April 23, 2014

The Biblical Trustee Family – What Does This Mean for a Mother in Her Home?

First read Craig’s article which was in the same issue of Keystone: Shepherding Our Families as Trustees for God
The below article is a companion article to Craig’s article Shepherding Our Families as Trustees for God

The Biblical Trustee Family – What Does This Mean for a Mother in Her Home?

by Craig & Barbara Smith
I am getting excited about promoting a concept that the late RJ Rushdoony expressed in “The Biblical Trustee Family”, which appeared in the January Keystone (or view it at: http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2794.
It is so exciting to read “The Biblical family is the primary force in the fulfilment of the Dominion Mandate and the Great Commission”. The Dominion Mandate is in Genesis 1:26-28 where God gave man the charge to take dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. The Great Commission is at Matthew 28:19-20.
What I would like to do now is show how this has not worked and then how it has worked in our family – living out each day and training up our children in the ways of God in our modern world.
As many of you know, Craig and I were both trained up to have difficulties within our family. Craig grew up in a very matriarchal family. His father was never there. He left for work before the children got up, and he arrived home after they were in bed. Craig can remember every conversation he had with his very successful professional father. Craig’s grandmother loved to have a man around her…as a fashion accessory. Craig watched a lot of TV as he was growing up. I had a strong beginning to my family: no TV, meals around the table, we all loved to help my Dad on the farm. But then at about 12, my parents, wanting to give me the best education they thought possible, sent me off to boarding school. There I began to pull away from my parents’ influence in my life. When I left school at 16, there was no questions about what to do – go to the big city for further training and work and pursue the social life that goes with it.
The Lord converted me to Christ at 19. I then got involved with The Navigators, an organisation which was involved in evangelism and personal growth. In this organisation I was being trained for leadership. So my early life I was trained in emotional entanglements (the social life) and to be a leader, to be independent, self sufficient and other strong leadership characteristics which are great in themselves but not helpful to my role as a submissive wife and for building a strong family. (For more on dealing with marriage difficulties, go to http://tinyurl.com/3vnnp7 and look for: Keeping Going When the Going Gets Tough – Parts 1-3.)
Let us jump a few years to when we have four children. What did our family look like? From the outside it looked great. Craig and I were very involved in the community, we had four lovely children, and we were very busy. We were homeschooling the older children: Craig in the mornings and me in the afternoons. We had a family business which we both worked very hard in. We were concerned about socialisation, so I had set up a support group for home educators and had activities every week, sometimes several times a week. The children played sports, and I was often in the car taking children to practices or to games or swimming or field trips, etc. Craig was also setting up a national home education organisation, “ChomeS,” Christian Home Schoolers of New Zealand (later to become the Home Education Foundation) while I was fully involved in the Manawatu Home Educators. Not only that, Craig was on the Executive Committee of a Political Party while I was the Chairperson of a support team to a Fostering Organisation. We also fostered heaps of children, so many we lost count. Two would leave in the morning and then two more would arrive in the evening. We thought, “Isn’t this great? We are really involved in the community doing great work for the Lord.”
Not only that, our children belonged to several clubs: ATC (Air Training Corps) where they met one night a week and would also have weekend activities and camps to go to. They would go to Rally one other night a week while Craig and I were out two or three nights a week. What did this look like? Monday night I was out at a fostering meeting; Tuesday Craig out at a Political Meeting; Wednesday was ATC; Thursday was Rally; Friday would have meetings for either Craig or me. During the day the children were having their activities. Saturday was busy with sports, and then on Sunday the children went to Sunday School during the Worship service. We were a busy household, and there was much to keep us apart as a family.
Praise God, Craig had a conviction about having meals around the table. So we sat around the table for all our meals. And by God’s grace we didn’t have a TV. So most of our training of the children happened around the Dinner Table, both during family meals and while practising hospitality toward others.

Let’s look at this again in many typical families:

* The children go to school.
* Mum or Dad are out 2 or 3 nights a week.
* Children have school sports/music/drama/dance practices after school many afternoons.
* Children have school sports/music/drama/dance com-petitions/performances on many Saturdays.
* Children have social and hobby clubs 1 or 2 nights a week.
* Children have homework nearly every night of the week.
* Children go to Sunday School during the Sunday Worship Service.
* Children go to Rally then Youth Group then Young Adults every year they’re at home.
* There are weekend camps to take children away from home several times a year.
* Then children want to go on overnight stays every so often.
That is not all. There is the TV, cell phones, computers, MP3 players, playstations, etc., which isolate the children and the parents from the rest of the family. Then if Mum has a job/voluntary work apart from and independent of her husband’s vocation/calling/ministry, the family’s home-focussed kingpin (mum) goes missing, and there is little holding the family together anymore.
When do parents get time with their children with a calendar like that? And what quality is the time that they do get?
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Everyone is tired from all their activities. There is very little left of quality time for training children. Quality time comes out of quantity time spent with children. You can’t just bring on quality time. Quality time comes from having a good relationship with our children, from having their hearts.
With the programme such as we had (and also the typical programme above), when do parents get the time to train up their children in the way that they should go? There will be things suffering in the family. When our children are little, they are lovely and sweet. We have the odd rebelliousness, but that is easily dealt with. But let me tell you that as our children grow up, they hide their rebelliousness very well for a number of years. We think our family is sweet; then quite suddenly we have huge problems on our hands, and we don’t know how they arrived or what to do about them. Not only are our children and our marriages affected but also our health. I have struggled with bad arthritis and other pain for a long time, probably from taking on more than I should have.
So as mothers in the 21st century who constantly have the pressure on them to go out to work, to get involved in the community, to help their husbands in their Dominion Work and to Disciple their children, we need to look at what is realistic. Yes, we can do all those things, and often women can do it all better than men. Often an opportunity comes along (well-paid job, unique ministry opportunity), and we are very tempted to accept it. We can talk to our husbands and present the opportunity very excitingly in such a way that he gives his blessing. While he suspects it will drain her and take her attention away from her home and children, his thinking is that he wants to please her, to let her find some personal fulfilment “just for her,” and that when she does, somehow then she will be happier to concentrate on homemaking, helping him out, training the children in a more refreshed way. This is a lie of Satan, the same kind of deceit he used on Eve (see 1 Timothy 2:14). While we can do most things, and most things all at once, we cannot do everything well and do it all at once. Something will suffer. In our case it was the children, our marriage and my health. What are the most important things to me? Yes, my marriage, my children and my health. So.......
Skip ahead 10 years, and we now have eight children; the three oldest have left home, so we have five in the nest at the moment. Our journey to where we are now has not been easy, and we have been misunderstood by many, and we have also had other issues take up a lot of our time like the anti-smacking bill. When Genevieve was 21 and Zach 19, they left for a two-year OE to the States, the first year working for Diana Waring. We started getting Doug Phillips’ newsletters from Vision Forum in San Antonio, liked them a lot and encouraged Genevieve and Zach to look them up, which they did. The second year they began working for Rainbow Resources in Illinois. Meanwhile back in New Zealand, I travelled the country speaking on home schooling with Above Rubies. When they asked me to speak on “Holiness, Righteousness and Purity in Youth,” I was forced to do a lot of study on the subject which led to the compiling of the booklet “Training Children and Youth to Be Pure” (http://hef.org.nz/2007/training-our-children-to-be-pure/). So the Lord was working on Genevieve while she was in the States, and He was working on Craig and I back here in New Zealand.
I gave up the leadership of the Manawatu Home Educators (MHE) to help Craig with building up CHomeS and later on with the formation of the Home Education Foundation. We went from parttime voluntary work to being contracted full-time to The Home Education Foundation and being nearly fully supported by donations from home educators. So that meant that Craig’s work load was decreased: he was no longer trying to make an income as well as do all the voluntary work in helping home educators getting started, dealing with the MoE and ERO, putting out a bi-monthly Keystone, a monthly TEACH Bulletin, etc.
Next I gave up my roll in the fostering organisation. Giving up this and MHE were two of the best things I have done for my family. I was capable of doing both of these and did a very good job of both, but I could not see at the time how much it robbed me of my family and robbed them me. When I look back now, I can see how it kept me from having good interpersonal relationships with my children. I know some don’t believe this, but we are convinced that no matter what age they are, our children crave a good, very close personal relationship with us their parents. Once this is lost, it is very hard to gain back. Even though our children crave it, they don’t know how to get it from us. All they usually understand is that something is not right. In fact, instead of coming to us to talk about it and draw us out (wise actions of a mature person, not a child), our children will often resort to rebelliousness to gain our attention (more in keeping with a child’s lack of maturity). Then we think that they don’t want to spend a lot of time with us. It becomes a vicious circle.
Genevieve came home from overseas to work for her Dad for no pay instead of going and working for a lawyer. Charmagne also gave up her part time job working as a doctor’s receptionist to come work at home for nothing. Their objective in doing this was to strengthen our family as a unit and to improve interpersonal relationships. We wanted to pursue family values as opposed to individual agendas.
Other things we changed: we pulled the children out of ATC, and the younger ones are not going to start. We don’t have the boys playing soccer any more. It was one of the worst sports to divide our family: practice one night a week then games at different fields and sometimes different towns on a Saturday. Then our boys were not available for the team tournaments on a Sunday. That was always a problem. Our children don’t go to Youth Group or Youth Camps, kids clubs, Sunday School during the worship service. We don’t watch TV, our children don’t have cell phones, there are no playstations or computers in their rooms, and we screen what the children read and listen to, etc.
“Oh, my!” you’ll say. “What do they do?” We love to celebrate birthdays. But we don’t have a lot of the same age children coming to the party. We invite families over. Or we might have a father/son sports afternoon or a high tea party for mothers and daughters. We entertain a lot but love to do that family to family. We will watch a video occasionally as a family. We endeavour to read good books out loud in the evenings or even to work late. Our focus is less on entertainment and pleasure and more on edification.
We highly recommend you listen to the tape “Changing the Heart of a Rebel” at this link: http://hef.org.nz/2008/changing-the-heart-of-a-rebel/. You can read this message at this link as well. This tape has helped us to be strong in pulling closer together and not letting things of the world pull our children away from us. We see now that a strong relationship with our children will be more effective in keeping them on the straight and narrow, “the way they should go”. We are able to train them more easily as they are less distracted since we have allowed fewer distractions into our family life.
To keep a child from rebelling later in his youth is all about who has the child’s heart. Do you have your child’s heart? The child’s heart can be won by his parents, his music teacher, sports teacher, neighbour, peer group, youth group leader, etc. Children always want to have a good relationship with their parents, and when we get too busy for them, they play up to get our attention. The more the children struggle to get our attention, the naughtier the children get. Then it is like a vicious circle. The naughtier the children are, the more the parents think that they can’t come down hard on them. Parents think they will completely lose their children if they come down hard. Sorry, but if that’s how the parents think, it is likely they have already lost them.
We have found that children want their parents to come home more and get fully involved with them again (it is hard work). When a mother works for income or on a voluntary basis away from her family, she may end up reaping rebellous youth later on and marraige and health difficulties. I see now that if I had continued being involved in the MHE and fostering organisations, it could have been very detrimental to our family.
Let me be clear: I am not against mothers working. I am against mothers working for another man who is not her husband. I am not against mothers earning an income or doing voluntary work outside of the home…as long as it is part of her husband’s and family’s ministry/calling/business/vision/vocation. I am against mothers striving to please another man or an organisation of which her husband and family are not a part, pouring out her best and having only the leftovers for her husband and children. Surely it is the Lord’s order that her husband and children always have the first claim on her loyalties. This is how we would express the ideal. Individual circumstances will sometimes mean exceptions to this pattern.
So by circling the wagons around our family, we have been able to really work on deeper personal relationships. Our aim as a family has been to help Craig fulfil the Dominion Mandate. Everyone in our family has a purpose; they are all headed in the same direction; in helping advance the other’s purpose each automatically helps to advance his own purpose as well…and everyone is excited about it.

