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HOW TO KEEP Your Kids On Your Team
By Charles Stanley
THOMAS NELSON PUBLISHERSCopyright © 2007 Charles Stanley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneViewing Your Children As Gifts from God
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The suicide note read, "Mom, I'm sorry that I was ever born. It seems to me that I have ruined your happiness. I have chosen this way out so that you can be happy again." The young lady had been left with babysitters from the time she was born until she was old enough to take care of herself. At that time she was provided with a ride to and from school, an adequate allowance, and the freedom to do just about anything she pleased.
This young lady did not come out of a single-parent home where there was no option but leaving her alone. Her parents were simply too busy to be bothered. To spend time with her would have been an intrusion on the social commitments. Obviously, they had not considered her a gift from God. On the contrary, they viewed her as a hindrance to their lives and an interruption of their plans. And the parents conveyed this message to their daughter as she was growing up. They gave her all the material possessions she could ever want, but they never provided the warm, loving atmosphere for her that a child needs.
As Christians, we receive many blessings from the Lord, but of all the blessings, the most precious ones are those called "a heritage from the Lord" (Psalm 127:3). Other than receiving the gift of eternal life, the entrance of a child into the home is the most blessed event a young couple can experience. The children in your home are God's gifts to you, and He asks you to view them as such.
Our Special Gifts
Like many parents, Anna and I eagerly awaited the arrival of our first child. We both wanted children but decided to wait until we were out of seminary and into a church. After three years our desires were fulfilled; Andy was born.
When Andy was brought into the hospital room for the first time on the day he was born, Anna and I prayed over him. I remember as if it was yesterday thanking God for His grace in giving us a child. We thanked Him for the privilege of allowing us to have Andy in our home to teach and to guide in the ways of the Lord. At the close of our prayer we gave him back to God. We acknowledged and understood from the very beginning that although our children were gifts from God, they were not ours to keep. We know God had a plan for both Andy and Becky, our daughter.
We purposed in our hearts from the first day we brought each of our children home to raise them to know that God had a special assignment for them. It did not really matter to us where or what that would be; we only knew that they would be prepared by God with our assistance. Then we watched as God began to do His work.
Against the Tide
In a society such as ours where children are oftentimes viewed as unwanted expenses and allowed to live only if they will not interfere with career goals and other such "important" matters, this principle sounds somewhat archaic. With the average number of abortions holding steady at under 1.5 million per year, it is clear that children are viewed by many parents as burdens rather than blessings. There is an undeniable correlation between the atheistic and humanistic trend in recent years and the shift in thinking concerning children. With personhood now defined in terms of quality of life, babies are not considered human until they demonstrate humanness.
This new definition of personhood and the ability doctors have to assess the physical and mental condition of the unborn have put man in the driver's seat concerning who will and will not be allowed to live. Once again man moved to usurp the authority of God. In doing so, another blow is levied against the foundational principles for successful family living.
Many children who have already been born have been called the unwanted generation. For various reasons the mother's pursuing a career seems more important than her staying at home with the youngsters, so the children are placed in day-care centers for others to raise. Linda Burnett, coauthor of the book The Unwanted Generation, says,
I am certain that my children would not develop the confidence and security, on which they will depend throughout their lives, to the same extent at a day-care center that they would at home. There seldom is an adequate substitute for the real parent.... Raising a child in our day is both the most difficult and rewarding task God calls a woman to do.... The infant stages of our children's lives are brief and yet the most important both psychologically and sociologically. After they are little, we will never again have a comparable opportunity to shape the lives of our children for good.
This is certainly true since 85 percent of their personality traits are formed in the first five years of their lives.
Since How to Keep Your Kids on Your Team provides principles for how to keep a family together, we would do well to turn our attention away from the liberated left; their track record speaks for itself. In their inability to keep the family unit functioning successfully, they have deemed it an unnecessary part of society. In other words, they are abandoning the ship that brought them into and through this life, and they are leaving it to break up on the reef of their own creating.
Your decision to read this book is evidence that you are not ready to abandon ship. If you as a parent truly desire to keep your children on your team, you must begin by embracing the fact that children are gifts from God.
Boo-Boos Or Blessings
Some parents refer to the child of an unexpected pregnancy as a surprise or an accident. Such talk, however, reveals the parents' limited perspective and often leads to a subconscious grudge against the child. Worse than that, such talk, if overheard by the child, will make him or her feel like a mistake or an unwanted burden and can only contribute to the child's low sense of self-worth. So, please, if one of your children "surprised" you, let it be the best-kept secret in town. There are no surprises from God's point of view. Fortunately for us, God does not have accidents. What may appear to be a surprise to man is always within the sovereign plan of God.
