The subtitle of this book, “A mom’s look at heart-oriented discipline” is the perfect description of why this is one of my favs when it comes to child-training. Ginger Plowman combines her witty writing style with the truth of God’s Word to help moms learn how to use Scripture as the basis for the training and discipline of their little ones. She has packed the book full of specific Scripture references and helpful advice on how to come alongside and help our kiddos see the sin in their hearts and their need for a Savior. Some quotes to get ya started…
“God’s Word has plenty to say to parents if we diligently read it, apply it, and reap its fruit. Truly, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2Pet. 1:3).”
“If we are to really help our children, we must work backward from the behavior to the heart. We must be concerned with the attitudes of the heart that drive his behavior. We do this by communicating with our children in such a way that they are caused to not only understand a Christ-like attitude, but that they learn how to flesh it out in their lives.”
“When you help your child to understand what is in his heart, you are teaching him to evaluate his own motives, which will help to equip him for his walk with Christ as he grows into an adult.” Kristin’s Pick: The Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle
In this sobering, yet inspiring classic, Bishop Ryle calls us to consider from Scripture our holy calling as parents to “train up a child in the way he should go.” He provides us with 17 helpful “hints” on parenting that simply “ought not be be lightly set aside.” Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite:
“Train with this thought continually before your eyes: The soul of your child is the first thing to be considered. In every step that you take about them, in every plan and scheme and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, ‘How will this affect their souls?’”
“Beware of letting small faults pass unnoticed under the idea ‘it is a little one.’ There are no little things in training children; all are important. Little weeds need plucking up as much as any. Leave them alone and they will soon be great.”
J.C. Ryle encourages us to: “Train well for this life, and train well for the life to come; train well for earth and train well for heaven; train them for God, for Christ, and for eternity.”
Scripture does not leave us to guess about the “best deals” for parents. In every season of our children’s lives—beginning when they are very young—we are to make training them up in the discipline of the Lord our primary aim (Eph. 6:1-4).
This is a tremendous task, and far too important a topic to sufficiently cover in this series. Instead, we would encourage—no—strongly encourage you to do some study on your own. We want to recommend our four favorite books on child-training, along with a few choice excerpts.
Part memoir, part parenting advice, this book not only gives simple, biblical advice for child-rearing, but a beautiful picture of a godly, loving home. Elisabeth Elliot’s parents raised six children to serve God, and she weaves their wise counsel throughout the book. Here are a few thoughts to consider:
“Training must come before teaching. [Teaching] is impossible unless the children cooperate. And they don’t cooperate unless they are disciplined from their earliest days. This discipline lays the groundwork for teaching.” Katherine Howard (Elisabeth Elliot’s mother)
“The trouble with so many parents is that they do not begin early enough to insist on obedience, telling the truth, and respect for parents; and unfortunately many do not behave in the home in ways that inspire respect. Love, kindness, cheerfulness, and good times should abound in every Christian home, but these are stifled where there is disobedience, disrespect, and where the children’s will dominates. Parents are God’s representatives in the home and, like Him, they should keep the right balance between Law and grace.” Philip Howard (Elisabeth Elliot’s father)
“Called to be a mother, entrusted with the holy task of cooperating with God in shaping the destinies of six people, she knew it was too heavy a burden to carry alone. She did not try. She went to Him whose name is Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. She asked His help.” Elisabeth Elliot (describing her her mother’s faith)
Elisabeth Elliot recommends this book for its “remarkably clear, biblical, and practical teaching.” I keep it in the basket beside my quiet-time chair and refer back to it often. Shepherding a Child’s Heart lays a biblical foundation for parenting and builds on that with biblical methods and training objectives and procedures for each stage of your child’s life. It is gospel-centered and infused with gospel-hope. Here are a few quotes:
“You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling…There is nothing more important. You have only a brief season of life to invest yourself in this task. You have only one opportunity to do it. You cannot go back and do it over.
You live in a culture in which there are opportunities for you to do things unheard of in history. You are presented daily with scores of opportunities. There is more than you could ever do. [But] to do this job of parenting well, it must be a primary task. It is your primary calling.”
“The child trained in biblical obedience is better able to understand the gospel. The power and grace of the gospel is most deeply understood, not by those who never face their biblical duties, but by those who do.”
For moms of young children, the demands of motherhood can often—sadly—take first priority over her marriage.
But one of the most loving things we can do for our children is to prize our husbands. It provides a wonderful security in their lives, and it presents a biblical model for them and their future marriages. We want our daughters to prize their future husbands; and for our sons, we want them to find wives who will prize them.
Last week, we left Michelle so busy raising her daughters that she had ceased to prize her husband. Michelle was unaware that she was putting her children before her husband until several faithful friends from church brought it to her attention. “It was like waking up,” she said, “I was blind to it.”
Michelle immediately began to make changes. She started by praying each day that God would give her greater love for Peter. But she didn’t stop there. She began to express affection in creative ways—through cards and letters. She took time to think about things that would bless Peter. She sought his opinion first instead of going to her friends. In short, she made her relationship with her husband her highest priority.
Her actions had a tangible effect. As a couple they began to pursue interests and activities that didn’t involve the children. “Things went so well,” Peter said, “that we began to look for more opportunities to steal away together and have fun and enjoy each other.” For their anniversary they spent a weekend alone. “The most enjoyable part was simply enjoying one another and our new-found romance. We had a blast!”
