The Little Things that Count
Those of us who have children know that one of the main concerns is teaching them how to ‘behave’. Mok Chuan Hao reminds us that there is more than this to Christian parenting, and encourages us to lean on God for daily grace to parent our children His way.
Melisse and I have three children, Andrea (10), Timothy (7) and Emma (4). They have all been on the one hand a tremendous blessing, and on the other a continuous source of heartache, with their seemingly unrestrained and outgoing natures. Be it the overly enthusiastic answering of questions, or roaming about Junior Worship when all other children are seated nicely, or the never-ending reminders to greet people and not sprint away once the worship leader allows, we often wonder how come our kids are so different from their “乖” (guai = ‘well behaved’) parents, or so we would like to think.
It is difficult during the times that our children frustrate us to remind ourselves that they are God’s gifts and that we have our Heavenly Father as our example and His precepts to guide us. It is all too easy to roar like a tiger Dad/Mum to elicit immediate compliance, forgetting that it is the heart that we are concerned with. It would be much easier to ‘ban’ them from things of the world whose standards are so different from God’s (eg pop music), than to take the time to explain to the child what is wrong with it. It is difficult to watch one’s tongue at home, when surrounded in the office and mass media by unsuitable language. Even the language and content of books being peddled for today’s youth can be shocking.
Fortunately, there are many examples and resources available. We have many Uncles and Aunties to look for when advice is needed. We look at how other ‘naughty’ children of Uncles and Aunties have turned out to be just fine and take heart that God is in control. We return to the Bible and its precepts when we face dilemmas and hard questions and listen to the advice of Dr James Dobson and Pastor Paul Tripp.
At the church that I worshipped at when I was studying in the US, parents were publicly admonished by the Senior Pastor if their boisterous children were not deposited at the nursery. The nursery was situated in another building, and either Melisse or I would have to stay with Andrea at the nursery, thereby missing out on the entire service. This went on for my entire stint overseas. I am heartened that at Grace, the cry rooms (meant only for nursing mothers) are conveniently located, and there is much tolerance for toddlers that remain in the sanctuary. That is a clear and definite commitment by the congregation to bear with, inevitably, the odd sounds that emerge at the most inconvenient moments from the left-hand side of the sanctuary. Indeed, each time there is an infant dedication, I am reminded of my commitment to nurture each of our newest members as if they were my own, just as many Uncles and Aunties continue to do for the children in church. I encourage all to continue to do so, for did not our Lord direct: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”