I've read it several times...
"Just train them in such and such, and they will do it."
Well, the truth under this roof is that hardly anything just happens. And what I wanna know is, what do all those experts even mean when they talk about training up their kids?
When your son continues to chomp his food, and your daughter can't stop picking her nose and eating it... when littlest girl still throws herself on the floor when she doesn't get what she wants and three of them spend their days squabbling about things that seemingly shouldn't matter... What then? How to train souls? What does it really look like?
And I always feel a little funny writing about things that I am for certain still in the thick of myself. I still wanted to humbly post a few things that have moved me forward in this thing called training throughout my past six years as a Mama.
Each family truly is unique and the specifics are gonna look different for each of us because each child has his/her own individual make up. But there are three things that I think could encourage any Mama heart longing to know how to actually train up their children in righteousness.
This past weekend Hal and I were outside watering the strawberries. It was hot outside and we have to water each plant by hand. The job can get long and tiring. The other kids had finished their chores and Hal was tired and saw her bothers and sister playing in the nice cool shade of their "treehouse". She just wanted to be done with watering the plants. I totally understand because I was feeling the same way. But as she was holding that hose and begging me to let her quit and go play, I felt the Lord speaking gently to me...
"This is training.
Show her how to work hard. Show her how to finish strong. Show her how to do all of life to the best of her ability for the glory of God.
Walk with her.
And that's the thing. Training takes time, patience. Training in a sense is simply living and walking through life with the little people under our roof. Training is not popping them into submission. (For us, there are a very small handful of things that warrant a pop on the bum, but that conversation is for another time. :) Training is not raising our voices until the dominating thunder coming from my mouth frightens them into obedience(Which I am often guilty of). Training is not taking over and just getting the job done ourselves simply because it would be a whole lot easier than letting them try and fail several times before they actually get it.
With Hal, she doesn't really know how to water the flowers yet. She gets flustered pulling the hose out as it gets all tangled and then stuck. Time to her still feels like forever so even though she needs to water each plant for an entire minute, she's convinced that ten seconds must surely really be a full minute.
We've been watering the plants together for several days now. Each day I've shown her ways that she can unravel the hose so that it won't get tangled. Each day I've stood with her as she's held the hose over each plant and we've counted together to 60.
And yesterday when she wanted to quit and go play with the other kids, I kindly told her that when we start a job, it's best to finish it well. She came back at me with a tired, hot and whiney, "But Mama?" To which I got down on her level and rested my hand on her shoulder, and said
"Love... work is privilege. We have the blessing of getting to grow stuff together in our yard. And because I love you, I want to help you to grow up into the best worker that you can be for the glory of God. Now let's keep going until all the plants have all their water. I'll walk with you as you finish up your job."
And slowly we made our way down the planter. She gazed at the other kids, possibly hoping that I might change my mind.
But together we stuck with it and we finished the job, and we finished it well. When she was done watering, I showed her how to put the hose away. Then I undid what I had just demonstrated to her and had her try to do it herself. It took quite a bit of time. But I'm starting to wonder if there really is any better way to spend my time than to purpose to train my treasures up in righteousness?
In the moment she wasn't ecstatic about finishing up the job. But as she gets better and better at completing her chores, she's gaining a healthy pride in her work. And in the process she's learning that the main reason we work hard, the main reason we do anything, is because we love God and wanna honor Him in everything that we do.
There's no harsh voice necessary.
Just a little company, gentle leading, and consistency.
Patience and a bit of unhurried time are helpful too. :)