Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rerun: Training Those Characters

Anyone who knows me in real life knows I have a house full of characters. Seriously…my kids are SO funny! And witty. They keep us laughing all day long. Usually. When they are not driving me crazy. But that’s beyond the point!

We recently have done a new thing to try to train these characters in godliness and grace. Our point in parenting is not to train perfect children, but to train children who are ready to hear from the Lord and wholeheartedly follow Him when they are out of our house. Sometimes in parenting it is so easy to concentrate on perfection of behavior that we create hardness of heart.

Recently we had a really rough time of it in our household. On different occasions, I had four of my six school-aged children lie to me (boldfaced, straight-to-my-face lying!) in a 12-hour period. Anyone know that’s a cause for some serious dissension in the Peterson household? I called school to a standstill. For what good does it do to have the worldly success of multiplying fractions if you cannot have a life of integrity?

We all got out our Bibles and started studying the topic of “lies,” “lying,” etc. We made a list of them and started writing them out into a subject of our Bible notebook. I figure that the Word of God is a two-edged sword and that His word will not come back void. Over the course of a couple days we wrote out every verse we could find on the topic of lying. That is a lot!!! After that I had each child pick their favorite three verses. We marked them and I picked five of those for the children to memorize. I had them write each verse on one side of an index card (including the location of the verse). On the other side I had them write just the first letter of the words. So on one side it would say, “Psalm34:13 — Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” And on the other side it would say, “Kytfeaylfsl.” This helps them memorize and review the verses.

We attached all the verses together with a metal ring. In order to watch a movie with us that weekend they had to be able to say all five verses with no more than two helps. Now we have a whole arsenal of verses to help us out.

For some of my children, just memorizing these five are enough to keep them from lying. For others, **ahem**, it has not been enough. So, when God illuminates the fact that a little sinner is lying, I ask that child to go pick another verse to add to their cards, and memorize it before the next meal. (Yes, they are picking the shortest ones first…but they’ll run out of those eventually if they continue, and it’ll work out OK.)

We have moved on to other topics: truthfulness, diligence, obedience, etc. It is not making things perfect around here; after all, there are 11 sinners in a small, confined area. But I am trusting that in the long run, we are going to reap the fruit of having these verses hidden in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him. Each topic gets a section of our Bible Notebooks (eventually we will effectively have a topical concordance in our notebooks), and each section of the ring gets a colored index card on top of the memorized verses so we know where one topic ends and another begins.

Hope that helps some of you with ideas for training your own little characters. Remember that if we have outward perfection, but God doesn’t have a soft, pliable heart to work with, all our parenting is wasted. Some things are more important than academic subjects.

Keep on Keepin’ on, Mamas! Our role is big, but our God is bigger!

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Do you have the Doorposts book, "For Instruction in Righteousness"? It is full of verses that are wonderful for this purpose. It is divided into different types of sinful behavior, making it easy to quickly find a verse to memorize and/or write on the school white board for all to see. :) Lying can be a very hard thing to break. Hang in there! It sounds like you're doing a great job. Lisa~