So what does a Biblical Trustee Family look like:

1. Father has a vision for the entire family and the future.
2. Father sees his vocation/calling/ministry as that part of God’s Creation over which he is to exercise dominion and  stewardship on behalf of Jesus Christ, his Lord.
3. Wife and children fulfil their roles by helping Father fulfil his role.
4. Strong interpersonal relationships are both a cause and effect of the family working and pulling together.
5. A unified family’s projects tend to be larger in scale, facilitating involvement and greater influence for Christ in the community.
6. Children honour, obey and love being with their parents…and onlookers are both astounded and blessed.

Then to take this further, how does it look in a multigenerational family:

1. We closely examine how we are home educating our children and constantly assess what it is we are trying to accomplish. Our eight children are aged 28 down to 2. We have been home educating with an exemption from the Ministry of Education for 22 years so far, and Lord willing, we will be home educating for at least another 14 years: 36 to 40 years in total. We are going to be aged 71 (DV) when our youngest is 16!! We need wisdom to order our ways to last the long term. Because we cannot do everything, we must choose those most important things, do those exceptionally well and relax about the rest.
2. What are we training our children for...their careers, incomes, possessions, etc., or something much bigger? Do we want our sons to be in the “Rat Race” working long stressful hours to gain promotions, status and fatter pay cheques? Maybe a home business, being self employed, with quite possibly a lot less pay and possibly a lot less stress, would fit in with our long term goals of building strong Trustee Families. So how does that change what we are teaching our children? Can our children begin at a young age to be self employed yet as working for the Lord; can they develop entrepreneurial skills that will advance the Kingdom of God and not just their own private agendas? Pete, our new son-in-law, began building up his woodworking business when he was 14. He now has the woodworking business, a toolmaking business, a saw mill, kiln and lumber yard. He started small as a boy and built it all up and without going into debt, a Kingdom principle all but forgotten these days. Do we want our daughters to pursue their own qualifications and separate careers while of necessity putting aside any preparation for the tasks 99% of them are called to and will fully embrace for the bulk of their best years: being submissive wives, home educating mothers, disciplemakers, homemakers, healers, helpers and hospitality experts of excellence? Intellectual and academic excellence and higher education are definitely not exclusive to modern secular, anti-Christian universities. Apart from paper qualifications, which are sometimes necessary to pursue specific careers, an excellent higher education of true substance can and historically has been routinely gained via private study while serving at home, in the community, in the workplace and in the marketplace.
3. We are encouraging our children to honour each other and their parents and on into the future with their own children. We recently saw a wonderful example of this idea of carrying into the future, through the present, things of value we have inherited from the past, things God has delivered into our hands as trustees, things worth honouring and valuing on His behalf, things worth passing on to future generations. The oldest son of old friends of ours from Afghanistan invited us to dinner in Wellington. We had not had a lot to do with this family over the last 10 years. Their youngest son had just arrived back from a visit to Afghanistan, where our friends are currently residing for about a year. While he was there, his father said that he wanted to honour his father (now deceased) by visiting some of his father’s old friends in Kabul. That made a huge impression on this 23-year-old son. So when he got back to New Zealand, he talked about it with his oldest brother. They decided they could honour their Dad by inviting his old friends from Palmerston North to dinner. We had a wonderful evening being hosted by our
friend’s children.
While this idea may sound complicated, please note how it works itself out: having a meal around the table while being engrossed in edifying conversation. Nothing more complicated than that. The Bible calls it hospitality, and Romans 12:13, I Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, Hebrews 13:2 and I Peter 4:9 pretty well command it.
4. To selectively quote Rushdoony again: “We as the living members of our family see ourselves as the trustees of the family blood, rights, property, name, children, inheritance, welfare and education. We have this inheritance from the past to be preserved and developed for the future. The head of the family is not the head in any personal sense: when conservative Christians think of the godly family, they tend to think of the individual man as exalted as head of the household rather than
placed strictly in a trusteeship, in a position of custodial powers. The authority of the husband, and of the wife, is not personal but theological and is a trusteeship for God first of all, and then the family. Therefore the head of the trustee family looks to lead by means of service, education and discernment – not by laying down the law or lording it over his wife and children – with an eye toward future generations and their life of service and obedience to the Living God. In this way the family becomes the basic church, state, school, society, welfare agency and social power, all performed in terms of God’s law and grace. In this way the godly family commands the future.”

Conclusion

So as a mother I have choices. I can be foolish and with my own hands tear down my house by working outside my husband’s/family’s calling; by spending too much time in front of the computer, TV, on the phone, etc. Or I can be wise and build my house (Proverbs 14:1) by taking dominion over my role as a wife and mother. This means being there for my husband and children all the time; helping my husband in his business and ministry and voluntary work; training my children in Godliness, not just giving them busy work while I do my thing; working out our goals and working through them each day. I think we will find that the highest goals just require us to spend time with the children: we can rule the world by rocking the cradle.
Taking Dominion as a wife and mother helps us in so many areas. We don’t take any nonsense from our children, as we know what is best for them. It helps us to be more consistent in disciplining and discipling our children. Because we are confident in God, we are confident in taking charge, enforcing God’s standards upon our children and households — because He has appointed us, not we ourselves, and because we are striving to extend His Kingdom on earth, not work our own personal agendas. Taking Dominion helps us to rise above both depression and burnout since we are focussed less on ourselves and more on Him. Since He is calling the shots, our goals and workloads are more realistic. We set clear and proper priorities, start at the top of the list, work through as many as make us comfortably stretched each day and don’t fret about the rest. The next day is a new day, so we start afresh at the top of the list, for His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 2:22-23; Matthew 6:33-34).
Our children are with us for too short a time. It goes so fast especially when you realise that the main time for influencing children is up until about ages 10-12. We can loose our children’s hearts very easily. Then it is hard work regaining them. Let us take Dominion from the beginning and work hard at training our children. God does not promise that it will be easy. Most nights we will fall into bed tired if not exhausted. But “He gives to His beloved sleep,” (Psalm 127:2; Ecclesiastes 5:12).
Our children thrive when we take Dominion: when they know we’re taking charge and their days are full of training, dicipleship and discipline. “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; ‘Many women have done excellently, but
you surpass them all’” (Proverbs 31:28-29).
(Craig is originally from California while Barbara grew up on a large high-country sheep station in the Hakataramea Valley near Kurow where she’d dig mountains of sheep manure from under the shearing shed by day, hunt eels in the river by night and jump out of hovering helicopters into snow drifts on remote ridges too steep to land and go searching for buried ewes and lambs after a freak storm. They’ve home educated all eight children since the first was born in 1980.)

From Keystone Magazine

April 2008, Vol. XIV No. 74
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: barbara@hef.org.nz

To order a subscription to Keystone Magazine do one of the following:

send email to sales@hef.org.nz with visa number

post cheque or visa number to PO Box 9064, Palmerston North, New Zealand

fax: 06 357-4389

phone: 06 357-4399

Trademe (fees added):  http://www.trademe.co.nz/Members/Listings.aspx?member=2366144

Sella (No added fees):  http://www.sella.co.nz/store/4ym9qg/home-education-foundation/display-100

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From the Smiths:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/craig-smith-26-january-1951-to-30-september-2011/

Updated 2 June 2012: Life for Those Left Behind (Craig Smith’s Health) page 6 click here

*****

Needing help for your home schooling journey:

http://hef.org.nz/2011/needing-help-for-your-home-schooling-journey-2/

And

Here are a couple of links to get you started home schooling:

http://hef.org.nz/getting-started-2/

and

http://hef.org.nz/exemptions/

This link is motivational:
http://hef.org.nz/2012/home-schooling-what-is-it-all-about/

Preventing and Regaining the Rebellious Heart

Preventing and Regaining the Rebellious Heart

By Craig and Barbara Smith

Craig and I were married in 1979. We have 8 children and 4 grandchildren. We have home educated for 30 years (24 with an exemption) and still have at least 11 years to go.

