“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Wisdom comes by making mistakes and learning from them. If we want to teach our children to make wise choices, we must let them practice choosing. We also need to let them suffer the consequences of their choices, whether those consequences are good or bad.
The choices we need to give our kids should be age-appropriate. It is appropriate for a 2-year-old to choose what picture book he wants you to read to him before he goes to bed. It is not appropriate for him to decide when his bedtime should be. He cannot tell the amount of time he needs to sleep in order to be healthy.
That is your job.
When giving choices to our children, we need to start with simple ones and work up to complex choices. We need to demonstrate to them that, as they choose wisely, we will give them opportunities for more complex choices.
A child must not dictate the decisions that rightly belong to the parents. A child can’t know what school is best when he or she is still in elementary school. However, by the time college-age is reached, the child should have major input in the decision where to attend.
As our children grow older, we need to have less voice in their decisions. We need to encourage them to make their own choices and live with the consequences. We shouldn’t always rescue them from the consequences of bad choices. If we do, it is crippling: they will not learn to be wise or responsible.
Kimberly Snider is a missionary to the Philippines.
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Copyright (c) 2003 Women’s Ministries of the Assemblies of God.