"Sow a thought, reap an act;
Sow an act, reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny."
-- Charles Reade/Ralph Waldo Emerson
The above quote made me think of how raising children is not easy. We teach our children how to behave within the family at first, and then within the wider world they will eventually enter. We do this not only by instructing them with words, but also by our own behavior. The latter is always a better teacher, especially if you're in someone's life daily for their first 18 years. The habits we establish with our children will stay with them in some form or another if they've seen some value in them. This is why it's so important to have these values established in your own life so you can impart them to your children through your own actions (behavior). This is also why I could not understand why spanking was supposed to be a good thing. Wouldn't I just be teaching them to inflict physical/emotional pain on people who did not cooperate with them or who were not showing them respect?
When I was raising my three sons I was constantly reading books on how to discipline children. The ones that made sense to me taught that teaching children consequences for their behavior was the best way to teach them, and whenever you could provide "natural" consequences, that was better because when you weren't around they'd be able to foresee the consequences of their behavior on their own. This is why parenting is a full-time occupation I soon discovered. If you're too busy, too harried, or too tired, it's much too easy to take the attitude of "do this because I said so" and not use the moment as a teaching opportunity.
I greatly admire the women who make the necessary adjustments in their own lives to be able to homeschool their children. Once my children went off to school there was a constant conflict between the values they were learning there and the ones I felt were important. But I also know that in order to homeschool, one must have support in order to succeed. When that is not there, the rest of us must find ways to sow good habits in our children despite outside influences, so that their characters will develop in such a way that they will be able to live out the destiny God has planned for them. . . . "I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ( Jeremiah 29:11)
Our role as parents is to facilitate that. Children are a gift from God. They not only are a responsibility, but also an opportunity because they provide us with many rewards as well, such as growing closer to the Lord because it is not a job to be done without His help!
Father, thank you for my three children. Even though they are grown now and no longer my responsibility, they still provide opportunities to reap the blessings You intended them to be.
Link to Scripture: Mark 4:1-20
Take action: It is helpful to make a list of the values you wish to instill in your children so that you are more conscious of what you say and do around your children that may be counter to your intentions. Here is one article on Instilling Values in Children.