We began home educating our children at a time when:

  • Hardly anyone else was doing it — no older veterans
  • No curriculum except ACE and state school text books
  • No older women around
  • No family around
  • Both of us from non-Christian backgrounds — so had a lot to learn still

So looking back over the last 30 years of parenthood, we see that we have made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot. We began schooling our children at home and progressed to educating them at home with an emphasis on training them to think and concentrating a bit more on their character. Now we see the need to be building strong relationships with each child and also immersing our children in the Scriptures as it is the Scriptures that will thoroughly equip them for every good work (II Timothy 3:17).

We were greatly influenced by a Parents Centre leader back in 1980 when she said that “Your children will grow up in spite of you.” We knew there was something fishy about this statement, for it hit us both in the wrong place. We came to realise that this statement represents a non-Christian worldview where you take what comes and hope for the best. No, we wanted to be involved a great deal more than that in the training of our children, something more like the idea in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” One of our life verses is Psalm 112:1-2: “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments! His descendants will be mighty in the land.” We are further challenged by Malachi 4:6 and Luke 1:17 which express the key concept that we must turn our hearts to our children if we want them turning their hearts to us.

Why Do We See Rebellion in Our Children?

*The nature of the child: Proverbs 22:15 — “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of the child.” As Andrew Peduwa said when he was in New Zealand, any correction needs to hurt — especially for boys. When we visited with Jonathan Lindvall (of Bold Christian Living), we talked about this verse. My children have their own set of foolishness, your children have their own set of foolishness. When a group of children get together like on the school play grounds, Church fellowship times or just meeting together in the street with other children, the quantity of foolishness multiplies and soon overflows into sinful behaviour. This even happens in our own back yards when the parents get together to chat and fellowship inside while the children play unsupervised outside. Always try to be aware of the conversations in your back yard as well as in your driveway. Our children are rarely allowed to ride their bikes and play in the street before 9am, after 3pm, in the weekends or on holidays when they’re likely to strike up conversations with random schoolkids passing by. In fact, I try to spend a lot more time with our children during those times (as a strong preference, not as a non-negotiable). All because of the foolishness that dwells in every child and because my children’s hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

This verse and the one following it scare me because God promises to give to us according to our ways, according to the fruit of our doings. I don’t want God giving to me or my children according to my deceitful and desperately wicked heart. So I encourage myself, my children and you and your children to delight in the Lord, for then He will give us the sanctified desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). We now also try to do everything as a family, father/child or mother/child activity. So wherever we go, we try to take a child/ren with us … we try, but don’t always succeed. When it comes to celebrations like birthdays, we will either invite one or two families around or have a parent/child activity. Our sons love to have a father/son party playing soccer, then the food, then a softball game to finish up. Our daughters like a mother/daughter high tea in fancy dresses, gloves and hats with fancy food set out in three-tier plates with bone china, etc.

*Education: Since 1877, the State Schools have taken over the lion’s share of raising children — parents look for other things to do, children pick up disrespectful, arrogant attitudes and worse from the multiplied foolishness of children massed together in institutionalised schools.

*Legislation now criminalises parents who would correct children: -Section 59 of the Crimes Act was re-written to say that while reasonable force may be used to control children, the correction (discipline, training) of children by the use of any degree of force is a criminal act, not to be justified under any circumstances.

*We parents are undisciplined & inconsistent: Lou Priolo says in The Heart of Anger, “What is the first rule for disciplining children? You must have more discipline than the child.” It all begins with us parents: if we are not consistent in correcting our children, we provoke them to anger (Ephesians 6:4), then we loose their hearts. Do any of you have children who just flare up? Well, we do. And Genesis 4:3-7 has really helped us in this. It says that sin lies at our door and its desire is for us. But we must rule over it (RSV says master it). Cain didn’t as you will read in the next verse. We need to rule over or master sin in our own lives, then help our children to rule over or master the sin in their lives.

I took an unusual step to do this in Jeremiah’s life when he was younger. On the first day of the month, I told him he had to master his sin of flaring up, exploding in anger for whatever reason, by the first of next month. After that I would give him a smack for doing so (this was before Section 59 was amended). I privately determined that this was the most important thing for that month. It didn’t matter what studies did or didn’t get done during that month: I wanted to help Jeremiah to master his sin. So I gave him extra jobs and other children’s jobs 1) to give myself more opportunities to become consistent in pointing out this sin, which I would do by reading / quoting Genesis 4:3-7 to him; and 2) to give Jeremiah more opportunities to master this sin on his own. I would remind him as the month went on that we were getting closer and closer to the first of next month, and he was still not mastering his sin of flaring up. The first of the month arrived. Jeremiah flared up. Mum smacked Jeremiah, and it hurt. This happened for several days. By the end of the week, however, I realised that I had stopped smacking Jeremiah. Jeremiah couldn’t master this on his own, but those few consistent smacks were very effective in helping him to master the sin of flaring up.

*Our culture: Individualism reigns supreme; everyone does what is right in his own eyes. And some parents even so thoroughly expect their children to rebel against household rules, that they see it as normal and not an issue for discipline.

*Immunisations/food allergies, antibiotics, etc: A very good book on this is Good New for the Alphabet Kids by Michael Sichel, DO, ND, PhD. He says autism is curable, and if the profound disease of autism is curable, then its near relatives — Aspergers, ADHD, ADD, ODD, PDD, RS, SMS, OCD, NOS should also be curable. And they are! His book is about how to reverse learning and behavioural disorders without drugs.

*Parents spending too much time with their business/ministry, newspaper, TV, DVDs, sports, their friends, etc., without their children being involved with them: At one conference, a couple came up to me and said that their son had been misbehaving. Their punishment was to forbid him to go on a week-long tramping/hunting trip with his father and his friends. After hearing us talk they wondered if the punishment was the wrong one. I said that it certainly was. Often our children are naughty because they are wanting to get our attention. They are desperate to spend some time with us. They know when they misbehave that they will get our attention (even bad attention is better than no attention). This father needed to find a different punishment for his son. This father needed to take his son on the trip for some desperately needed father-son time. Never make a punishment, or correction as we prefer to say, that deprives your child of time with you.

We do not like using time-out as a way of correcting our children. We need to find something that will not deprive our children of any time with us. You would think that when we home educate our children, they would be getting plenty of time with us. But no, our children always want more. At one time our 7-year-old said he wanted more time with Craig … even though he was getting several hours a day already. He suggested making things in the garage. So for the next year, Craig and one of the children (soon they all wanted part of the action) would get up early to spend some time in the workshop making things out of wood before breakfast. The children loved it. Now Craig has a truck run each morning, so a different child loves to get up at 5am and go on this run with him each morning.

*Parents have lost the heart of their child: This issue we will address more fully below.

So What Can We Do to Regain and Keep Our Children’s Hearts?

*Train our children in love: Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:1-9

*Do not let ANYONE else steal your child’s heart:

The opposite of letting someone else steal your child’s heart is to make sure you keep it. Do things with them all the time. Whenever you do anything, think “Can I include a child in this?” Find ways to spend time with your children. We love to read to them when they are doing their jobs around our home — the dishes; hanging out, bringing in and sorting the washing; tidying their bedrooms; cleaning the bathroom and other rooms; massaging our feet; brushing my hair; etc. Listen to your children, even if you have heard everything they have to say from their six older siblings over the years. We need to listen to their ideas and plans in detail. Listen as they tell us all about the book they are reading or the outing they have been on. Jeremiah has a thousand new ideas a minute (well it feels like that). I got to the stage where I would say, “That wouldn’t work,” after his second sentence. This really frustrated him. I had to learn to listen to all his ideas and comment at the end. I won his heart back by listening to his ideas. Talk to your children about what you are doing. As you go about doing things in your home, garden and in the garage, talk about it. Explain why you do things certain ways and not other ways. Get them helping you whenever and wherever. I know it is hard to always be doing this over and over again with each child. I know it takes longer, and the job is not done quite so well. But the end result is worth it. Eventually your child will be able to do it well, and you will still have the heart of your child.

Those who know Craig really well know that the very last thing that he would ever allow his children to have was a cat or more particularly a dog. Craig grew up with dogs and knows how much work they are. When one of our children begged her Dad for a kitten, he relented and said yes to the kitten, “But never ask for a dog.”  Well recently Craig was struggling with keeping the heart of Jeremiah. And when Jeremiah actually asked for a dog, he only hesitated a little to say “Yes” because he knew it would send a huge message to him that he loved him enough to have this huge dog in our back yard, leaving its calling card everywhere, digging up plants, scratching the back door, etc.

Clubs/classes/teams, etc., can be a great place for our children to learn new things and gain new skills. The trouble, however, is when friendships developed there are extended beyond the activity. Let your children be friends with others at choir / horse jumping / night classes / highland dancing / ballet / sports clubs / woodworking / music, etc. But most of the time you will want to let these friendships stay there. We have heard of too many parents who have trouble with a child who has formed a heart relationship with someone (their age or a teacher) at an away-from-home activity. The parents have lost the child’s heart and ask, “What can we do now?” So try to keep those friendships there at the activity. Generally, have no after-activity contact unless it is with the whole families. If your child particularly wants to have another (same age or teacher) come to your home, then invite the whole family and make it a family gathering, not just for the two people.

