I had my first really mean, negative comment on here recently. The commenter (anonymous of course, aren't they all?) said something about hoping that my kids would develop minds of their own. Even though the comment was just an ignorant, idle insult, it got me thinking about the true definition of an independent mind and how we, as Christian parents, define that for our children.
What does "having a mind of your own" mean, really? Does it mean what it says, having a mind that is only full of your own ideas, ideals, plans, concerns, and ambitions? If you break it down that way, it sounds pretty selfish, doesn't it!
Or, does "having a mind of your own" simply mean being able to think for yourself, above influence? I think this definition is more accurate, and fits our personal goals as Christian parents much better than the first.
As followers of Christ, and as parents, we are solely responsible for the training of our children's minds and hearts. We are raising up the next generation of believers, the next leaders of our nation, the next missionaries, the next pastors. If we give in to "our own minds", we are inherently going against every command that Jesus has given us regarding how we are to live.
"Our own minds" are full of sinful, selfish desires! Not how we want our children to turn out, right? I'm sure you've seen your share of spoiled children, individuals who demand that the world revolve around them, and are horrified if they don't get everything they desire, WHEN they desire it. That, truly, is allowing your child to "have a mind of their own"!
Our goal (my husband's and mine) is to raise independent children who can think for themselves, above worldly influence, and who have keenly trained ears to the Lord's voice. We are working towards this by choosing to do several things.
First, our goal is immediate obedience. If our children can't listen and obey our voices, how can they listen to and obey the voice of the Lord? Obedience is required in ALL areas. And yes, that does include mealtimes, as I addressed in a previous post. We are obeying our heavenly Father to the best of our ability, and model obedience with a cheerful heart for our children.
Secondly, we choose to educate them here in our home. We believe that home education goes way far and above any other type of education in preparing our children for the real world. It allows them to learn how to focus during real life distractions. It allows them to learn the intricacies of relating to people outside their peer group. They are able to watch Mommy and Daddy navigating through bumpy situations regarding home repairs, or money issues, or family problems and how we deal with them. They get one on one time with their teacher, me! The list goes on and on but I'll stop now because this post is not about why we homeschool!!
Thirdly, we model for them daily prayer, Bible reading, serving others (with a good attitude!!), and other life skills that they will need when they are adults.
Fourthly, we don't help them. Yep! Not a typo. Parents who do EVERYTHING for their children are not being kind. Where will your sweet darling be when she walks out the door to college and Mommy is not there with a plate of hot eggs in the morning, or to put her freshly washed clothes away in the drawer for her? Hungry and dirty, that's where! We teach our kids life skills so they can ultimately be independent, but learn how before they step out into the wide world by themselves. After giving them the tools, we encourage them to solve quarrels between themselves on their own, or cook something on their own, or clean the bathroom by themselves, etc.
These are just a few examples of how our family is raising up independent, well-equipped children, who cling to Jesus and follow His word.
It is very prideful to say that you have only your own thoughts and ideas and follow no one's input but your own. Like it or not, the truth is that everyone will be influenced by someone, or something sooner or later in their lives. Home schooled or not. The choice is ours, then, as parents, to choose who we want to be the powerful influence in our children's lives. Who will direct their minds and hearts? A stranger? Their peers? Cartoon Newtork? Or us?
We know that we are human, and aside from the Lord's redemption and grace, are fallen sinners. If left to their own devices, children's minds will belong to the world, and the prince of darkness. Because, in reality, our minds have never been our own, and never will be! So, we choose to raise children with the mind and heart of Christ, who can think for themselves, above influence and follow the voice of Jesus.
I urge you, Christian parents, be vigilant! Seek daily to turn your children's hearts and minds towards yourself and thus towards Jesus! Be obedient and seek obedience from those precious souls entrusted to you for this short time on earth. Their minds are a battleground and the Prince of Peace must prevail.