building our children’s inner being
Nurturing our children to grow up to be well adjusted and confident adults with godly values is indeed a difficult uphill task. We will never know at the beginning what the outcome of our teaching, training and guidance would be. As a mother, I have had my fair share of anxieties, heartaches and headaches, disappointments, frustrations, sleepless nights and tears.
Building Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
A child’s self-esteem is acquired and not inherited. Building healthy self-esteem in our children is not just helping them to be confident of themselves but to give them a sense of self-worth; for them to know their capabilities and that the contributions they make, however small, are valued. We also need to cultivate in them self-respect and resiliency. All these come through parental modeling and guidance.
I often used ‘Choice Theory’ as one of the ways to train my children to be proactive, to think before responding and not to react hastily. They were taught from young that there are consequences to their choices; their decisions would lead to outcomes that they might not be ready for. From childhood to young adulthood, my children have been taught to pray and ask God for wisdom before making any life decision. When they made wrong choices that led to unfavorable consequences, these were often great opportunities for them to learn important life’s lessons. I always encouraged them that only the Lord Jesus is perfect and never makes mistakes. So long as we are human, we will make mistakes and it is important to learn from our mistakes, pick ourselves up and move on.
I gave my children my listening ear, no matter how tired or busy I was with my school work. At all stages of their development, from childhood to adolescence, my children have met with various challenges, especially relating to classmates and friends from different cultural, social and religious background.
Daily, they would come home with stories of their encounters, sometimes happy ones and at other times, stories of frustration and disappointment. I simply listened and allowed them to pour out their unhappy feelings without scolding them.
I always told them that they have every right to be upset but they should not judge and be angry for long. Praying with them to forgive those who had caused them distress and hurt helped them a lot.
Imparting Godly Values
I prayed for God’s wisdom for my children that when things go wrong, they might see what they have done wrong, instead of blaming others. I have taught them to reflect on their own actions, trained them to face reality, to be resilient and to do that which pleases God.
Proverbs 22: 6 says, “Train the child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
“Discipleship begins at home” is what I’ve always believed. My children were taught to know who God is and how they should love, obey and serve God. They started serving in the Cathedral since their teens and through their ministries, they have learned many godly values. I thank God for the pastors and staff who are not afraid of using young people and have given my children the chance to serve.
Since they were in school, I taught my children that it is their duty to tithe and they should tithe even their pocket money. My son used to say, “I tithe more than 10%, so don’t nag at me, mother.” One of my daughters would say, “It is a big sum Ma, but I am glad I gave.” Another would tell me not to worry, “I also tithe the bonus I received.”
I emphasized to my children the importance “of offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God – our spiritual act of worship” (Rom 12:1-2). Even though they are now adults, I would talk with them and check on them from time to time, making sure that they walk the talk, disciple their children, pray and intercede for friends, not to conform to worldly patterns and be watchful.
I taught my children to be contented and not to compare what others have with what they do not have. I told my daughters that one need not wear branded clothes to be beautiful as beauty is internal. As long as one is neat and decently attired, no matter what she wears, she will look respectable and beautiful. Once, a young lady church member said to me, “Although your daughters do not wear branded goods, they look pretty.” I thank God for this remark and was encouraged by what she said.
Proverbs 13: 24 said; “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” I believe in setting family rules, boundaries, and timely correction when rules are broken. It was sometimes tough as my son would compare me with his friends’ parents. But I rather that we (parents and child) suffer the pain of discipline when they are young than to be sorry later.
When Abba God disciplines us, it is for our benefit as He intends to produce holiness in us (Heb 12: 10). “No chastising seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb 12: 11)
A mother’s sacrificial love, unrestricted care, open communication, prayers and tears are essentials that will help our children grow up to love and know God as their Father, their Provider, Protector and Peace. I thank Abba God, the rightful owner of our children, for His Righteousness, Grace, Compassion and Faithfulness. n
Author: Mrs. Jessie Tan (Jessie is a retired teacher. She and her family worship and serve at the 8 am Sunday Service. Jessie and James have three children and six grandchildren.)
First published in The Courier, January 2013.