Parenting skills learned much too late.
We instinctively raise our children in the same way that we have been raised.
When my first-born was about thirteen months old I thought it was time to teach him to pick up after himself. After he was done playing with his alphabet blocks he started to take something else out of his toy box. I wanted him to put the blocks back before he played with his other toy. I commanded him, “Put your blocks back”. He didn’t. He probably did not even understand what I was saying to him. So I hit him.
I hit him because that’s the way I was raised. Hit the kid if he displeases his parent, and then maybe tell him afterwards what he did wrong. Hit him and teach him to fear. To avoid pain he may eventually learn what pleases his parents.
When I hit him he looked startled, shocked, hurt. Poor baby he even looked confused. He started to cry and instinctively reached out to me, his mother, to comfort him. That was more than I could take. I realized that was not a good way of child training. I picked him up to comfort him and vowed never to do that again. There had to be a better way.
But I had not been taught a better way. I had no one to model myself after. I seldom used corporal punishment after that but because I knew no better way I hit with wicked words.
My mother had called me many unsavory things when she was angry or tired or just sick of life. I imitated.
I cringe when I recall that at one time when he was about eight or nine years old and he had failed to clean his room to suit me, I sent him back up to his room and called after him. “You Jerk”. That was totally uncalled for given the situation.
I read a comment somewhere attributed to a military general. He said that in duress, a person deteriorates to the level of his training. That is also true in child rearing.
That was true for me. In my duress I deteriorated to the level of my training, to what I had learned as a child.
Last week at the mall I witnessed a bad scene between a father and his young son. They had just come out of a photography studio, and the boy was all frowns. The father ordered him to a small kiddy table such as you often see in doctors offices and other public places. “Sit here and behave yourself. Play with these beads.” There was a bead tower on the table where a child could slide colored beads along various rollercoaster pathways. The child balked at the idea. The father, whom I really took to be his teen-age brother, then twisted the child’s arm till he cried, “I am your father and you will do as I say!”
Obviously that young man also had deteriorated to the level of his training. But who suffers? It is the innocent children. Anger, resentment, hatred, low self-esteem and even criminal tendencies are fostered and even nurtured by parents who simply don’t know any better. Then we tell them, “Behave yourself”.
Many churches require that a couple wanting to be married in that church have to go through a marriage seminar. That is good because if people have not had a good model to follow they can learn what a model marriage should look like and copy.
I think churches need to seriously consider offering classes for prospective parents on Christian parenting. It would be a way of “equipping the saints”. It would equip people to be good Christian parents. It says in the Bible, “Train up a child in the way he should go…” But how does one do that training? Just taking them to church or Sunday School is not enough if there is no proper training at home. What are the best methods and tools to accomplish that training? Without good tools and methods and even support, people deteriorate to the lowest possible way.
I used to think that God was mean when it says in the Old Testament “I will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.” After having witnessed that incident at the mall I would not be surprised if that child grew up to be a criminal. Who would have made him that way, God or his earthly father?
I don’t know of any curriculum out there to prepare prospective parents for the responsibilities of parenthood. Perhaps a reader out there might be able to write one. But I have found a website that has a lot of good information once the children are there. It is http://www.indiaparenting.com/raisingchild/data/raisingchild124.shtml
There also is the organization called M.O.P.S. Mothers of Pre-schoolers. http://www.gospelcom.net/mops/index.php?srctype=menu&PHPSESSID=4329f2b64d2b714492ab94ca91dc0c3a
It is a Christian oriented international support group for mothers of pre-schoolers. Their website is packed full of interesting things. There is an online discussion forum. They have a magazine called Momsense that you can subscribe to. They have books and articles. Many cities have local chapters where Moms and their little one can meet together. Their international convention will be held in September in Dallas, Texas.
I wish that the resources of that organization had been available to me when my children were young. Then I would have had the tools to raise my kids in a better way than I was raised.