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Starting at Zero

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Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday.  Here I share whatever has been on my mind this week about parenting, our walk with the Lord and life in general.
One of the realizations I’ve been grappling with lately is that our children begin their lives with virtually no knowledge.  They don’t know the number 7, but see, it’s bigger than that. They also don’t know:
  • It’s spelled seven
  • It’s the number of days in a week
  • It looks like 7
  • It’s the quantity:  X X X X X X X
  • It’s the sum of 3+4
  • It comes before 8
  • It comes after 6
  • It’s an odd number
It puts a whole new spin on just teaching numbers, doesn’t it?

Of course, this is one tidbit of information, arguably merely academic.  While we tend to relegate learning to academic pursuits the truth is that for a young child, every aspect of life is learned.  Everything!  It begins with *simple* tasks like how to roll over or hold a crayon and progresses through the complex such as cooking a gourmet meal or mastering an instrument.  Here are just a few areas they must address:
  • Personal Care and Healthy Living
  • Character Development and Social Skills
  • Domestic Skills and Financial Management
  • Critical Thinking and Decision Making
  • Traditional Academic Pursuits
  • Enrichment and Extracurricular Pursuits
  • A Right View of God and Biblical Life Application   
Obviously, when I talk of a child starting from zero I am not referring to the traits their unique personalities bring or the inherent awareness of God we each possess.  Instead, I am referring to the knowledge they will gain, and gain at an unprecedented rate.  As overwhelming as the amount of items on that list might seem, I find myself even more overwhelmed by the reality that I am responsible to facilitate this learning.  The stanch reality is that if they do not learn critical items AND learn them correctly, their adult life will lack.  Let’s face it, we can easily point out those adults who made it through childhood without an understanding of how to manage their finances, eat healthy or even wash their own laundry.  But those skills are simply tasks!  What about those who can’t make good decisions, are hopelessly self-centered, can’t get along with others, are rude or have no moral standards?

This whole idea has brought me to two conclusions.

#1 – I need to be more patient and available to my children.  I often catch myself upset with something one of my children has done (or not done) only to realize that I never taught them the correct way to do it in the first place.  Sure, I may have quickly mumbled instructions.  Perhaps I even walked through the steps once.  However, learning is a process and children need practice.  Do you realize how many steps there are in washing your hands or the complex motor skills required to dress oneself?   And how much effort does it take to demonstrate gratitude or self control?  There’s a big difference between ignorance or lack of practice and true defiance.

#2 – I must be mindful of every influence in my child’s life.  Children have a lot to learn and it is a process that cannot be stopped.  Either I choose to consciously teach them what they must know in a correct manner or they will look elsewhere and soak up whatever they can find, good or bad.  I also must be careful about the subtle influences they receive from media and the world around them in general.  It is up to me to be present and to assess the path each of my children is taking, even when I relegate aspects of learning to other institutions such as school or church.  The responsibility for creating a whole individual ultimately rests on me.

What an awesome and overwhelming responsibility!  Dear Lord, please be my strength and grant me wisdom and patience.
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