*Do not let ANYTHING else steal your child’s heart: Read my article “Training Our Children to Use Technology” (see link 8 below, at end of article). Don’t let your children get into some technology too early and don’t be afraid to take things away from your rebellious child. Sometimes our children will land a job in unhealthy places. Check out their work environment, especially if it is an all-male workshop or such like: there can be unhealthy calendars or posters on the walls. Some workmates may be a bad influence on your child. Be quick to consider getting your child to change jobs if this is the case.

If anyone or anything has stolen your child’s heart away from you, then these things need to be removed from the child as soon as possible. You may think that you will loose your child’s heart if you take away things like their job, friends, music teacher, sporting coach, cell phone or internet, etc. But if you are already thinking like that, then you probably have lost their heart already. In taking these things away, you may regain your child’s heart. But it is not just about taking these things away from your child. It is about replacing these things with you (your child desperately wants more time with you, doing things with you). Listen to SM Davis on “Changing the Heart of a Rebel” at link 2 below.

Now All This Takes Work

*Strive for holiness and purity in yourself first and then your children: We have to be what we are calling our children to be. Deuteronomy 6:1-9 talks about us as parents first, then it talks about how we are to train up our children.

puritydiagram1

Living life above this “sin” line means striving for Biblical holiness, righteousness and purity.

Living below this “sin” line is characterised by worldliness: unholiness, unrighteousness and impurity.

In the diagram above, we have an illustration of two paddocks here on earth, two spheres of existence, the one above inhabited by the sheep redeemed by their Lord, and the lower one inhabited by the goats. The problem with us today is that we are continually crowding the fenceline, trying to see how close we can get without going over instead of exploring the uncharted, virgin territory above characterised by the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:23 says there is no law against these, no fenceline on the other side! Yet some of us actually stand on the fenceline below in such a way, we can’t see the line anymore between right and wrong, good and bad, wise and unwise. Our children need us leading them away from this fenceline of worldliness and  into the light and freedom of righteous obedient living above.

*Talk to your children from early days about problems and temptations they face: A wonderful time for this is once your children are in bed after the lights are out. Somehow the intimate nature of the darkness and you being close by often prompts your young children to talk about things that wouldn’t normally come up. Keep doing this as your child grows older, and they will keep talking to you — you will not loose their hearts.

*Work at keeping the hearts of our children: Proverbs 23:26 — “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Be gentle with your children, like a nursing mother taking care of her children, (1Thessalonians 2:7). Be careful not to loose your children with rash words that are like sword thrusts but use your tongue wisely to bring healing to them, (Proverbs 12:18). Things to watch out for: unjust criticism; not listening; teasing excessively; insulting them; speaking harshly; not being available / approachable; being glued to TV / video /DVD / newspaper / computer, etc; expressing hatred.

*As mothers, we need to be building our homes up, not tearing them down: — Proverbs 14:1.

*As fathers, we need to have a vision for our family and a vision for each member of the family … and we need to communicate it effectively and reinforce it often: There is so much to say on these last two that I think Craig and I each need to write an article on them — so more on this later.

*Insulate your children within: See link 6 below.

*Youth groups, etc: These groups are a great place for the cauldrons of foolishness to overflow as they are generally far less well-supervised than you would accept if it was in your home. Since they are often “evangelistic” in orientation, bringing in unbelievers who are also unchurched, and since not all church youth are regenerate, the unbelievers can easily outnumber the believers. And even when they don’t, many studies show that it is the unbelievers that are more effectively evangelising the believers away from the Faith in such peer-oriented environments. Yes, they might be OK for a while, and some children can handle it better than others. But the risks are many that they’ll develop a taste for the worldly ways of those unregenerate, who are treated with such deference and friendliness by the youth leaders and who are often secretly admired by all for their spontaneous fearlessness in performing so many outrageous high jinx to liven up the youth group activities. By the time you find out that your child is the one who can’t handle it, your work is cut out for you to win your child back. As already mentioned, we like to do things as a family — together we need to provide exciting, challenging, edifying, purposeful alternatives to youth groups, alternatives that build healthy relationships and reinforce — not subvert — your family’s values.

*Be diligent: teaching your children as in Deuteronomy 6:1-9 all the time so that when they are older, they will keep your commandments and teachings all the time as in Proverbs 6:20-22.

*You may need to apologize and radically adjust your home education programme, job or location: Be quick to apologise to your children if you decide you need to change course and suddenly forbid or curtail things you used to allow without a thought. Make whatever drastic changes are needed to keep your children’s hearts. We know of families who have moved town to break up unhelpful relationships their children had formed. Change your job if it keeps you from investing the time you want to with your children. Some children are frustrated by the home education materials they are using: you may need to consider changing that too.

*Don’t be afraid to “Do Hard things1 with your children: We know a family who had to kick one of their sons (17-18) out of their home several times. They had set up their family rules. When he broke them and was unrepentant, his Dad felt he had no option but to kick him out of their home, not allowing him back until he repented and apologised. There would usually be sanctions or loss of privileges as well. The process of praying and talking it through while standing outside with Mum or Sister until he was ready to apologise and submit sometimes took hours. This is not something you would do with all your children — but for the odd one sometimes it takes drastic moves like this to keep a son at home and on track.

And sometimes, unfortunately, you have to send that rebellious unrepentant child away. You cannot have a rebellious child living at home influencing the younger children. If the child refuses to repent from his rebellion, won’t give up the cell phone or whatever other requirements you have, then you have to send the child away. This is radical and it is serious. It is similar to excommunication for unrepentant sin. We are talking about sin here — in-your-face, conscious, wilful rebellion — not just immaturity, lack of judgement, or being annoying.

Because we are so emotionally involved with our children and the problems that arise, sometimes it is good to bring in a Biblical counsellor. (But beware: there are a lot who call themselves Biblical counsellors but who are immersed in their State-credentialed arts of psycho-babble, such as the philosophies and theories of Freud, Rogers, Skinner, Pavlov, Maslow, etc. You want to get a Nouthetically trained counsellor, one fully conversant with the J E Adams counselling courses.) Children are usually not rebellious in a vacuum. There will be things on their minds that cause them to think that they are hard done by. Perhaps you have said or done something at an impressionable age in that child’s life and they are holding it against you. None of us is perfect. We have all made mistakes along the way with (or in training) our children. We and our children may need to apologise to each other and to forgive one another, and we then need to put these things behind us. Our children especially need to learn to do this while they are at home, as they will have others saying and doing things that upset them later in life as well. If they learn this lesson, of resolving their problems/sin at home, it will serve them well in later life — in their own family, in their work place, etc. Colossians 1:28 says that every person needs counselling, every person needs wise teaching so that every person comes to maturity in Christ. We are not failures when we seek out counselling in our families. This is very Biblical as we all need counselling at some stage. Counselling — helping each other grow in Christlikeness — is at the core of Christian fellowship.

You are not a failure if you have a rebellious child. Nearly everyone does. All our children sin. All our children rebel — some on the inside where it’s harder to detect and some on the outside, right there in your face. It is how we deal with our children’s sin and rebellion that makes us a failure or a success in training our children in the way that they should go.

Remember, applying verses like Proverbs 29:15 and 22:15 bring results in the training of our children: Proverbs 31:28-29.

This is all very hard work. There is no holiday from being a parent. We only get one shot at it with each child. But it is all worth it — so very worth it. When you see your children grow into Godly young persons and get married and begin to have children of their own, and then they begin training up their children in the way that they should go, it is all so very worth it. Remember, in all your training of your children to think multi-generationally. Always realise that when you are training up your own children, that this will flow over to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. So the key to keeping your children’s hearts is to make sure that no-one or no-thing takes their hearts away from you. And most importantly, turn your heart to your children, and they will then turn their hearts to you (see Malachi 4:6 and Luke 1:17). Then God will no longer smite the land with a curse and the people will be ready and prepared for the Lord.

Note:

1.http://www.therebelution.com/books/

Fantastic Helpful Articles — Must Reads

1. Regaining the Trust of Our Teens: http://www. Foundationsforfreedom.net/Topics/Parenting/Par-enting11_Teens.html. Purpose: Help parents of older children who have not been well disciplined or tenderly loved to take steps in regaining the hearts of their children. A) Regaining Hope for the Family; B) Restoring the Home; C) Resolving Conflict.

2. Changing the Heart of a Rebel by Dr SM Davis: http://hef.org.nz/2008/changing-the-heart-of-a-rebel/

3. Why Satan Wants Your Firstborn by Dr. SM Davis: http://www.evangel.org.au/Perth/Downloads/Download%20Material/firstborn.pdf

4. Home Schooling the Rebel by Deborah Wuehler: http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/How_To_ Homeschool/articles/homeschoolingtherebel.php

5. Help from a Former Hyperactive Kid by Israel Wayne: http://www.crosswalk.com/homeschool/ 11582342/

6. Insulate Your Children Within by Michael Pearl: http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/nc/articles/general-view/archive////insulate-your-children-within/?tx_ttnews[backPID]=162&tx_ttnews[backPid]=85

7. Praying for Our Children: http://www.puritansermons. Com/reformed/pray.htm and http://navigatorsdetroit.com/20 05-11%20Praying%20for%20our%20Children.pdf

8. Training Our Children to Use Technology: http://hef.org.nz/2010/training-our-children-to-use-technology/.  Ky XVI, No. 83, July 2010, p. 28.

