- Terri Camp Home school author and mother
- Published Nov 22, 2002
I'm always trying to come up with new and creative ways to encourage my children to behave in a manner which glorifies God. Okay, that's the spiritual way to say it. But often I simply want them to make "me" not look bad, especially in public.
I have really good children for the most part. But there are times that things can get "out of sorts" around our house when it seems the children are fighting a little more than my comfort level would allow. Or they just don't seem to be as nice to each other.
Preaching at my children is something I have learned that I can do quite well. I can lecture my children on the scale with any of the big time lecturers. However, what I've found is that the children, will sometimes nod off as I'm lecturing to them. No, they don't close their eyes, but inside their heads, they are sound asleep. They merely look like they are paying attention.
I know this to be true because moments later, they are back at the same annoying problem which prompted the lecture in the first place. Plus, deep inside me I know that when I would receive a lecture from my parents, it made me feel very small inside.
I don't like making my children feel small or insignificant. I also don't always want to be pointing out every little fault they have. I often would wish that God had assigned someone else to be the "watchful" eye of my children rather than me.
One night I realized that He actually has. All eight of my children have now professed faith in Jesus Christ. And with that God is working from the inside of their hearts in the form of the Holy Spirit. Now that frees me up a bit because I know that He can speak to their hearts. I've seen it repeatedly in my children.
Obviously this doesn't mean that my job as the parent is now complete. On the contrary, my task is even greater in that I need to help my children learn the voice of God and to heed that voice in their lives. Just as I have a free will to disobey God, so do my children. Naturally, I don't want that to happen.
Recently I took my children to see the Veggie Tales movie, "Jonah." I thought it was a great way to show children the importance of obeying the voice of God. To be quite honest with you, while I was watching the show I thought of a very long lecture to share with the children on the car ride home.
I wanted them to be sure they understood this whole concept about obeying God. Fortunately God saved me from myself and spared my poor children a very long ride home. This is what happened...
After the movie, David raced to the van and seated himself in the front passenger seat. After Briana got in she began to cry that she was planning to sit in the front seat. She went on and on about how she never gets to sit in the front seat and she had been looking forward to it. On and on she went.
I told her, "just sit down and be quiet." I was a bit perturbed that I spent all that money on a movie for them, took time out of my busy life for my children, and now she was crying and complaining. Not exactly fruitful thinking.
Then David said, "You can sit here Briana, I can sit here another time."
I was floored! What a nice thing to do. That is when I had my big idea! Maybe the Big Idea Company should come up with Fruity Tales. They could be talking bananas, pineapples and guava. They could tell stories of living the fruit of the spirit.
But then an even bigger thought entered my head. Maybe I could reward my children when I see them exhibiting the fruits of the spirit. We began talking, please note that I said talking, not lecturing, about the fruit of the spirit. We talked about how the fruits are evidence of Christ living in our lives and working in our hearts.
Then I decided it would be kind of fun to make a big fruit basket at home filled with all sorts of fruity things. When I would see a child exhibiting the Fruits of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control -- then I could reward them by telling them to pick from the fruit basket.
We went to the store and picked out some fruit snacks and other assorted candy that claimed to have fruit in them. Then we selected a great big basket as our fruit basket. All the while we talked about what the different words meant and how they could be evidenced in our lives. It was a marvelous lesson for all of us.
Just the other day Erica came to me and said, "Mommy, I think you were very self-controlled when Bryan was being naughty. Maybe you should pick out of the fruit basket?"
And so I did!
Listen to Terri's weekly broadcast for home schoolers at www.thepathhome.com
In addition to devoting herself to her husband and the eight children she home schools, Terri also enjoys writing and speaking to offer encouragement to women in an effervescent, humorous way. Visit her Web site at www.ignitethefire.com
or e-mail her at email@example.com