Let’s heed Scripture’s counsel and follow Michelle’s example. We should do whatever it takes to let our husbands know that we prize them above all others.
I’ve got a homegrown Friday Funnies for you today. At least, it is funny to me now—but not so much in the moment.
It began last week when Mike got into a small car accident. (No, that’s not the funny part. It doesn’t come until much later.) He was fine, but the car had to be serviced for a few days. The insurance company got us a rental car and we’ve been driving it all week.
Well, yesterday I took the girls out in the lovely rental—with all its unfamiliar buttons and gadgets—to Panera to get some bread for dinner. It was a chilly day—not excessively cold, but a good night to enjoy warm bread for dinner
Upon arriving at the restaurant, I popped the trunk to get my stroller and hopped out of the car, closing the door behind me. I pulled the stroller around to get MJ out of her carrier, and discovered that her door was locked. No problem. I hurried around to the driver’s side to unlock her door—only now it was locked too! I tried every door. All locked.
Somehow—and I’m still not sure how—I had managed to lock both my daughters in the car. I stood, staring helplessly at my cell phone and keys, both inside my purse on the passenger seat. Frantically, I started planning my next move.
This was a rental car and we had no spare key. I couldn’t leave the girls to go make a call inside the restaurant. So I looked around for the first person that happened to pass by. Just as I was ready to flag down a guy in the parking lot, I looked up—and who “just happened” to walk out of the Panera door? My mother-in-law!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I called out to her and she rushed over with her cell phone. I immediately called the police who transferred me to the fire department. Within five minutes I heard the sirens and a huge fire truck with four firemen pulled up—lights and all. They had my babies out within a few minutes.
After our little drama, we girls trooped into Panera and I tried to pretend that no one was staring at me. We got some treats to aid us in our recovery from the trauma of the experience.
Today I’m still driving the rental car, but you can be sure I’m putting that key in my pocket every time I get out of the car!
The first great deal for moms with young kids is to preach the gospel to yourself. Prizing your husband is the second way to make the best use of your time. Here’s one woman’s story of how she came to this realization:
Michelle poured her life and energy into her two small children. However, the demands and joys of motherhood crowded out her love for her husband. Friendships and service in the church even took precedence over her relationship with Peter.
They didn’t have any major problems, but their marriage certainly wasn’t exciting anymore. Intimate communication and even daily expressions of affection had dwindled. After nine years of marriage, their relationship more closely resembled an amiable business partnership. Michelle was so busy raising her daughters, she didn’t even notice.
Michelle had ceased to prize her husband. There was a time when Peter was the most important person in her life, but over time her children and friends had become more significant. However, according to Scripture, these are faulty priorities.
The Bible makes it very clear that after our relationship with God, our relationship with our husband is to be our highest priority (Gen 2:18, 1 Cor. 11:8-9, Tit. 2:3-5). We were created to be our husband’s helper, not our children’s mother.
Certainly we are to love, care for, and nurture our children, but this love is to flow out of a lifestyle that is first and foremost committed to helping our husbands. Our husbands should always remain first in our hearts and in our care.
We’ll conclude Michelle’s story on Monday, but you can expect the Friday Funnies before the end of the day.
My oldest son Andrew turned nine last month. It seems like only yesterday when I took that pregnancy test which told me, with those 2 pink lines, that I was going to be a mother for the very first time.
Even though it was almost ten years ago now, I still clearly remember the first three months of my pregnancy with him. I remember what food I craved (cheese) and what food I detested (chicken). I remember talking about food, dreaming about food, planning my food. I even had a list of specific restaurants I needed to visit. Ruby Tuesdays and (coincidentally) Andrew’s, a diner near my work, topped the list. My body was telling me something: I needed food in order to care for and nourish the little one growing inside me.
The gospel is to our soul what food is to our body. Our souls need the gospel and we don’t just need it once a month or once a week, or even once a day. We need it constantly—breakfast, lunch and dinner and in between.
We need to be constantly reminding ourselves of these amazing truths: that God sent His only Son to earth, to live a perfect life and die in our place, paying the price of all of our sins so that we might receive salvation. We our justified, not because of anything we have done or will ever do, but through our Savior’s blood, shed at Calvary.
That’s wonderful truth, you may be thinking, but I thought you were going to give me time-saving tips. Instead you are telling me that even though I can’t remember where I put the keys or what day of the week it is, I’ve got to remember the gospel too!
Trust me, I understand. I’ve been there. But preaching the gospel to yourself is not another item on your to-do list, any more than eating is. The gospel is the fuel, the source of power, strength, peace and hope that will get us moms with young kids through today, tomorrow, and this crazy overwhelming season of our lives.
Without a steady diet of gospel truth our souls will shrivel and our strength will wane; but a steady diet of gospel truth will give us power to persevere, even in the most tiring of times.
But how do we find the time to preach the gospel to ourselves? Tomorrow we’ll suggest a few ideas.
2009 at 3:36 pm | by Nicole Whitacre
The woman who wrote to the Washington Post advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, wanted to know why her friend, a new mom, no longer had time for her. Ms. Hax’s response—though not too gracious—was dead-on-accurate in its portrayal of the life of a mom with young kids:
“When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
It’s constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.
It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything—language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.
Or, as Ms. Hax puts it, “It’s needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.”
So how does the mom with young kids make the best use of her time when she doesn’t feel like she has any time?
We’ll look at the best deals for moms (and yes, there are some!) this week.