From:

Keystone Journal

Vol XV1 No 84  October 2010

To subscribe to Keystone: http://hef.org.nz/about/keystone-magazine-only-1-year-sub/

Training Our Children to Use Technology

Training Our Children to Use Technology

By Craig and Barbara Smith

Technology is in the official NZ MoE curriculum statement. Most of us ignore it completely. Technology comes up automatically in our homes; we don’t have to “teach” it. Our children are far more savvy at it than we are anyway. Cell phones, Internet, Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo and soon something from Google, etc. And who knows what else in the future…

What are parents to do?

After reading Jon Dykstra’s article “Facebook Frenzy” in the January 2010 issue of Keystone, Craig’s instinct was to say, “No” to all technology like cell phones, FB, etc., until the current Young Adult toying with these things leaves home. But what happens when the Young Adult leaves home and then has free access to all of this and no guidance…

Proverbs 22:6 says we are to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It is a promise from God. This training does not happen by itself. It is hard work. We get no holidays from training our children.

Technology is one area of the training of our children that we must not neglect. We must be training our children in the correct use of technology while they are at home with us so that when they depart from our homes, they don’t depart from the training we have given them.

A Word in Relation to Parents

Once again, the training of our children in the use of technology, as with all things else, begins with us, the parents. How are we using the technology in our homes? Does it rule us, are we enamoured with it and addicted to it, or do we have dominion over it? If we don’t have the victory in this area, then we need to get the victory. If we don’t exercise Biblical wisdom in using these tools, then we’d better develop this kind of wisdom. Our children will follow our example more than they will follow what we say. They are more likely to do what we do than what we say.

Today we read in our daily family worship around the table a passage from II Kings 17. Verse 41 stood out to me, especially after listening to Craig read through I and II Kings of the succession of kings from father to son in Judah and from one ratbag to another in Israel. Most of them did evil in the sight of the Lord, and even the “good” kings who did do what was right in the eyes of the Lord did not remove the high places. The consequences: II Kings 17:41 “So these nations feared the Lord, and also served their graven images; their children likewise, and their children’s children — as their fathers did, so they do to this day.”

So what “graven images” are we leaving in the “high places” while we also try to fear the Lord, having a foot in each camp as it were, for all our children to see? Are we turning our hearts toward our children as we seek to train them? (Malachi 4:6 and Luke 1:17)

Technology, because of the new dangers each new development seems to introduce, appears to be one of those things that we, as parents, are going to be working on for an awfully long time. We must be like Paul in Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV): “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” This mind-set has to be in our own lives before we can expect to see it in our children.

The rapid developments, the powerful applications and capabilities of Technology seem to have taken us by surprise. We ourselves have not been trained in wise use of it, and yet we see now that we really do need to train our children in the wise use of it. We need to search the Scriptures because God was not taken by surprise with all this new technology. He has plenty to say. And we need to dialogue with one another seeking to keep each other accountable to God.

Do we have any of these as “graven images” that we serve?

TV: Are you in the habit of watching TV regularly? What do your children see you watching? What do they watch with you? Are you embarrassed at times with what comes on the screen in the programmes and advertising: nudity, swearing, using God’s name in vain, infidelity, etc.? Or do you wait until all the children are in bed to watch TV? Your children will know this, of course, and will conclude that it is alright to watch TV when they are alone.

Movie Theatre/Videos/DVDs: The variety of the genres, the sheer numbers to choose from, the technical quality and special effects are all incredible! It is probably safe to say that these things are watched primarily for entertainment. Somewhere along the line, our daughter Charmagne brought Psalm 101:3 to our attention: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (NIV). “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (KJV). “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (ESV). “I will not set before my eyes anything that is base” (RSV). Now that is a challenge for all of us. So we thought through the meaning of the words vile, wicked, worthless and base. Around about this time we came to the conclusion that it is contrary to our confessions as Christians to sit down to be entertained by gratuitous violence, horror, occultism, immorality, blasphemy, the exultation of evil and the denigration of righteousness. As a result, our family is watching fewer and fewer movies via videos and DVDs.

Computer/Internet: How much time do we waste on the computer? Some of it is good and important, but do we spend time on the computer when we should be spending that time with our children? What sites do we go to? The email discussions, the blogs, the social networks, the buzz, the twitter, etc., are all so much fun, very interesting and sometimes even useful. But do we really need to play another hand of Hearts or get involved again in Mafia Wars or Farmville? Time is also a resource, like the talents given in the parable in Matthew 25:14-30, and the Lord will be asking from us a reckoning of our stewardship. The accounting books we hand over to Him better look good. Yes, He is gracious, merciful, forgiving … and He is also the King of kings and Lord of lords and will not overlook sloth and irresponsibility. He is, oh, so worthy of our very best … and more.

Home schooling Mums come up to me at conferences or ring me up asking for advice. More often than I want to admit, one of the concerns they have is their teenage sons’ addiction to pornography. They ask how they can help get their son off pornography. My first question now is, “Does their father look at pornography?” And usually the answer is yes. We can’t hide our addictions. We must master them. Genesis 4:7 says “Sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (RSV). Porn is death. You must kill it, for it will kill you.

Cell phones: How do we use our cell phones? Are they a tool? Or is it mostly another form of entertainment leading us into sin?

Remember these verses: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil,” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV). We need to be watching how we use Technology ourselves as well as how we train our children in the use of it. Why? Because we will be giving an account of how we use it and how we train our children in the use of it on Judgement Day.

A Word in Relation to Our Children

We live in such a fast-passed world. When it comes to technology, our children know far more than we do. They pick it up so quickly. We as parents have come to understand this too late for some of our children, but this is no excuse. We need to work at training all of our children, youngsters and young adults alike.

First, if we have been a bad example or a bad influence on our children, we need to master our sin and apologise to our children. What’s done is done, but we need to deal with the past by repenting from it, seeking forgiveness and setting new benchmarks. It is probably best to make it clear that we are compelled by our conviction from God’s word to set new standards. A man-centred resolution to turn over a new leaf generally won’t last the distance. As a family, work together on formulating a philosophy and strategy of using technology to glorify God (I Corinthians 10:31), extend His Kingdom everywhere we can (Luke 13:20-21); be that light on a hill (Matthew 5:14), the ambassadors for Christ, the ministers and messengers of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:17-20).

As I said earlier, Craig’s first instinct was to forbid all the technology that would lead our children astray. But we would be failing our children if we did this. We must be training them to use technology wisely to the glory of God.

So how do we do this?

We must work on training and strengthening the inside of our children: see Michael Pearl’s article, “Insulate Your Children Within”  (http://tinyurl.com/l9ay76).

This will look differently in different families. Michael Pearl talks about beginning young, training them gently and then warning them more strongly as they get older. Or perhaps you might like to heavily supervise until you know your child has mastered technology and only uses it as a tool and to glorify God. Or you might like to restrict the use of technology until the last few years that your child is at home and have intense training at that stage. Or you might like to wait until your child is thoroughly regenerate and is consistently living a life given over to glorifying God. There is no right way yet. There is no proven formula as yet. We are still only just becoming aware of the dangerous aspects of technology; we are not keeping up with the rapid advances, and we are only just starting to formulate our counter-measures. But what we do know is that we must begin training our children in the correct use of technology so that they will not be snared by it when they leave home.

Some Practical Ideas that We Now Use:

TV: We don’t watch TV at all. I mean, like, never. Most advertising is inappropriate. Only the religious TV channels even try to glorify God … the rest have nudity, immorality, swearing, blaspheming God, etc. You cannot fast-forward it. One programme drags you into the next. It kills deep and meaningful discussions. It’s even physically unhealthy: you use less calories while watching TV than while sleeping. A family sitting together watching TV is not quality time together. It is just plain irresponsible for parents to let children have a TV in their own bedrooms.

Movies at the Movie Theatre: (This is not new technology, but some comments will fit in here nicely.) We very rarely go to the movies. You cannot fast-forward the movie. If a scene comes on that you should not be watching, it is hard to escape it. You cannot stop it to discuss with your family like you can with a video. You cannot switch it off like you can with a TV. Because it is so very difficult to get up and walk out, the tendency is to sit there and get further defiled.

Videos/DVDs/YouTube, etc: Videos and DVDs are something that we watch as a family, or Craig might watch some war documentaries with our sons, or I might watch something like North and South with the girls. At all times when watching videos or DVDs, we have our finger near the fast-forward button. We fast-forward all intimate scenes. By that I mean we fast-forward all kissing (anything more intimate, we stop the DVD and get rid of it). We even fast-forward the kiss in Fireproof, even though that one kiss in the whole movie was between a real husband and his real wife: the actress was replaced by the actor’s wife for that scene. But, again, watching any sexual intimacy between others is a basic definition of pornography. Even if the sexual intimacy is moral, that is, between a husband and wife, for others to be watching is at the very least what you call voyeurism … it’s just not edifying.

Our children do not watch videos on their own. We do not like to use videos/DVDs as a baby sitter for our children. Children under two should not sit in front of a screen. Let us quote from this reference: http://tinyurl.com/28tsmtc :

But why does television have such a negative effect on children of this age? “We believe that one reason is the fact that it exposes children to flashing lights, scene changes, quick edits and auditory cuts which may be over stimulating to developing brains” says Professor Christakis. “TV also replaces other more important and appropriate activities like playing or interacting with parents.”

We think this applies to videos and DVDs as well.

We love looking at YouTube clips! But a word of warning: you simply don’t know what’s going to pop up. Be very careful about exploring unknown material with the children watching, although this is also a good training exercise. And some of the other clips displayed on the sidebar can fool you … once you click on it, you can find a lot of junk.

