When we love our children well, we train them well. And when children are trained well, their self discipline is increased and their need for parental chastisement is decreased.
- Teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.
- Teach children to reverence God.
- Commit to 100% consistency in training and discipline.
- Commend and reward good behavior. (But never bribe.)
- Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed should be commended.
- Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.
- Never chastise in anger.
- Offer complete forgiveness to a repentant child and never bring up past offenses.
- Teach them gratitude by example for the food put before them.
- As children, they are to be in bed by 8pm.
- Teach by example a good attitude of diligence in regard to work and chores.
- Teach them how to be still during Family Bible times and in large group settings.
- Give them nothing they cry or beg for, and only that which they ask for politely.
- To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented.
- Strictly observe all promises.
I'm sure there are more that could be added to this list, but it is a good starting point. Children with special needs may require slight modifications to the "norm" because there are other factors involved in their behavior. Navigating such a child is a delicate road to travel, and one we have travelled personally.
When mental issues are coupled with adolescence, miscommunication and misunderstanding is often increased. And since every family is different and their are wide variables in special needs children, it would be prudent to tread cautiously and seek the Lord to help you raise such a child with special needs.
Before all rules and regulations, fellowship must come first and is really the cornerstone of parenting. Without the tilling of the soil that sweet fellowship brings which binds your hearts together, your efforts in other areas of discipline can fall on hard ground. And when parents are unaware of the land mines that dot the landscape of raising a special needs child, their good but naive intentions can lead to a painful outcome.
In some cases, a child with a mental impairment can be lacking in natural compassion and sometimes places excessive demands on their parents. When you communicate to such a child, it's important to try to be mindful that what you say and what they hear can be completely different things. Their reason and logic centers can also be affected and cause communication trouble as well. It is a rough road and loved ones often don't usually see the struggles parents of these children face on a daily basis. Circumstances like this will often reveal who your true friends are.
Dependence on the Lord for guidance through child raising is important. But dependence on Christ to navigate a special needs child is critical. He can show us where we need to be gentle and where we need to be firm. And then even when you do your utmost best, there's still no guaruntee that all your efforts will produce the result you hope for. What to do? Praise God anyway. He is still in control and he can see much farther than we can. In our weakness He is strong.
When we consider Job, we see he was a man who God said was "perfect" and yet the Lord saw fit to bring upon Job a series of heartwrenching trials. So from his story, we can conclude that God's main interest is not our happiness, but our hearts. When we find ourselves in the midst of a trial which makes no logical sense, we can know, through Job's example, that the Lord is trying our hearts. He is asking us to trust him.
Parenting has to be one of the highest callings there is and one that has brought my heart and my faith walk closer to the Lord Jesus than I ever could have imagined otherwise. I choose to praise him for all that he has done and is doing in my life whether I understand it or not.
May the Lord grant you peace and grace as you parent your children with mercy and Love.