DR. DOBSON ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
BY DR. DOBSON
Q. Parents have been commanded in the Bible to “train up a child in the way he should go.” If the first seven years represent the “prime time” for religious training, what should be taught during this period?
A. It is my belief that a child should be exposed to a carefully conceived, systematic program of religious training. Yet we are much too haphazard about this matter. Listed below is a “Checklist for Spiritual Training.” Many of the items require maturity that children lack, and we should not try to make adult Christians out of our immature youngsters, Rather, gently urge them toward these goals. Essentially, the five scriptural concepts that follow should be consciously taught, providing the foundation on which all future doctrine and faith will rest. I encourage every parent to evaluate their child’s understanding of these five areas:
1: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). Is your child learning of the love of God through your love, tenderness, and mercy? Is he learning to talk about the Lord and to include Him in his thoughts and plans, turning to Jesus for help when frightened or anxious or lonely? Is he learning to read the Bible and pray and learning the meaning of faith and trust and the joy of the Christian way of life? Is he learning the beauty of Jesus’ birth and death?
2: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Is your child learning to understand and empathize with the feelings of others and not to be selfish and demanding? Is he learning to share? Is he learning not to gossip or criticize others and to accept himself?
3: “Teach me to do your will; for you are my God” (Psalm 143:10). Is he learning to obey his parents, as preparation for later obedience to God? Is he learning to behave properly in church and learning an appreciation for God’s nature of love and justice? Is he learning the meaning of sin and its consequences?
4: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), Is he learning to be truthful and to keep the Sabbath day holy? Is he learning the insignificance of materialism and the meaning of the Christian family, and the faithfulness to it which God intends? Is he learning to follow the dictates of his own conscience?
5: “But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . self-control” (Galatians 5:22). Is he learning to give a portion of his money to God and learning to control his impulses? Is he learning to work and carry responsibility and learning the vast difference between self-worth and egotistical pride? Is he learning to bow in reverence before the God of the universe?
In summary, a parent’s role during the child’s first seven years is to help prepare them for the future.
These questions and answers are excerpted from the book Dr. Dobson Answers Your Questions, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Dr. Dobson is president of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the home. His daily radio program is heard on more than 1,400 radio facilities in the U.S.and Canada. If you would like a copy of the radio broadcast listing or the monthly Focus on the Family magazine (both are distributed free of charge), write: Focus on the Family. Colorado Springs, CO 80995.
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