A very good activity is to take a DVD and begin watching it. Stop the DVD at various stages and discuss the good and the bad in it. Discuss why it is good and why it is bad. Discuss how it can be improved. Discuss what the outcome would be if different decisions were made, etc.

Computer/internet: Some families use Maxnet or some other such programme as a protection on their computers. This is a great tool if you want your children on the computer doing their studies without having to worry about them going onto the wrong sites. But this is not training our children in the use of the computer or the internet. It is only protecting them while on that particular computer. And parents need to be very much aware that our children sometimes try to out-smart these programmes and try to get to programmes that have been blocked. I remember once at a Science Centre visit, when we were doing something on the computers there, a farming father put in a couple of words related to his farm activities and a pornographic page come up. The Science Centre said that they had all sorts of protections up on their computers because of schools using them all the time. So we can’t be too careful – we must be watching our children using the computer all the time.

Children can so easily be given a disc or MP3 “with really neat stuff on it you’ll like” from a friend. So if your children do have unsupervised use of a computer, make sure that they run such discs and MP3s past you first. The problem with using Maxnet or similar is that we get complacent about using the computer and forget all the horrible sites that are out there. But we must never forget. What happens when our children visit a friend or family member who does not have these protections on their computer or when they leave home? Again it is very unwise for a parent to let a child have a computer in their bedroom. No, let me revise that: it is pure insanity.

Watch for signs that your child might be getting into websites that he/she should not be on. Some things might be:

1. Always wanting to be on the computer

2. Finding all sorts of excuses for being on the computer.

3. When a job/assignment they are doing takes a lot longer than you anticipated.

4. Whenever you come into the room or walk by the computer, the screen is suddenly minimised. Always question what was closed. Check it out. Check the history if the page was deleted. It is always a good idea to check the computer history often.

5. You see a change in their behaviour – more disrespectful, telling everyone else to pull their socks up, etc.

Computer games are usually nothing more than an incredible waste of time and can also become quite addictive. We know: used to have a thing going with Tetris! Other games are quite evil with all kinds of gory graphics, occultism, killing and maiming people for points … again, this kind of thing is insanity for Christians to be involved with.

Networking sites: Facebook, mySpace, Twitter, Bebo etc These can be incredibly dangerous or a wonderful tool. We have rules for our family:

Our Family Facebook Rules:

1. All emails go to Dad’s email address.

2. Parents only have the passwords.

3. Parents are friends with all their children’s friends.

4. Male children only have male friends on Facebook.

5. Female children only have female friends on Facebook.

6. Exception No. 1 to rules 4 & 5: relations can be of both genders.

7. Exception No. 2 to rules 4 & 5: Children can make application to parents for exceptions to this rule.

8. No more than two quarter-hour sessions per day per child.

9. A parent has to be in the same room and able to see the computer screen at all times.

10. Child has to be at least 16 before getting a Facebook account, or else show clear signs of regeneration and trustworthiness. We allow no accounts with MySpace, Bebo, etc., because, first, we hear too many bad reports about those sites; and second, we’ve already got enough to keep track of with Facebook.

11. No games, and I think I am about to add, “no quizzes”.

12. These rules are related to one’s level of maturity and trustworthiness, are open to negotiation based on these two qualities and may vary from individual to individual (although that seems to be extremely difficult to accept when an older child is offered less privileges than a younger one).

When a male asks our daughter Charmagne to be his “friend” on Facebook, she sends him this reply:

Thanks for the friend request. However, the Smith family has some Facebook policies including one I call our “Pursuing Purity Policy” which means the females of our family have only ladies and relatives as Facebook friends. (There are similar rules for the Smith guys, too.) Thanks anyway! Sincerely, Charmagne.

Charmagne says, “Young or old, almost all the men I send this to answer back in a positive manner.” Charmagne is now 23, and she continues to live with this rule because she has taken it as her own.

There are other dangers with Facebook. There are places where your children can be sending messages to people who are not their friends. This took us by surprise with one of our children. At times we have had to forbid the talking with friends in the chat facility at the bottom of facebook and through messages at the top where they can send and receive messages from non- friends.

Also check the security settings for your children and make sure that they are as tight as possible. Ensure that only the minimum number of people can “see” their pages. The whole world can see Facebook pages now, or you can have a default setting so that only “Friends” can view pages. I guess that mySpace and Bebo, etc., are the same. I don’t know too much about them since we don’t use them and don’t allow our children to.

We need to remind our children to give out the least amount of personal information over the web as possible. There are people out there who pose as children and young people to become friends when in fact they are out to cause trouble and not very nice trouble at that. We cannot be naive about the internet, especially when using networking sites. By only being friends with people we know, we overcome that problem. So tell your children that they are not to become friends of friends unless they know them or are highly recommended by that friend. Be sure you read this article: http://hef.org.nz/2010/social-websites-harm-childrens-brains-chilling-warning-to-parents-from-top-neuroscientist/.

Blogs/Website: Because we have a lot more control over these, we let our children have a website/blog at a younger age. Jedediah got a website at 12. He can pull information and photos from our other websites, including his older siblings’ websites, but cannot go to any other websites unless we are sitting right beside him. He only gets to update his website/blog about once a month. There is very little interaction from others on this. Comments are moderated. Same rules apply as Facebook in regard to passwords, emails and friends.

Emails: Our younger children do not have email addresses. They use our email addresses when they want to send or receive an email. I guess it will be different in each family as to when they let their children get an email address. Jeremiah got his when he needed it for work. We set it up so that all the messages he sent and received came through a parent’s email.

Cell phones: This is a biggie. Put off letting your children have a cell phone for as long as possible. Once they get a cell phone, they become so much more independent. Yet we must realise that as parents, we have no idea what they are doing on the cell phone, even though we are still morally responsible before the Lord for much of what they do (the younger they are, the more responsible we are; the older they are, generally the less responsible we become). Again, this is easier if the child is clearly regenerate and showing obvious signs of commitment to Christ in his or her life.

Watch the phones that your children get. Some phones are very basic and only send and receive calls and texts. Others can do all sorts of things. We only have basic phones and got caught out when we realised that a phone a child had could do so much more than our phones. Know the phones your children buy. Again, ask the questions: “Do they really need a phone for that job?” We let a child get a phone because he really needed it for a job. The job didn’t last that long but the phone did. Do they need a phone that can do so much more than a basic phone? Phones now can send and receive emails, take photos and movies, download movies, email photos and movies, surf the internet and so much more.

You remain in control of the technology in your home: When we see behaviour deteriorating in a child, we are now quick to moderate / re-assess / take away certain technologies from that child. Technology is a privilege. Our children have responded well to this. Well, not initially. But they soon realise that this is part of our training of them, and if they misuse the technology for any reason, then there will be consequences. Both Craig and I have workshops on this. I would like to write mine up one day soon: “Christian Parents Preventing and Changing Rebellion in the Child’s Heart.”  Check out this website with some excellent links: http://hef.org.nz/2008/changing-the-heart-of-a-rebel-2/.

Remember that technology can steal your children’s hearts from you. Be very diligent and vigilant to keep your children’s hearts focussed on the Lord, on doing His work and on honouring you.

From:

Keystone Journal

Vol XV1 No 83  July 2010

To subscribe to Keystone: http://hef.org.nz/about/keystone-magazine-only-1-year-sub/

Preparing for an ERO Review

Preparing for an ERO Review

Posted in Keystone Magazine Articles

Preparing for an ERO Review (in an unschooling kind of way)

By Craig and Barbara Smith

 

Eduction Review Officer (ERO)

When the ERO comes, they generally don’t look closely at what you have
written down. Such journals and notes as you may have are mostly
useful as a reminder for you to talk about what you have done. So
remember, if keeping a daily journal and/or extensive notes of what
you do during your day is not your style, if it is a burden to you, if
it is a stress to you, if you feel it is taking time away from the
time you could be spending with your children or your precious spare
time, then don’t do it.
The ERO are just as happy to look at photos of events and things that
you have been doing. So get the camera out on a regular basis and
click away.

Then absolutely forget about the ERO until you hear from them. When
you do hear from them, they will suggest a date something like a month
away. Decide that it is too soon and write telling them that the date
they suggested really isn’t convenient. Then propose two other dates
that are convenient for you and make sure these dates are two or so
months down the track. This gives you plenty of time to prepare for
the review. Once the date is settled, and you are perfectly happy with
the date…..the date selection is ultimately up to you, not up to
them……then start planning for the review. Please note: we are not
trying to get out of having a review; we are scheduling it to our best
advantage. This is only sensible.

Do nothing with the sole aim of pleasing the ERO; this does not
advance your objectives in raising/training/educating your children.
Keep to your convictions. If you are worrying about an upcoming ERO
review, then you may begin, even unconsciously, to do things simply
because you think it would please them, straying away from your unique
programme to one you think they’d like to see. Resist this temptation.
You will be able to speak convincingly about your own programme, but
you will not be able to speak convincingly about a programme you
followed because you thought it was the PC (politically correct) thing
to do.

