The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. Proverbs 10:1
What makes a child wise? Is it one action or a series of actions? Are there really steps to help children learn to be wise? Or is it just a hit or miss issue with each of your children? Every parent wishes this issue could be taught, learned, understood, and have a plan that is understandable and easy to follow. After years of parenting I have come to the conclusion that it is hopeless….just kidding. There are lots of scriptural helps that God has given us. When Pam and I write our first parenting book, we will give the “Rogers Exhaustive Concordance on Parenting” with personal illustrations that will embarrass both our children and us. We may even include the pictures. But for now let’s look at a few revelational pointers.
First, wisdom is not directly related to educational intellect. Many of us had grandparents with 3rd grade educations that we would consider to have been incredibly wise. To be sure some of their wisdom came with age…”the glory of old men is their wisdom and young men, their strength.” Possessing a lot of knowledge about certain subjects, does not necessarily make them wise. This does not mean that a child doesn’t have to learn, but just because you send them to school in NO WAY means that your child is growing in wisdom.
For a person to be considered wise, we are looking for them to “have choices, and then make right decisions.” It is that simple. A choice is presented to the child or adult, they look at the options and then they act in a decisive way that is the best option. So a wise child would make right decisions. How do we teach them to make those right, wise decisions?
Take a deep breath parents, I am going to let you off the hook just a little bit. This is a profound truth that will allow a little grace into your parenting. Adam and Eve had God as their parent and they made a foolish decision to disobey Him. So when you think that you have failed, it just may be that your child will learn grace from the wrong decision.
Where is the first place for children learn about making wise decisions? They LEARN BY EXAMPLE. That’s right, your children have been watching you from the time they were born. They have heard you trying to figure out life, they have seen arguments, anger, fear, joy, love, every weakness and every strength that you both have as their parents. All that information has been “imprinted” on their minds and personalities. They have been watching you and then acting – just like you. The positive aspect of this model is that you don’t have to teach with lots of words…they model what they see and hear. So don’t blame their teachers or their friends just yet when your child makes bad decisions…they learned most of it from you.
Second, wisdom is gained in an incredibly easy to understand process. They must learn that EVERY DECISION HAS CONSEQUENCES. In the beginning of Proverbs, Solomon writes that the “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This fear includes the honor and respect that we give to someone in high authority. But is also means that there is a judge in which we will have to give an account for all of our actions….a consequence. You see, when a child misbehaves, they have not only violated your principles, but they have also disobeyed God’s principles and He never lets one event off the hook. Jesus paid for all of our consequences with his death. We do our children a great disservice when don’t hold them accountable for their actions. Consequences are the “real life” lessons on wisdom.
When David and Jonathan were 6 years old, they were playing with toys at the Christian Book store. When we got home, we found a couple of these 15 cent toys in their pockets. We explained to them how wrong this was. Then we took the boys back to the store, made them return the items and ask for forgiveness from the store manager. I wanted the manager to lay into them, but he just smiled and told them not to do it again. I was kinda hoping his anger would have stirred up the “fear of God in them.” But suffice it to say, that they remembered the event enough not to steal again.
Some simple guidelines for action vs consequences
- Make sure that the consequence quickly follows the behavior. The younger the child the closer that the consequence has to be to the action. Children need to associate the reprimand with the disobedience.
- Make sure the reprimand is associated with the misbehavior. For bad language, soap washing is still a good choice. Whereas, just sending them to their room, may not equate. Especially if you allow them to mutter and complain all the way to their room.
- Help them see that for every don’t there is a do. When God says don’t curse, it is because He desires for us to use our tongues to bless. We don’t use our hands to hurt others, rather we find ways to bring help in serving others. Connect the wise decisions to truth, light, and freedom that comes when we choose God’s ways.
God’s Word is the baseline for wise actions. This article is not just for parenting. We are all evaluated our entire lives on the actions that we make, whether wise or unwise. May God give you wisdom, His wisdom, to lead and guide you all the days of your life.
Blessings Love y’all