I'd like to welcome any visitors who are reading my blog for the first time, or who visited from Encouragement for Today devotions. My devotion today was titled, "Raising Children with Moral Courage." You can read it by clicking here.
This hasn't been an easy part of parenting for me. You see, I tend towards being an over-protective and worried mom. My instinct is to pull my children in closer at the first scent of danger. And believe me when I say that raising three boys close in age involved lots of danger.
All three have the spirits of warriors and adventurers. There was no puddle deep enough or fence high enough that one of my three wouldn't try to battle their way through, over, under and beyond. Every stick became a sword, and towel a cape. Quite unlike their mama, who prefers a cozy couch and book to the wild life.
Back when they were small, I had to make a choice. Honestly, my husband sort of prodded me to do it. He recognized their amazing spirit, because he's got it too. So instead of trying to make them more like me (which would have been futile and sad) I realized I had help them become who God had already designed them to be. Which was bold boys who would become bold men.
I had to (and still do) choose to allow them to do things that seemed scary. But I didn't always do it right. One of my biggest regrets was when my oldest son wanted to take a mission trip. In junior high he spent a weekend at an orphanage in Mexico. He loved it and wanted to plan for a longer, more involved, trip to Honduras the following year.
Everything in me cringed in fear. And I let him know it. I listed every reason why it would be dangerous for him to go that far. He was too young, it was too expensive, and so on. Sadly, my son dropped the issue and never brought it up again.
The hard part about this task of raising brave children is there are real dangers in our world. Every day, a parent has to balance wisdom and risk. However, to be brave, there has to be a risk. If there is no challenge, it's not bravery.
The kingdom of God is advanced by men and women with moral courage. And faith is only strengthened by stepping out (often in fear) and discovering for yourself that God is faithful. But it must start at an early age. So what can parents do? Here are a few things to consider.
1) Address your own fear level. Is there any chance you might be over-protective and hinder your child from stepping out in faith?
2) Read about biblical virtues of faithful men and women. You'll find that many of the heroes of our faith did very brave and dangerous acts for God.
3) Teach your children the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Christians should be assertive for the right reasons.
4) Let your children know you will support them for doing the right thing. We always told our children to stick up for the weak, and we would stand beside them to face the consequences.
5) Allow your child to do something for God you consider risky. Not unsafe or foolish. But risky.
6) Do something risky for God yourself, and allow your child to watch or participate.
Here are some quotes that inspire me:
1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” (NLT)
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts. Aristotle
The world needs more brave women and men. We need more people who feel moral outrage over injustice, poverty, inequality, cruelty, hatred, bullying, lying, and all kinds of sinful behavior. And will be brave enough to do something about it. We can do something about it now with our children.
That's my prayer for my children and yours.
In His Love,