Direct your children onto the right path,
and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Proverbs 22:6, NLT
How often as parents and leaders of children do we hear Proverbs 22:6 quoted? We often frame that Bible verse in a way that focuses on wisdom and discernment, which is good. However, do we ever see that Bible verse in the light of pain? In a culture where our kids are brought up with virtually instant and never-ending gratification, I would hazard to say that they are quite poorly equipped to deal with discomfort. Clear evidence supporting my view is the constant uttering of the indignant phrase, “It’s not fair!”
While I am not implying that we should not have a strong sense of justice, I do believe that we need to impart to our children that we live in a fallen world that is not heaven. Things in life may seem unfair, but the world is not here to meet your every whim. And one of the most fabulous things about Jesus is that He can use every pain, every unfair situation, to create something good, including making us better people.
Few times of year are better for laying this groundwork with our children than the Easter season. Many Christian denominations observe Lent (which I personally find extremely enriching), but even those that don’t have Holy Week and the time around Easter to share with children how Jesus dealt with pain. Many families have become fond of Resurrection Eggs, which contain small objects that remind children of the Easter story. This is an excellent tool for smaller children, those who are at a younger cognitive level or those who need concrete visual examples to retain information.
Above, I have a picture linked to something that has become one of our family’s favorite tools for this time of year. JOURNEY TO THE CROSS: The Complete Easter Story for Young Readers by Helen Haidle contains 40 entries that begin just before Jesus enters Jerusalem and a plot is hatched to kill him. Each of the 40 stories contains a biblically referenced narrative that is written for an audience of 8-12 year old children. Beautifully illustrated, there are separate details before and after each passage of cultural customs and components that help the story come alive for kids. A Bible verse and brief discussion questions end each narrative.
One of the reasons I have come to love sharing this book each year is that it spawns open discussion with my children. Even if they have difficulty with social processing, as is the case in my youngest child, their faith becomes their own the more they talk through these troubles that Jesus is facing. I love getting my kids talking with me! Discussing these disappointments, heartaches, challenges and identifying the godly way of dealing with them is the perfect way for children to be trained to walk life’s path when they have graduated out of our care. And as we all know, life frequently leads down a path right through the heart of pain.
What are your favorite tools of this nature for training children? It would be great for us to share!