The time to begin thinking about what you have been doing is once the
ERO contacts you. Then I would get out a huge piece of paper and write
in all the subjects you can think of – way more than the schools do.
As unschoolers, this is the one concession we’ll make to “eduspeak”
(more on this later). Here are the lists from the national curriculum
guidelines:


The seven essential learning areas:
Language & Languages
Technology
Health and Physical Well Being
Mathematics
Social Studies
Science
The Arts

The eight essential skills:
Communication Skills
Problem Solving Skills
Numeracy Skills
Physical Skills
Information Skills
Work and Study Skills
Self-Management and Competitive Skills
Social and Co-operative Skills

Then I would add in a whole bunch of other topics and subjects using
words which make sense to me. For example, what is Social Studies (in
the list above) anyway? I don’t know. So I’ll write down “History”
and “Geography” because they make sense to me, even though they may be
covered in the above subject of Social Studies (though I doubt it):

English
Geography
History
Music
Art
Horticulture
Home Economics (sewing, cooking)
Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Spanish, French etc
Politics
Note Taking
Book Reports
Letter Writing
Essay Writing
Grammar
Drama
Medicine
Debating
Reasoning
Logic
Research
Creative Writing
Handwriting
Spelling
Calligraphy
Worldviews
Psychology
Bible
Critical Thinking
Farming
Industry
Sport
Dancing
Culture
Nature
Memory Work

Apothecary

Kitchen Cosmetology, etc

That is just a quick list I thought up on the spot. With more
imagination I could come up with more and hopefully some even better
topics. You can probably come up with some really good ones.

Then you think through on every encounter you have had and everything
you have done or read in your home education endeavours over the past
year or two (since your last ERO review, or since you started home
educating) and write it down under the appropriate topic. Most things
will go under a number of topics – that is the nature of home
education and especially unschooling. So think of books you have read
to the children; books your children have read; visitors to your home;
homes you have visited and the uniqueness of these encounters; the
things you have talked about and done; the field trips you have been
on, officially and unofficially; the fun things you have done as a
family, with others or on your own. I hope you are getting the picture
here. Just think of everything that has happened and slot it under
several of the above topics.

For example: A trip to the beach goes under: Science, PE, Mathematics
(you stopped for an ice-cream on the way and worked out the cost and
change), The Arts, Health and Physical Well Being, Communication
skills, Self Management (putting on togs, washing off later) and
Competitive skills (foot racing, ball games on beach, best sand
castle) and some others depending on what you did, who you talked to,
etc.

Reading a book about David Livingstone would go under: History,
geography, science, missions, exploration, courage, loyalty, Home
economics, farming, technology, languages, world views, cultures,
medicine, slavery, etc.

Playing the board game “Risk” would go under: geography, maths,
strategy, history, languages, communication, problem solving,
politics, worldviews, etc., and under more things depending on the
discussions you have while playing.

Having a guest around could go under many topics depending on the
guest and what their interests are where they have travelled, etc.

This sheet of paper is a mind map. Have it hanging on a wall with easy
access from the moment you hear of your ERO review, and write in
events under the topics as they come to mind, as they will, at odd
times throughout the day.

Now when the ERO come to visit (and preferably that will be in a hall,
library or some such place and not your home) do not show them this
mind map until the very end. All this preparation will arm you with
lots to talk about with the ERO. But talk to them in unschooling terms
not eduspeak. Why? Because this is the language you, as an unschooler,
are familiar with. Again, resist the temptation to do things because
you think that is what they want to hear and see. Remember the wording
from the Exemption Application says you are not required to follow the
National Curriculum Guidelines, but that they want to hear about “what
you intend to cover” and “your curriculum vision”. The key is that you
have a vision and are able to clearly articulate this to the ERO,
whatever it may be.

Explain to them all the wonderful things your children have been
learning. You don’t have to show them heaps of things. It is not
learning outcomes that they are reviewing but how your children have
been “taught as regularly and as well as in a registered school.” So
be very clear on your philosophy and how to explain it to the ERO. If
necessary write some quotes or phrases that you want to get across to
the ERO on paper to prompt you when talking to the ERO. The review
should mostly consist of you talking with the ERO and not the ERO
talking to your children.

When we had our last review, we prepared a huge mind map in just the
way described above. When the Reviewer arrived for our review (in a
church hall), I straight away told him that Jeremiah at 10 1/2 was not
reading, writing or doing any formal maths. Further, I said I had not
started to do these things when we knew this ERO review was coming up.
Yes, Jeremiah knew how to read; it’s just that he found it such a
laborious task that he wasn’t doing it, nor were we forcing him. He
knew how to draw the letters and string them phonetically into words,
but since that too was nearly impossible for him to do for more than
60 seconds at a stretch, we were not insisting that he do any. And
yes, he was doing arithmetical work in practical ways all the time,
but pencil and paper activities with him were out of the question. We
then talked about our philosophy, our assessment of Jeremiah’s
capabilities and developmental delays and why he wasn’t doing these
things and how we planned to tackle them in the future and what we
were doing to sort of compensate in the meantime….and we passed the
review with flying colours. The Reviewer’s (correct) evaluation of our
situation was that we had the matter in hand and were working with
Jeremiah’s personal and unique characteristics to maximize his
potential. (By the way, today at age 13, Jeremiah is an avid reader of
normal print-sized chapter books, staying up late at nights to finish
off the next chapter! His handwriting is looking better than average,
he is happy to write thank-you letters to relations and remonstrances
to politicians and requests for information to companies, making
expert use of computer spell-checkers and email.)

We are in a pioneering time still in some areas of home education.
Training the MOE and ERO on unschooling is one of these areas. This
may always be a pioneering area because the MOE and ERO officers keep
changing, necessitating that we train up the new batch. Although
awkward, the main time for doing this training is when applying for an
exemption or during a live ERO Review.

Always check to make sure that they find your home educating “as
regular and as well as in a registered school” before they leave. Ask
that before you show your mind map so you can pull it out as extra,
compelling evidence in a form of “eduspeak” the reviewer may be more
personally comfortable with. (Of course, if the review is already
going really well, you may not have to show the mind map at all.) This
mind map and the preparation it represents plus all your other
preparation for the Review should ensure it goes really well. 95% of
reviews are really positive experiences for all concerned. Again, the
key is being prepared, knowing what you’re about and explaining and
demonstrating this during a review in such a way that you simply drip
with confidence, competence and enthusiasm.

 

1st edition appeared on RUA in 2005 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/R_U_A/


Reprinted and revised in:
Keystone Magazine
May 2005
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
http://www.hef.org.nz

 

Also:

Preparing for an ERO Review by Craig Smith

http://hef.org.nz/2008/preparing-for-an-ero-review-by-craig-smith/

An Integrated Lifestyle

An Integrated Lifestyle

Posted in Keystone Magazine Articles

An Integrated Lifestyle
by Craig & Barbara Smith

In Part Eight of "Keeping Going When the Going Gets Tough" (Keystone of March 2004) we discussed the need to be building strong interpersonal relationships with our children and spouse. We discussed how it is hard work, very hard work. It doesn't just happen all by itself. We need to be working on it diligently (when we sit in our house, walk by the way, lie down and rise up) with our children. We can have no rest from this. Tom Eldredge in Safely Home(1) says "we should devote enormous amounts of time to them (our children), even to the point of weariness."(2)

So we need to have strong interpersonal relationships with our children, and we also need to look at what, why and how we are teaching them.

Psalm 119:98, "Thy commandment makes me wiser than my enemies for it is ever with me."

Psalm 119:99, "I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation."

Psalm 119:100, "I understand more than the aged, for I keep thy precepts."

When we teach the commandments, statutes and ordinances diligently to our children, then they will be wiser than their enemies, then they will have more understanding than their teachers. When our children apply and keep the precepts, then they will understand more than the aged. In Deuteronomy 6, God is commanding us to teach His commandments, statutes and ordinances diligently to our children, and we should talk of them when we sit in our house and when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise. To our ears that means all the time. If we do this with our children all the time, with our whole hearts, then when they are older and on their own, we believe they will do likewise. Look at Proverbs 6:20-22. "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. Bind them upon your heart always; tie them about your neck. When you walk they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you." If we spend 5-10 minutes each day teaching our children the commandments, statutes and ordinances, then when they are older and look back on their father's commandments to them and their mother's teaching, that is how much time they will invest in the commandments, statutes and ordinances: 5-10 minutes each day. But if we command and teach our children diligently when we sit in our house, walk by the way, lie down and when we rise up, then when our children are grown and look back on their father's commandments to them and their mother's teaching, they will likewise teach them diligently to their own children. Remember Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." We are required to train our children in a very definite manner as opposed to the other child-rearing strategy of just letting them grow up in spite of us. Training requires hard work. Those in bodily training pommel their bodies. We need to train our children in the commandments of  God. There is no rest from it. It is a 24-hour-a-day job, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Psalm 1 also talks this way. The man of God who does not seek counsel from the wicked or stand with the sinners but whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night....In all that he does, he prospers." Teach diligently....meditate day and night. This is all hard work. But the blessings of obedience are repeated: "In all that he does, he prospers."

You say this is just going to add to your stress, not take away from it. "Am I supposed to educate my children as well as spend all my time in building  good relationships, and then spend all day and night in meditation on the Scriptures? How can anyone do that?" You see three huge tasks enumerated here. Looking at it that way is most definitely a recipe for burnout. We want to show you that all three are done at once. Meditating on God's Word is educating your children is building good relationships.

Abraham Joshua Heschel encapsulated this approach to study by saying that the Greeks study in order to understand while the Hebrews study in order to revere. God's Word and ways are ineffable: only by doing them does one understand them.3

This is the great divide between the way virtually all of us have been trained up by our schooling - to see the acquisition of knowledge by schooling as the road to success. As Christians we even apply this to the Bible, thinking that by studying it and knowing what it says we gain spiritual maturity. No. The Hebrew way, the Biblical way to spiritual maturity, is not via studying in order to gain knowledge. It is by studying in order to know how to more perfectly obey, do, practice, follow, perform, behave according to the Scriptural commandments, ordinances and precepts. That is, we study the Bible to learn how to love and revere the Lord. This is to know Him: to love Him, which is to obey Him (I John 5:3). Then, having studied and followed through by doing what we found in our studies, then we will gain knowledge. It is a different type of knowledge: heart knowledge borne of walking the walk, walking in obedience with the Lord we love, as opposed to pure theoretical head knowledge. This head knowledge approach is how we were all taught at school. It is the Greek method. It is the kind of knowledge that puffs up rather than builds up (I Corinthians 8:1). Knowing the Lord by loving Him in obedience is what builds up and gives us true knowledge of Him.

