see your example of a Christian who is a follower of Christ.
- Read Scripture with your child. I love the idea of reading the psalm of their age every night of that year! Most psalms in the early chapters are very short, so I imagine that both you and your child will have it memorized before the year is out!
- Add some Miracle Grow – Make sure your child is regularly in places where they will receive extra doses of the Gospel outside of your home – Sunday school, church services, revival meetings, Youth group, youth activities, and Christian camp. Don’t send your child to church services – go with them. Then send them on their way to the extra outings, praying that the Gospel will be proclaimed and their heart will be tender.
Tending to my plants is messy and daily. My hands end up covered with dirt, and if I neglect their care, you can only imagine the ugly results! The same also applies to the tending of our children’s spiritual needs. It’s a daily discipleship that is often messy and inconvenient, but the results aren’t just for a summer of glory – it’s for eternity, and it’s such a blessing to be a part of that! This is our heart as parents, is it not? ~
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. III John 1:4
God is the One who will bring the fruit. We just need to be faithful to plant and water, then leave the results with Him.
What are you doing today that will point your child more towards Christ?