Monday, April 25, 2011

Train Up a Child - Good Work Ethics

This week's question from the TOS Blog Cruise is an oldie, but goodie.  It also applies to all parents, not just home school parents.  How do you instill a moral work ethic in your children, discouraging shortcuts, and or cheating?  As Christian parents, my husband and I always turn to the Bible for direction in how to raise our son.  It's the only real "how to" book out there.  It has an answer for everything.

Ever since Matthew was little we have used the Bible to instruct him.  It is our desire for him to learn to turn to God's Word for his own guidance as he grows and journeys through life.  So, when he would disobey or misbehave we would sit him down and talk with him about it and show him in the Bible where God also does not approve of his behavior or choice.  The following methods became a discipline "staple" in our house and have proven to be very effective....
  • Have him learn scriptures that pertained to whatever "infraction" he committed
  • Have him write a short essay about his behavior and why it was wrong
  • Have him write an apology letter to a person he may have sinned against
  • Good old spankin'...amen!
So, why not start early?  Even as an infant I began telling Matthew about Jesus.  Who is He?  What is His character like?  Of course, that all to famous phrase WWJD?  It's over-used and over-marketed, but it's a question that should be in the forefront of our minds, both young and old.  As Matthew has gotten older we have been talking with him more about a strong work ethic and honesty.

We are all sinners and that includes our "perfect in our sight" angels we call our children.  They will lie, sneak the extra cookie, peek or be tempted to peek at the answer to a quiz, and from time to time they will try to take the shortcut out of a chore.  It is going to happen; accept it now.  It's the prevention of it happening (too often) or what we do when it happens that makes the difference.  As a parent, a common mistake is to think that you are the best role model for your child.  You are not.  I know, it's a shocker for some.  Jesus is the best role model.  After all, we sin; we are tempted; we struggle with weakness.  Yes, I can be an example and also a role model to my son on how to deal with life and its struggles.  But, only Jesus can show my son what true love and perfection can look like.  He needs to be my child's #1 role model.

Maybe I'm being naive to think the answer to the question this week is simple.  Keep pointing back to Jesus.  If I keep teaching my son about Jesus and pointing him to Him as his main role model, then a good work ethic will follow.  If Matthew is not honest in his work, in his words, or in his actions then there are consequences.  Look back at the top of this post for examples of our staple disciplines.  Matthew also loses privileges like media time as a consequence.  But, above all, we direct him back to the Bible where he can have his life's instruction book.  We ask him questions like "Do you want to be the man that can't be trusted?", "Do you want to be known as lazy?", "Do you want to earn a grade based on your ability and knowledge or based on how well you cheated?"  Matthew has become quite adept in looking inside himself and identifying the kind of boy he wants to be today and the man he wants to become.