Wednesday, April 3, 2013

10 Steps for Equipping Your Children to Obey

While reading the Old Testament, I noticed how the LORD made it so much easier for His people to obey Him simply by practicing good parenting. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read Exodus 35-39, taking particular notice of the pattern God used when instructing His people. Many times, our commands for our children don't end in a blessing at all, but God's did. Let's take a look at how He made it easier for them.

1. He gave face-to-face oral commands

It is important for our children to hear us when we give them a command. I remember many times our children acknowledged they heard us from another room in the house, but didn't have a clue what we told them to do. Shut off the electronics, remove the ear buds, and make eye contact. If you miss this one, the rest won't happen.

2. He gave clear, detailed instructions

Never assume your kids know what you mean when you tell them to clean the bathroom or fold the towels. If you have never gone over how to perform tasks, then it really isn't their fault if it is not done the way you desire.

3. He put it in writing

The LORD even put it in stone, no less. Though it isn't necessary to get out a chisel, a simple list of procedures posted where they can see it might be helpful. If your children are too young to read, look for small pictures printed from online or cut from magazines illustrating what you want them to do. Paste them in order on a sheet of paper and post it at their eye level. A morning routine illustrating washing their face, combing their hair, and brushing their teeth might be posted near the bathroom sink.

4. He got their agreement to comply

Once you are certain they have heard and understood your expectations, it really doesn't go any farther than that if they aren't willing to comply. Answer any questions they may have, then ask if they are ready to obey what you have taught them. The only right answer, of course, is, "Yes, Mama."

5. Their chores were divided among many

"Many hands make light work." This is most often the case in tackling household chores, yard work, and special projects. Families blessed with several children may have older children work with younger siblings. Pairing up makes even the most unpleasant tasks so much more tolerable. Then, when you all work together, the work is done sooner and there will be more time to play together, too.

6. Tasks were assigned according to ability

Matching the particular aptitudes and abilities of each child with each chore is paramount. You might also ask each family member if they have a particular chore they just love to do and switch it with a sibling or parent who can't stand it. For instance, I just really don't like doing dishes, so after training the children in how to do laundry, I then traded my doing ALL of the laundry for them splitting up ALL of the dish duty.

7. He left room for creativity

Unless it's a project you want done in a particular fashion, let the kids have a go at it. If your kids like to sew, perhaps you could choose the curtain and pillow colors and let them pick out the fabric designs and patterns. If someone in your family has a green thumb, perhaps they could choose the layout and plants for your garden and landscaping. Someone talented with wood working could save some money by making shutters or window boxes for the house.

8. The tools and materials were provided

Whether it's cleaning the bathroom or building a shelving unit, be sure the children have all the tools and materials they need to get the job done. Have family members write on a magnetic eraser board on the refrigerator when supplies are running low, then add them to your shopping list so you never run out.

9. He took time to inspect

If the kids figure out you are only going to assign chores and then go spend the rest of the morning on your social media page, don't expect the results you desire. Inspections prove to them you truly care about and appreciate their efforts.

10. He blessed them with "Well done"

A word of blessing for a job well done is one of the most effective means of equipping your children to obey you. There's nothing wrong with correcting their errors. Just be sure to also include what they did right even if it is only how quickly they obeyed you. If they have at least put forth their best effort, then be sure to give them a face-to-face blessing of "well done." Smile when you say it and reinforce it with a hug.

I might add that, although this particular event referred to in Exodus involved religious observances commanded by God through their religious leader, these same principles may be appropriate for just about any authority-to-subordinate situation: parents and children, civil government and citizens, teacher and students, employer and employees, and etc.

Do you see any other principles of parenting in these chapters? Please feel free to share.