What behaviors do you train your children?

Thanks to those of you who took part in my email survey. It turned out better than I expected actually. For the uninformed, I sent out an email requesting input to the five top character traits, behaviors, etc. that those who have raised children tried to teach their kids as they raised them. I wish I could have included others in the email, but since I don’t email very often, I don’t have a very good address list.

Here is the list in alphabetical order. Repetitions have been left in.

Biblical convictions
Concern for the unsaved
Faith First
Family Importance
fear of God
Good Manners
Having faith
Heart for God
Keep strong
Keep the Faith
Laugh - at everything you can
Love for God's Word
Love for reading
Love of reading, learning, and music
Other's before yourself
Power and authenticity of the Word of God
putting church first
quiet time and spend time in the Word
Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft
Relationship with Jesus Christ
Respect for authority
Servant heart
Tell the truth
Work ethic
work ethic
Work hard - play harder (sounds like a bumper sticker)

What I find fascinating is to look at these in summation. Unequivocally, you parents have desired to teach things contrary to their nature – things they will not learn on their own except perhaps by experience, which of course unfortunately comes too late. And if that premise is correct, than these behaviors are trained in, not coaxed out! How profoundly this speaks of the nature of humankind. The basic premise of an anthropocentric view is that man is good, but just needs to improve in areas by coaxing out the right behaviors. If this were true, why is it so hard to teach our children honesty, love, and unselfishness? Again I say that it is difficult because we are working against their nature.

There seems to be two levels of behavior people are after. The first is model citizenry which is moral behavior, regardless of the motivation. I would venture to state that experienced adults, as moral beings (whether born-again or not), realize the truth in the statement that “virtue is its own reward”. Generally, avoiding a life of poor decisions and / or sin, leads to an avoidance of those consequences as well. It is true that those who do not know Christ as Savior can mimic Christ likeness if they unknowingly follow His principles such as the ones you all listed. But morality and model citizenry are just the first step. The second level is Christ-likeness. Things such as good manners, responsibility, work ethic, integrity, determination, are behaviors which are important for this life but also the foundation from which the next level is created – godliness, love, love for God’s word, joy, faith, etc (hmmm…does this sound strangely like the fruit of the spirit?). All parents desire the first level for the their kids, Christian parents desire the second level for their kids.

Aunt Mona had a pretty thought provoking comment, and I quote “This is wordy, but a few more thoughts! I never ever viewed the children in the moment - I enjoyed them, every stage of them, but I never viewed them at that moment. I always asked myself - if this behavior takes root in their lives what will they have to deal with as an adult if this remains.” I like this concept, and I don’t need to comment.

One last comment. My dad listed a few that I didn’t realize he was trying to teach. In fact, I don’t think I could list the top 5 things my dad and mom taught me. What they did best was model the behavior. Yes of course there was instruction, but instead of teaching a handful of concepts, they modeled a plethora of them. Thanks mom and dad.