Three statements I came across in the past month have had me thinking about the roles of mothers as teachers in their children’s lives.
One was from a woman who was complaining that her children were getting too much homework in school.
“We are spending the whole evening doing homework. What time will I have to teach and train my children as the Bible tells me to?” she asked.
That popped at me. She considered it her role to teach and train her children. Not the school, not the church, not her house help. If her children lacked courtesy, guess who had failed? If they used nasty words, she took it as her fault. If they were rude and lacking in mercy…
The second was from a speech to mothers on catching teaching moments. “Mothers, take time to teach your children. Catch the teaching moments. This can be done anytime during the day, or during an early morning walk together. Mothers, you are your children’s best teacher. Don’t shift this precious responsibility to day-care centers or baby-sitters. A mother’s love and prayerful concern for her children are her most important ingredients in teaching her own…. Yes, mothers, teach your children the gospel in your own home, at your own fireside. This is the most effective teaching that your children will ever receive. This is the Lord’s way of teaching. The Church cannot teach like you can. The school cannot. The day-care center cannot. But you can, and the Lord will sustain you. Your children will remember your teachings forever, and when they are old, they will not depart from them. They will call you blessed-their truly angel mother. Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes time-lots of time. It cannot be done effectively part-time. It must be done all the time in order to save and exalt your children. This is your divine calling.”
The third was from the book “Faith-shaped Kids – Helping your Child Grow Spiritually” by Stephen and Valerie Bell.
” As parents, look to become spiritual opportunists, finding ways “whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning” (Deut 11:19) to say, “This is my God. This is how you recognise Him working in your life. This is a sign He’s here with us. Learn to look at life from a bigger perspective than human eyesight. Trust God.” You can show your children how eternal truths can jump of the pages of Scripture into real life, how words from sermons can be especially intended for us, how God becomes part of our internal dialogue through prayer. You share a walk of faith with your children, not just a set of beliefs.
I have been learning to catch the teaching moments. We were driving to school and a man crossed the road before cars and my son commented, “That person nearly got hit by the truck.” Teaching moment. I begun to express the importance of being careful when crossing the road, how to look right and left before crossing.
The next day we had lost our way and I was feeling hassled as I tried to read Google maps and road signs on a busy highway and answer a barrage of questions from my son on why we kept stopping all the time. I ignored him a number of times, which made his questions come faster. I lost my cool and yelled at him to stop talking because I needed to concentrate. Ten seconds later he told me, “Mum can I pray for you?” I gave him a stern look thinking he was asking if he can play with my phone. “He repeated the question: “Mum can I pray with you?” I felt God through that boy that morning. He prayed with me then asked if I could pray for him also. I did. By the time we finished the prayers, I had forgotten I was stressed or that we were lost. My son had extended grace to me in a very healing way. You see we always pray for each other in the morning and on this day, we had not prayed. But my son had caught the lesson.
When you spend time with your children, especially with your phone out of your face, you will catch the teaching moments. It will be in the questions they ask that present you an opportunity to explain truths about life or about crossing the road. It is in the news story about drought somewhere that allows you to speak about the important of not wasting food because others somewhere else have nothing to eat.
There will be opportunities to point out bad behaviour and good behaviour. take the time to explain why fighting is unacceptable or why sharing is good. Use the Lifebouy or Dettol advert to emphasize hand washing or Doc McStuffins to teach on the importance of teeth brushing.
Stay open, stay attentive to catch the teaching moments. Parents and especially mothers, it is your duty to teach and train your children. Learn to turn any setting into a classroom and teach when the moment presents itself.
Be a spiritual opportunist, consistently seizing the opportunity to teach. It will take time and energy and patience to answer 300 questions in 60 seconds.
If you don’t teach your children they will pick what they need from TV, the nanny or the bully at school.
Training will involve a practical aspect. You can’t train your child to ride the bike or kick a ball from the balcony. You have to get on the pavement or playground with him. Think of how tomato plants are helped to stand and run along a stake. Training means being the letter that is being read. Your children will catch the lessons you live, Training means being down in the dirt with the children. It means being the stake where the vines of your tomatoes grow. It means being the gardener helping the plants and pruning the branches. Training involves disciplining.
“Teach these laws to your children. Talk about these things when you sit in your houses, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 11:19