We could put it another way: The Jewish Talmud tells a story of an elderly rabbi's counsel to his young nephew. The boy already knew the Torah, the Old Testament Law. Now he wanted to study the wisdom of the Greeks. The rabbi recalled God's words in Joshua 1:8: "You shall mediate on it [Biblical Law] day and night." "Go, then," said the rabbi. "Find a time that is neither day nor night, and learn then Greek wisdom."(3)

Let's invest our time, our days and nights, studying....and doing!.... the really important things, the things that God tells us to teach our children. That is, teach them to live a life of obedience in all areas by ourselves living a life of obedience in all areas and ensuring our children are involved with us in all our activities. This contrasts to our normal method of lectures supplemented with workbooks and texts as we strive to see our children acquire superior Biblical and secular knowledge. We can still acquire this superior knowledge, in fact we must, but we can do it in the context of doing things and being involved in planning and executing activities, rather than in the context of lectures and discussion for the sake of gaining the knowledge. In the classroom or lecture model of instruction, there is no immediate use for the knowledge just gained, except perhaps for the purposes of sitting an exam. And then, of course, that body of knowledge is quickly forgotten. But as we plan and do things in obedience to the many things the Scriptures commend to us, we can gain knowledge in the doing, a more practical sort of knowledge. We can also make use of the lecture/classroom model, but with the added dimension that we are learning this for the specific objective of putting it into immediate use.

No, this is not neglecting our academics. John D. Beckett explains in his book Loving Monday, "A Biblical worldview has [great] implications for those of us in the secular, Greek-thinking West. As we allow it, the Bible speaks to us concerning government, economics, education, science, art, communications and business. Really, it speaks to all of life."3 Have a look at the very first words God Himself spoke to Adam and Eve at their creation, Genesis 1:28: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." What sort of academics will we need to fulfill this one commandment? Animal husbandry, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, mining, metallurgy, engineering, mathematics, statistics, soil sciences, meteorology, horticulture, agriculture, genetics, etc., etc. Combining the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 with the call to bear both the message and ministry of reconciliation as Christ's ambassadors in II Corinthians 5:17-20, we find we will also need to master, in order to obey these verses, communications in all its forms (written, spoken, non-verbal body language, electronic), art, history, languages, cultural studies, inter-personal relationships, music, poetry, education., etc., etc.

Meditating on God's Word is educating your children is building good relationships.  The objective of meditation and study is to obey more properly and consistently what we find in God's Word. To obey in this way we will need to master the academic disciplines. Now, it is clear that no one person can master all of these academic disciplines listed in the previous paragraph. Here is where each person, as he matures, senses God's personal calling to him to specialise in one area of work in His Garden or another. That is, Johnny does not become a carpenter because he likes to work in wood, although if his calling from God is carpentry, he will most probably like it. But Johnny's work as a carpenter is to glorify God by bringing every thought and every effort and every product of that occupation into captivity to Christ, acknowledging Him as Lord over all. His service in this industry provides others with things they need to advance God's kingdom in their particular spheres of specialty and influence.

Home educating mums have a far more direct line in building God's kingdom on earth than does Johnny the carpenter. They are training up disciples for Jesus Christ from the time they are conceived until the day they leave home, launching them into a world that could be transformed, as history has shown us, by the committed and focused efforts of any one of them, an Augustine, a Whitfield, a Wesley, a Carey, a Wilberforce. That is, such mums can and should be wielding undisputed authority, under God and under their husbands, over the lives of their children for 16, 18, 20 years. There is simply no other position of such immense power and influence under the sun. The imprint that a God-fearing mother's handiwork can have on the mind, heart, soul and character of a number of children she might rear, an imprint that is felt and passed on to one or two further generations, numbering dozens of people, is immeasurable and second only to the impact of our Triune God's own sovereign work of accomplishing His will on this earth in the affairs of men. We have mostly lost sight of this unbelievably powerful position of mother hood. Why else would any woman willingly trade it for as little as $7.50 an hour?

Meditating on God's Word is educating your children is building good relationships.  The key to these good relationships is that this task is so immense, so comprehensive, so far-reaching that all involved recognise it is far bigger than any of them can handle as an individual. They are working on this task together as a family unit. Team work, between husband and wife, between mum/dad and the children, among the siblings, is essential for making any progress in fulfilling this task. This task becomes an integral part of, not additional to, the family's raison d'etre, its reason for existing as a family unit, with each member holding a vital portfolio in the running of the family corporation. (This language may sound strange, for few of us have thought in these terms. We are instead used to thinking of our children as the little people we raise as our contribution to society, and once they're off our hands, we can get back to enjoying the good life.) In this Hebrew approach, each family member recognises how much each needs the other: the children see the vital nature of their contribution, even if it is only making the beds and washing the dishes, for it allows mum and dad more time to devote to the big task of winning the world for Jesus Christ and for adorning the Gospel with their good works of excellence and gracious attitudes and unstinting hospitality and edifying conversation.

You can see how radically different this hands-on, relational, interactive Hebrew approach is to the theoretical, intellectual, individualistic Greek approach to doing things that we all grew up with. The Hebrew approach creates and values families and closely connected communities. The Greek approach values and creates the lone ranger, the "autonomous individual" which the state school system is actively promoting and which the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is always talking about.

Yes, the family is the powerhouse of evangelism, education, discipleship training and Gospel effort, especially within a Biblical church fellowship and under mature church leadership. We may well feel some pressure from our local churches to get more involved in church activities, but we home educators need to help the church see that we are in fact fully engaged in doing church work. As the home education movement matures beyond the pioneering stage, the institutional churches will, Lord willing, recognise this more readily than at present and begin to encourage us more directly. More on this in a future article.

Tom Eldredge in his book, Safely Home says,

The sad truth is that rather than building a distinctively biblical approach to life, education, and work, the Christian community has been absorbed into the culture, such that the priorities of many of our local churches and church leaders are often at war with the Christian family.

The way of life God designed for His people supports itself in every way. There is no conflict within God's design. Each of God's institutions was designed in such a way that it does not diminish the importance of the family. God even set aside one day a week for the Israelites to spend together as a family: the Sabbath.

From sundown on the last workday in the week, until the same time Sabbath evening, God's people were to go home and rest (Exodus 16:29), reflect on the goodness of God over the past week and worship Him. It was a prime teaching opportunity for the father. It also served as a weekly reminder that life was not based on survival of the fittest but on relationship and faith. The Sabbath said, trust in God to provide, look how He is providing! Jesus taught that this special day was not to be observed as a mere legalistic requirement. The Sabbath was made for man's mental, physical and spiritual refreshment (Mark 2:27, Isaiah 58:13-14). It was to be a day of sharing and hospitality (Exodus 20:10). It also served as a time for teaching, a  time spent in every home preserving the spiritual heritage of the family.


God has established the pattern and time sequence in creation for the education of children. The first six years of life present an opportunity that cannot be postponed. At no other time in the child's life is it as easy for the child to learn language. In fact, the child will never learn another language as well as the language he learns during those years. It is also a time when the child can absorb facts phenomenally. The Hebrew mother, in a loving and joyful way, cultivated a thirst and love for learning in her children and created the opportunities and moments in which to give them the treasure of knowledge.

The Hebrew mothers were diligent and creative in the way they taught their children. Hebrew mothers know if they were not diligent in their training of their children, they as mothers would be brought to shame (Proverbs 29:15; 22:15). The Scriptures teach that when a woman serves her family well, her children and husband will arise up and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:28). Hebrew mothers knew the importance of wisdom, language and the Word of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

The Hebrew father had three responsibilities: to instruct his son in the law, to bring him into wedlock and to teach him a handcraft. By the time a son reached age thirteen, he was held responsible to know the law and to keep it. Since the father was responsible for this part of his son's training, it is evident that the father's involvement started early in the life on his son. In fact, the Hebrew fathers began teaching their sons the law as soon as they were able to speak, enabling the son to develop a manly spirit.

The Hebrew mothers did not wait for learning readiness in their children: they developed it. Much if not most of Hebrew training was oral (Proverbs 1:8). Even before a child can read, he absorbs tremendous amounts of information and grows in knowledge and understanding as he listens to his parents. Parents can help children to learn by speaking clearly and repetitiously so that children will hear what they must hear.

Mothers need to relearn how to make the maximum use of their homes as worship centres, hospitality centres and education and craft centres. Some of these craft centres will no doubt become platforms for the development of home industries. Often home industries are the first steps towards deliverance from the many forms of bondage in which today's families find themselves.

Home education is not an end in and of itself. It is a God-ordained means to a biblical end: The training of the child after the image of the God who made him; the building of the family; and the promotion of a multi-generational legacy of faithfulness.(1)

Notes:
1. Safely Home by Tom Eldredge.
2. Emphasis added
3. Heart of Wisdom website: http://homeschoolunitstudies.com/TG/Philosophy/11Biblicalvsgreek.htm

From Keystone Magazine
May 2004 , Vol. IX No. 3
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: barbara@hef.org.nz
New Zealand and Australian contact: http://www.hef.org.nz
USA Contact: http://www.preschoolersandpeace.com/wst_page5.html
UK contact: http://www.halfmoonbooks.net/keystonea.htm