When I was in the eighth grade my mother asked me to sit down. I could tell she wanted to have a serious conversation and I thought I was in trouble. However, she wanted to pass on to me an important truth. What she said has stuck with me to this day.
She said, “Rick, these will be the best years of your life and I want you to take advantage of them. They will go by quickly and you will remember them, so make good use of them and don’t waste them”. It was not only what she said, but how she said it that made me remember that moment.
That was just one of many talks Mom had with me that helped direct and shape my life. I will always be indebted to her for the investments she has made in my life.
A mother has an in incredible influence in her home. The Bible speaks of her power to build her home – and also her ability to destroy it.
“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)
This is what my mother did for myself, my brother and sister – she “built” us. It is what my wife has done for our children. Now, I’m watching as my children are parenting and building their children, my grandchildren. What joy I have in seeing this!
This begs an important question: how does a mother build her children?
The Bible gives many ways to do that, but I will only give two in this post. (The same truths apply to a father in terms of investing and building his children).
You build your children when you highly value them. Many children wonder if they are important to their parents. Some kids feel like they are a nuisance and a hindrance rather than a blessing.
Scripture clearly states the high value God places on children.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5)
Notice several expressions. God says children are “an heritage of the Lord” and “his reward”. The word “heritage” has the idea of an inheritance, a valued possession. Children are precious gifts from God, on loan to parents to train for Him. The word “reward” means “to compensate”. They are not a penalty, but a blessing and an honor from God.
So, our children are not to be viewed as an obstruction to our happiness or our career goals. In fact, the Bible says that “happy is the man” that has many children. That’s not true if they are a burden.
Another text from the Bible on the worth of our kids – “…thy children like olive plants round about thy table.” (Psalm 128:3)
Here, children are compared to olive plants. Why olive plants? Because the oil it produced was a valuable commodity – including cooking, medicinal, and also a medium of exchange in that day. The idea of these metaphors is clear – our children are to be valued by us.
We must believe our children are important and communicate that to them. This must be reinforced by our words, the time we give to them, our attitude toward them, and the way we speak of them to others.
Some of the most important words a child can hear from a parent are “I’m proud of you…I’m glad God brought you into our family…I care about you and love you”.
Many have never heard these words.
Do your children sense they are important to you? Do you take the time to communicate value to them? Do you ever tell them that you are proud of them?
Second, you build your children by teaching them. I’m not speaking here of academics as much as spiritual training from God’s Word and in practical areas.
Parents have a divine commission from God to teach their children. The Bible teaches that the primary teacher in a child’s life is to be his father and mother.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) This commandment is given to parents. A local church and school can assist parents in training their children, but the ultimate responsibility is on the shoulders of the parents.
Parents can delegate some things, and should, but they are to supervise and oversee what is taught. We cannot abdicate this responsibility without consequences in the lives of our children.
Paula and I purposed to homeschool our children early on and we did that with all seven of our kids. We knew we needed to delegate certain academic disciplines that we couldn’t teach as they went into high school. But that didn’t cause us to forfeit our interest in their academic classes or those that taught them.
When one of our children was taking a psychology course at one of our local colleges and brought the textbook home I asked to see it. I sat down with them, looked at a few topics in the index, and turned to the various sections and pointed out the wrong teaching that contradicted with the truth of the Bible.
They said, “Dad, how did you know these things were in here?” That was part of my responsibility to help them be on the lookout for that which is wrong. Even if it is taught by an authority. There will come a time when I’m not around to watch out for what is entering their mind and soul and part of my training them is that they would know how to do so.
A child has a special appreciation for those that teach him and a parent forfeits that when they leave teaching solely to others. I think I gained respect and confidence to some degree from my teenage child when I showed them the problems in the text in the psychology book.
Here are a few passages that show the responsibility of parents to invest God’s truth in the hearts of their children. Please don’t rush through these; note the emphasis on teaching and whom is to do the teaching.
“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons”. (Deuteronomy 4:9)
“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
God chose Abraham to be the progenitor of His chosen people; one reason was that he took fatherhood seriously. Note what God said about him – “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” (Genesis 18:19)
There are other passages in the Bible that state the same truths. This responsibility cannot be delegated without consequence.
What can Mom and Dad teach their children? Here’s a sampling to trigger your thinking. Keep a notebook and write things down as you think of matters children need and make the time to invest in the lives of your children and grandchildren.
Teach them God’s Word.
Teach them to cook.
Teach the how to properly respond to adversity.
Teach them a proper attitude towards authority.
Teach them how to work.
Teach them how to spend, save and budget money.
Teach them how to dress.
Teach them how to choose friends.
Teach them how to have a conversation.
Teach them how to have a hobby or play a sport.
Teach them to how to determine good music.
Teach them how to write a thank you note.
When I was a young boy I remember my Mom leaving home one night a week and attending college classes. She walked out the door with her notebooks and textbooks in hand and returned several hours later. But she only did that for a semester.
Later when I was old enough to understand what was happening I realized that the rigor of the classroom and demand of time was too great for her to work during the day and to be a mother for Melanie, Hoss and myself. She wanted to get her degree, but she never did. All three of her kids have gone to college and finished, but the one who gave us life didn’t. It still hurts my heart to consider this.
My mother laid her life down for us, but in doing so she build her home. I’ve seen Paula do that over and again for our kids in ways they won’t fully understand until they are older and have their own children.
Ours is a day when mom as a homemaker is unappreciated and undervalued. Yet, the most important thing a mother will ever do is to leave a godly legacy in the hearts of her children.
It’s true – “Every wise woman buildeth her house…” (Proverbs 14:1) And she deserves our praise, respect and gratitude for doing so.
Mom, keep teaching your children. The rest of us that have been taught are to honor our parents for their teaching, whether it was by word or example. If your mom is still around, tell her that you appreciate something she taught you – and do it today.