Christian Counseling and Parenting – Part 1 of 4

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A Biblical Verse to Help You with Christian Counseling and Parenting

Solomon spoke of this in Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Nurturing the development of a child means following the example of Mary and Joseph. While they were entrusted with the perfect and all-knowing Son of God, nevertheless the humanity of Jesus from birth to adulthood had to be nurtured in the same manner as any other child. We read that Jesus’ parents had an intentional style of parenting. In Luke 2: 52 we find this, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

What Does It Mean that “Jesus Grew in Wisdom?”

Our first category to consider is wisdom. What is wisdom? Here are some brief thoughts:

  • Generally wisdom is the knowledge to know the right thing and do the right thing
  • A child needs help in accessing, being taught, and incorporating knowledge into their lives.
  • Often a child does not know what they do not know. Parents must be intentional to expose children to circumstances that help them experience and learn about the range and depths of knowledge they need to become independent and responsibly adults.

Sources of Wisdom

There are five sources of wisdom:

  1. In the Home: First, the teaching of wisdom begins in the home. Parents must teach a child many things, including the family’s primary language and customs. This means verbal conversations and explanation of their meaning and importance. Also, wisdom comes through reading with a child and even allowing appropriate TV shows, DVD, and Internet access to learn more about the world.
  1. Attending Church and Sunday School: Beginning at a young age, a child gains wisdom about God, faith, values and right-and-wrong through Church.
  1. School: Wisdom is found in school. Beyond a requirement, parents must find a public or private school that teaches a child the “R’s” and helps prepare them for progressive educational expectations from grade to grade, through high school and maybe college or a trade school. 
  1. Extracurricular Activities: There are many other sources of learning for a child, including scouts, music, sports, hobby groups and other clubs. These maybe short-term, but access to these will expose and familiarize a child with information and skills that they may have short-term and long-term benefit. 
  1. Specific interest: Finally, in line with “training up a child in the way he or she should go,” be especially mindful and encouraging of areas of interest and talents. These may be noted by their interest in a certain extracurricular activity or a subject from school, and may be nurtured through added opportunities for teaching and training in more personal ways by an even more knowledgeable mentoring or coach.

Encouraging and “Reinforcing” Wisdom

Questions often arise around how can parents facilitate a child’s involvement in the above areas.

First, as parents you have the ability to design the requirements and structure for all things in your home and for school. Therefore, do this:

  • Create a pattern of family time to read and watch TV with your child.
  • Make Sundays and other church activities a loving, positive, non-negotiable expectation.
  • Monitor school work and encourage exposure to a variety of extracurricular activities (like sports scouts, and music) for at least a brief season and see how your child response.

Second, if your child falls behind or is disruptive in any outside of the home activities, I generally allow those entities to manage the oversight, rewards and consequences for a child’s participation there. Grades, extra work, and even study hall can provide the motivation to do better. If feedback is needed to be received or provided, then as the parent, connect with the leader, teacher, or coach to work things out within that setting.

Third, if you need to step in at home, then frame things like this:

“Honey, this is an important class or activity, and we will help you at home by giving you more time and focus on this subject to study or practice. Therefore, you will not be able to do these other things (like TV, time with friends, etc.) until I have seen you are caught up and doing better on your own.”

Forth, monitor your child’s true ability and interest in a subject or activity. If he or she is not progressing well with a sport or a musical instrument, or if there is truly disinterest in an activity, you may talk to the teacher or coach. See if there are ways to work within those settings to help. and negotiate a plan to continue on a while longer. Do not – especially with extra activities – force or exasperate your child for too long so that it becomes a negative.

Fifth and finally, it may be okay to use one or more of the wisdom categories as a way to reward and motivate a child. I call these “leverage” items. Here are some examples:

If a child is falling behind in school, then (after letting the teacher provide help and consequences) a parent can offer more study time at home (like number three above). But let them know the trade off to help is that the child will have less time with TV or Internet fun time. If instead they are current with school, music, or scouts then the reward is having full time doing all their activities – required or for personal enjoyment. This is leveraging two things together to get equal results.

Or, if the child wants to spend more time in one area but not enough time in another area of wisdom development, then leverage the less fun category with the more fun area. For example if music, scouts or a hobby is self-rewarding for the child, but school, sports or piano is being neglected, then link the positive and the omitted areas together. In this case tell them if they practice or study 20 or 30 minutes a day, then they will be able to have time on the Internet, watching TV, or reading.

The goal is nurturing wisdom so that our children can understand the world, navigate life, develop interests in a variety of areas and have positive self-esteem. I hope this format is helpful.

Stay tuned to the next three areas of raising children the way Mary and Joseph intentionally raised Jesus.

Christian counselor Dr. Douglas Frey believes in Biblical principles and bringing forth God’s grace in meetings and sessions. Call or email Douglas Frey Ph.D. (952-920-2789). He is a licensed Christian counselor serving individuals and families in Eden Prairie and nearby Chanhassen, Chaska, Shakopee, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Edina and other Western Suburbs.

 

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