A comment was made to me recently that really struck me for some reason, and made my heart go out to the speaker of this comment. 

We had made a quick stop at a warehouse store, and all 4 of the children were piled into the over-sized cart, along with the few items I needed.  A gentleman saw them sitting there quietly and engaged JR and M in conversation.  After a few moments, he looked at me and said, “I don’t know how you can possibly manage 4 children!  I had just 2 and was ready to shoot myself!”  Unfortunately, I have heard similiar comments far too often, which is not surprising in a secular world, I suppose.  I simply looked at my children, smiled, and replied, “We are truly blessed, but honestly, after 2, it got easier since the older ones started helping out.”  He looked at me, stunned, and said something to the effect of, “Are you kidding?  Are you from another century, or was I just that bad of a parent?!”  I had to just smile and laugh, but it was the latter question that really struck me.  As I thought about that remark, I realized that yes, I am literally trying to raise 19th century children in a 20th century world. 

A, 17 mo, feeding N, 8 mo

A, 17 mo, feeding N, 8 mo

I realized that the part that seemed to have gotten the man’s attention was when I commented that “my older ones helped out.”  The more I thought about it, the more I realized how I expect a great deal of responsibility from my children.  As I look around at similiarly-aged children, it is easy to see that perhaps this concept is unusual.  Yet, I have to ask myself, is it so wrong?

When children misbehave, I have heard parents make excuses like, “children need to be children,” “they are just tired,” “they are too young to understand,” and, my personal favorite, “he is far too gifted to be expected to sit quietly.  He is just too bored!”  Is there truth to these statements?

Proverbs 20:11 states, “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.”  This single verse tells me that there is no excuse for ill-behaved children.  Like it or not, your child will likely be known–perhaps even labeled.  Ill-behaved children of any age are known as “spoiled,” “brats,” or “wild.”  It breaks my heart to hear even parents speak poorly of their children.  The start of summer vacation is a classic example.  All too often I hear parents speak about how they dread school getting out.  “Oh, how am I going to handle the kids being home all day?!”  “I’m gonna go crazy with these kids in the house!”  or “I can’t wait for school to start back so I can have a quiet house and my free time back!”  Such negative speak only serves to give others the impression that your children are poorly-behaved and horrid to be around.  I certainly don’t want people to think that of my children, and I dare say I don’t think any parent does.  More importantly, though, such talk will eventually affect our attitudes towards our children, and they will sense that.  You’ve probably heard the phrase “A child is what he is expected to be.”  Once we reach the point that we have convinced ourselves, through our speak, that our children will misbehave, I can guarantee they will!  We are expecting it of them!

Well-behaved children, on the other hand, are a pleasure to be around.  Psalm 8:2 says, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”  This single verse sets a picture of the peace and tranquility, of the perfect innocence easily seen in a young child.  A well-behaved child is a blessing to his family, a pleasure to have the company of, and he knows how to delight in life.  Around our house, this is known as having a “happy heart.”  This type of child is just as much a child, born with the same sinful nature as the ill-behaved type above, so what is different?  What makes well-behaved children, well, behave?   The Bible offers very explicit instruction and guidance in this area, which I want to look at more in depth over the next few posts.