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Character training?

Posted by on November 23, 2011

There are six children living in my home. There are also two parents and two dogs. Throw in two people with aspergers, and you have a recipe for conflict.

“Mom, she’s keeping me awake!”

“She just gave my toothbrush to Elisha!”

“Isaac, get off your sister! You’re crushing her!”

“I don’t like her. She’s a baby!”

Oops! Maybe I should have warned you first. I know you have probably never heard these things before. (grin)

The truth is that we all have a bit of friction in our homes from time to time. Some evenings offer me a bit extra tension and I get a bit frustrated. So I come running to the computer to search for character training materials. If I can just get some worksheets, or flashcards, or maybe an object lesson, then all will be better. But YHVH is always guiding, always shining the light. He guides me to a very unexpected article. It is titled “Character Training is Unbiblical.” Well, of course I click on it, out of curiosity if nothing else.

We want our children to have godly character. We want them to behave. We want to avoid conflict in our homes. But how do we do that? In my heart, I know the answer. But I don’t like it. In Torah, we are told to teach our children all day and all night. We are to fill them with YHVH’s commands. Precept upon precept, line upon line. It is hard work to till the soil of a soul. The work is never truly done. If the soil is left unattended for a period of time, it grows weeds. As parents, we must work to teach our children the principles of Scripture. We must take the little opportunities to show them Biblical responses. When the friction comes and rubs up against our face, we must address it.

But can’t I just have them color a picture and write a poem about kindness? Well, sure you can. But don’t think that coloring a picture will ensure a kind child. Your work is not done. I don’t think there is anything wrong with teaching good qualities systematically, but I think there is a far better way.

If I see one of my children pushing a sibling, I have the opportunity to ask them one question.

“Would you want them to push you?”

There is only one answer to that question. NO. “So don’t push them.”

Done.

If we skip the forty character qualities and the accompanying flash cards, stories, coloring pages, copywork, memorization, and essay questions, we are left with one rule.

~~~Love your neighbor as yourself.~~~

Teach your children that one rule, and apply it to every situation. That is the sole teaching of Torah on human relations. I think my children will have no trouble remembering that.

Why would we care what Torah says? Because Yahshua is Torah wrapped up in a human body. He kept Torah perfectly. He showed us how to love our neighbor as ourselves. He died as a sacrifice because He knew we couldn’t do it. When we trust Him and his atoning sacrifice, he gives us the power to obey. We are thrilled to obey because of our grateful heart.

His way may seem harder. I have to keep at it 24/7. I have to be watching for opportunities to challenge my children to obey Torah. But His way is guaranteed. He promises to bless those who obey Him. When we teach our children to love our neighbor as themselves, they will be blessed.

Tonight, I told Naomi, “You can keep Sabbath, eat kosher, and keep the feasts, but if you don’t learn to love your sister, it all means nothing.”

YHVH, please help me to be diligent in teaching my children. Help me to see the teachable moments when their hearts are more open to instruction. Help me to love my neighbor as myself. Help me to follow your way, the best way, instead of the easy road. Thank you for your faithfulness, your example and your love.

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