Raising a Modern-Day Warrior
- Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
Raising a modern-day warrior is not for the fearful or faint of heart. Each time I observe a death toll, injury report, or a casket covered with an American flag, I am fully aware of the dangers my son will face. Almost twenty years ago, I attended a missionary conference when I was several months pregnant with my oldest son, Andrew. That night I bowed my heart before God, releasing my children to His life purpose for each of them. I have remained steadfast to this promise, encouraging my children to answer His unique call on their lives.
The evidence and irony of God selecting Andrew to serve Him in the military is clear. We have never owned a gun nor been hunting. We had absolutely no experience in how to raise a modern-day warrior; therefore, we were the perfect parents for God to choose, because we would have to rely on Him every step of the way!
I initially planned our home to be gun-free and nonviolent. In college I learned in all my Early Childhood Education courses that research showed aggressive behavior was formed by a child’s environment. I was “properly indoctrinated” to believe that impressionable children should not play with “violent” toys. Thereby, I was set on fulfilling my role in helping society to be peace-loving. Without God’s intervention, that might have been the end of my son ever becoming a modern-day warrior.
Training Your Child
You can imagine how befuddled I was when my preschool boys innately turned every normal object into a gun, knife, or projectile. Where did this come from? I had done everything by the book: no weapons of any kind were allowed in our home—no water guns, no tomahawks, no light sabers, and no cartoons or movies that had the slightest fighting scene. What had I done wrong? The answer was simple: I had used the wrong book!
The Bible teaches a different way of parenting. Proverbs 22:6 tells parents to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Since more than anything we were raising our children to be Godly, the Lord tutored us to know His Truth. Here are a few principles we learned from this one verse:
- Teach a child through experiences of submission to follow the way he should go.
- Realize the child’s way (characteristics) may be different from your way.
- A child is not a lump of pliable clay; he was molded by God’s hands, with a unique bent.
- To train a child properly, allow him to discover and develop his bent (way).
- When a child matures and leaves home, he will not depart from the way he has been trained.
- Rest in God’s promise; the early years of Godly training will help him stay God’s way.
The precepts in God’s Word, not worldly philosophies, should be applied in shaping our children. Over the years, as I observed my boys and other children playing together, it was obvious that boys possessed an innate tendency to fight. They enjoyed running in packs to hunt, gather, and defend with passion. Often, they picked up whatever they could find to make a weapon. Regardless of my initial pacifist coaching, my boys—when left alone to play—were the boys God created them to be!
The Homeschooling Difference
One advantage in homeschooling your children is the ability you have to adjust curriculum to further confirm your child’s way. Andrew’s knowledge base of wars, civilizations, and tactical combat methods grew alongside his rigorous, self-designed, physical, emotional, and spiritual preparedness. He has watched countless hours of history, military, survival, and outdoor TV programs. At first I would watch the shows with him to discuss any misleading or subjective material; as he grew older, Andrew’s own studies of the subjects guided him.
Being self-motivated, Andrew designed his own daily regimen, including weight lifting, pull-ups, sit-ups, mixed martial arts, diving, Airsoft, and a high-protein diet. Since a military career demands both physical and emotional fitness, he conditions by pushing himself to extremes with temperature/weather, lack of sleep (late nights or early mornings), and carrying heavy loads over long distances. When Andrew began high school, we started exploring his military options, which included direct enlistment at recruitment offices, ROTC programs, military schools, scholarships, and a wide variety of career paths in the different branches.
A modern-day warrior has many options from which to choose. The United States military is composed of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Guard, and Reserve. To be eligible, you must pass the military test called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Information and testing practice can be found at www.military.com/ASVAB. The applicant’s score on this test determines if he qualifies to enlist. A high score will qualify the candidate for more military occupational specialties and possibly a signing bonus.
While the test covers the basic areas of mathematics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and science, I was surprised to learn that it also tests the individual’s knowledge of electronics, auto/shop skills, mechanical comprehension, and his ability to assemble objects. Since Andrew does not have experience in all of these areas, we purchased a study guide from a local bookstore to help him prepare.
After Andrew turned 18, a recruiter called to invite him for lunch (parents were not invited). Many people, especially friends who are career officers, have warned us to be cautious about a recruiter’s verbal promises and to make sure you get everything in writing before you enlist. Recruiting offices have assigned quotas to meet; therefore, some recruiters might not have your child’s best interest in mind. Instruct your child to not sign anything until you can look over it together.
If your child wants to attend college, I recommend that you visit the ROTC departments at the college (instead of a recruitment office) to inquire about reserve, military courses, scholarships, and career options. No two ROTC programs are identical, so by the fall of his senior year visit each campus facility your child is considering.
Initially, we struggled with the thought of Andrew enlisting before attending college. We didn’t want him to be shortsighted and rush into a decision based on the excitement of getting in the action. Peer pressure to enlist without attending college first was significant, especially since he has friends in the military. We were faced with making a decision of how we were going to respond. I concluded that I would never want my son to enter the military with the distraction of wondering if his parents were pleased with him or not.
Currently, Andrew is still looking into all opportunities. After hours of searching, we finally found the direct link to apply online for four-year ROTC scholarships. If Andrew is offered and accepts a four-year scholarship, he must make a commitment to serve for eight years. To keep communication paths open, I decided to listen to my son, help gather information, and support his final decision.
Spiritual Preparation for the Battlefield
My husband and I continue to prayerfully lay Andrew’s future before God and seek wisdom in preparing his soul for a life lived on a battlefield. In a spiritual sense, all Christian parents must prepare their children for war. I have taught Andrew to place more faith in God’s ability than in the military weapons and training. When his back is against the wall, when there seems to be no way, when the odds are completely against him, I want him to recall that he serves a Mighty Warrior God who will move the mountains, guide him, and never leave him. I want my son to be strong enough in character to do what is right in the sight of God, even if it is not what others choose to do.
I am honored, but tearful, when I consider that God chose my son to serve in this way. Just a few weeks ago, Andrew explained to me: “I don’t want people to hurt. I know I am prepared to be able to take the hurt for them. In a way, like Jesus took our suffering on the cross, I want to help people to not suffer.” My understanding of my son’s calling became clear, and I will always ponder this in my heart.
Lindy Abbott is a passionate follower of Jesus with a strong understanding of the Biblical, Christian worldview. She is a certified teacher and a homeschool mom of three teens. From childhood, she discovered writing as her way to express what she felt and learned. Lindy is a published author, freelance writer, editor of a homeschool newsletter, and avid blogger. Read her regular posts here.
Publication date: August 29, 2012
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