As Christians, we must not use the same standards non-Christians use in determining the value and desirability of a child. The couple who has ruled out the idea of a sovereign Source is left to judge the value of a child according to the circumstances into which that child is born. However, present circumstances must not be used to determine the value of a child. Children are gifts from God, and it is in this light that their value should be measured. Anyone having doubts about this needs only to spend time with a couple who cannot have children. The psalmist could not have been any clearer on this point when he said,
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. -Psalm 127:3-5
The First Family
Eve's response after having Cain serves as a good illustration of this point. After she conceived and gave birth, Eve said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord" (Genesis 4:1). The Hebrew word translated "I have gotten" means "to acquire." This term combined with the name used here for God-YHWH (or One who can be relied upon)-indicates that Eve viewed Cain as fulfillment of God's earlier promise to her:
I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children. -Genesis 3:16
She gratefully recognized God as the source of her first child.
Eve's response is especially interesting in that she knew the pain of childbearing was a direct result of her sin. Yet she did not associate the negative circumstances surrounding childbirth with the child himself. She saw beyond all that and recognized that Cain was a gift from the Lord.
But Do the Children Know?
The question now arises, What kind of message are you sending to your children? If in fact they are gifts from God, do they know that? How do your children perceive themselves in the context of your life? Do they see themselves as burdens or blessings? How they answer this last question will pretty much determine whether or not you can keep them on your team.
I can remember as a child being the last one chosen when the guys were choosing sides to play basketball. I knew I was a burden to the team and had been chosen simply because I was the only one left. I knew that if I did not show up the next afternoon to play, no one would miss me.
You can imagine how low my enthusiasm level was as I took my place on the court. You can imagine how unmotivated I was to play. I was not an important part of the team; I did not feel like a part of the team at all.
To keep your children on your team, you must let them know that you wanted them to be a part of the team to begin with. The degree to which this is communicated will greatly affect their self-image and thus their ability and desire to function as a part of the family unit.
Jack Taylor says,
I find joy in receiving my children in prayer as gifts from God. As I do it almost daily I find that it enhances my appreciation of them and my fellowship with them. Matters of temporal importance become trivial before the eternal investment afforded of time with my children. As I take God's view of my children, I see them being formed into his image and receive it as a finished matter. I have seen the end from the middle and the matter is settled. (One Home Under God [Nashville: Broadman, 1973], 109)
Jack also suggests a prayer that parents might use in receiving their children as gifts from God:
Father, in Jesus' name, we receive our children. They are gifts from heaven to us. Forgive us for impatience with their immaturity. We receive them to give them back to you to be used to complete and perfect us that we in turn might be used to perfect them. They are what we need as parents. We receive them not as our eyes behold them, but as you intend to make them ... perfect. We are delighted with your gifts to us and ask forgiveness for being less than completely pleased with them. They are to us a delight and a pleasure. We could not have made them more perfect than you have made them. We are happy to receive them here and now! In Jesus' name, Amen! (One Home Under God, 109)
Your children could be struggling with feelings of rejection because of some comments made in passing about the trouble their arrival caused you and your spouse in the early years of your marriage. Regardless of whether or not you really mean anything by these comments, you are communicating that the children are (or have been) burdens. Remember, it is not what you think that influences your children; it is what you communicate. What are you communicating to your children in regard to the role they play in your life? Do they view themselves as blessings or burdens?
As we conclude our discussion of this first principle, there are really two questions you need to keep in mind: (1) Do I view my children as gifts from God? (2) If so, do they know it? Incorporating this important principle into your thinking is the first step you can take in keeping your children on your team.
Applying Principle One
1. Describe to each child the positive events surrounding his or her birth.
2. Remind your children that they were answers to prayer.
3. Relate the lessons God has taught you and your spouse as a result of the birth of your children.
4. If it was a problem pregnancy, make your child aware of the alternatives that were available but dismissed because of your desire for him or her.
5. If your child is adopted, tell your child about the prayers and the joy that accompanied his or her arrival into your home.
Excerpted from HOW TO KEEP Your Kids On Your Team by Charles Stanley Copyright © 2007 by Charles Stanley. Excerpted by permission.
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