The Principle Goal
As a parent, one fundamental decision to make with our children is the decision about principle. We don’t often talk any more about principles, but the fact is we serve principles and instill principles in our children whether we realize it or not. When we choose something for our children solely for our convenience, we are teaching the principle of selfish adulthood: mom’s convenience/interests outweigh child’s need/wants. When we emphasize behavior only, we are teaching the principle that outward appearances are the most important factor.
What we might not think about at the moment is the longterm effects of following these type principles. An argument about a daughter’s clothing that only addresses the hemline misses the point which is inculcating a modest heart. When the behavior is all that is discussed, the principle of modesty is not served. Yet most of us would agree that modesty is a Biblical principle when raising Godly people.
This requires a willingness from mom & dad to dig down past behavior modification and see their children’s hearts, which requires - you guessed it: time, time, and more time. To know your 2-year-old’s heart, you have to sit and read that favorite storybook over and over and over and over....... to understand your young child you probably have to sit and play that game until you become sleepy; you have to resist the urge to plug them in and unplug yourself as well. The reward of a few short years of this investment is the intimate knowledge of your child as they grow and mature, as well as a capturing of their deep affections. This is the principle of unconditional love at work.
That is the deepest & highest principle of all. Once you invest in this, behavior becomes easier and easier for your family, and it doesn’t stop there. Other principles come more easily. The principle of modesty is seen as growing out of mom’s unconditional and unquestionable love for her children and desire for all things good for them, and her children can receive that more easily. The principle of using one’s time wisely is much deeper than an argument over video games or social media. Things can be discussed with much less conflict when principles are being served in mom & dad that ring true in their children. Laziness and disconnectedness don’t easily become stumbling blocks to family goals.
One other component of course is that parents must serve the principles they teach. Because parents always teach the principles they serve. As a mom or dad, think about the principles behind your behavior. I guarantee your children do!