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Women Who Win

 

Mothers,Be Mothers!

 

In the first chapter of Proverbs we meet the dynamic personality called mother. She is presented not as a wobbly- footed weakling but as one who passes the law. Even inside the home she does not appear as a second class citizen, rather the queen of a small kingdom constituting the laws! “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother” (v8).

 

Parenting takes a heavy toll of a mother. But there is honour in motherhood and a lined face is the price of respectable children. “Left to himself” a child does not grow up  into  a  cultivated  adult.  He  needs  to be “brought  up”  (1  Tim  5:10).  There  is something godlike in a child as there is also something of the devil in him. It is the mother’s duty to nurture the godly nature and weed out the devilish. She carries the brunt of the responsibilities, the father having gone out after leaving instructions. So it goes without saying that if she neglects her duties she bears the burnt of the shame. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov 29:15). Blame as well as the bouquet go to her.

 

God trusted His own Son Jesus into the hands of human parents for training Him for the tremendous task ahead of Him. He did not automatically become a mother’s dream—wise,  strong and god-fearing, loved by all. If His words were graceful, there was behind Him a mother with “the law of kindness on her tongue” (Prov 31:26). If He was strong, there were loving hands that fed Him and trained Him.

 

“Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men” (Lk 2:51,52).

 

Note also  the word  “increased.”  All the qualities  were there before the age of twelve (Lk 2:40). When He chose to be subject to his parents even as an adolescent He increased in those qualities. This verse clearly tells us that He was trained in that path by His parents. He “learned” obedience (Heb 5:7). There is a special reference to Mary His mother. Let us consider these four areas of a child’s growth.

 

1. Mental Growth

 

“Jesus increased in wisdom.”

 

Wisdom does not necessarily come from books. We know there were men and women 2000 or 3000 years ago, wiser than us, who did not read as much as we or our children read today. “The Jews marvelled saying, How does this man know letters, having never learned?” (Jn 7:15). May be Nazareth had no school at that time, or Jesus  was too poor  to go.  But  He took  the scroll  and  read  the Scriptures  in  the synagogue.  Obviously it  was the tireless  effort  of the parents  that gave  Him  the advantage over His peers.

 

Learning starts from birth. The baby’s brain at birth is called a Tabula Rasa (an empty slate) in which things start getting recorded. Allowing a child to do things helps him learn. Satisfy his curiosity as much as possible. Take him out to explore his uncharted territory. Let him see, hear, observe. As he grows up teach him little by little. Let his general knowledge develop.

 

This generation of children go without childhood. They are at school when they should be catching butterflies. Don’t try to shirk off   your responsibility by sending them to the creche or school or hostel too early. Getting children started earlier on their academic careers and advancing them more rapidly is the craze of the day. Don’t succumb to it.

 

Choose such a school which will develop your child as a wholesome individual. Check whether it has trained teachers who enjoy, understand and can lead children. Don’t send them to tuition while in the primary school. Let them play in the evenings and enjoy their weekends. Sit with them and help them gently in their studies.

 

Use visual aids. While roaming around the house once with my daughter in the rain, I discovered a frog’s egg and was excited. Since she had a lesson on the frog, I put it in a vessel and sent it through her to the science teacher so all the children could see. My daughter came home disappointed that the science teacher was not interested but asked that to be promptly thrown away. My heart ached for those students who may graduate in zoology without seeing a frog’s egg! Don’t expect the school to teach them everything. The school cannot give them the individual and loving attention a child is privileged at home. Pull out a plant and show the root. Bring in a flower or a caterpillar to demonstrate. Break an egg to show the veins and air space.

 

Practical wisdom is imparted by exposing the child to various places and situations. Take him on trips to the market, a slum, parks, exhibition, zoo,etc. On the way let him observe the snake-charmer or a beggar’s dance so he can understand the condition of people. When asked, “Wherefrom  do we get milk?” a child answered,  “From the bottle!” Let not modern advancements insert a yawning chasm between the child and nature. “A foolish son ... is a bitterness to her who bore him” (Prov 17:25).

 

Buy story books and encourage reading habit rather than dumping them in front of the flickering tube. Children  should not be allowed  to watch TV indiscriminately. Choose only the good programmes and that for a limited time only. Encourage them to read the newspaper. If you find your child not that intelligent, relax and accept the fact instead of pushing him hard. Capitalise on his strengths and help him overcome his weaknesses.

 

2. Physical growth

 

“Jesus increased in stature.”

 

It is good for a mother to know the normal milestones of a child. It is not possible to exhaust all information in an article like this. I would suggest to every mother, who is dead earnest in raising her children the proper  way, to read Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care. This book gives exhaustive and excellent guidelines to rear a child upto teenage. Share the points with mothers around you.

 

Myths  about baby food  are simply too many.  Many mothers believe that milk powder is better than breast milk and spend sums they cannot afford on artificial feeds, horlicks, vitamin drops and the like. Let not TV advertisements mesmerise you. Breast milk is best for any baby any day. In fact it is healthier for the mother too. It has antibodies to protect the baby from certain diseases. Let not friends or relatives discourage you.

 

Around the fifth month along with breast-feeds a little orange juice or cow’s milk may be offered in a cup. A cup is better than a bottle to prevent diarrhoea. Gradually after six months new foods may be added, one per week.

 

The father provides, the mother prepares. So she must know the basics of nutrition. “She has slaughtered her meat, she has mixed her wine, she has also furnished her table”  (Prov  9:2).  It  is  the  mother’s  duty to  serve  balanced  and  nutritious  food. Uncooked  fruits  and  vegetables  supply Vitamin  C which  gives  resistance  against diseases. Give him all vegetables, greens, fruits, dal, cereals, grains, egg, meat and fish. Don’t force the child when he wants no more. A child need not be fat. Don’t load them with sweets and oily snacks. These favour obesity, diabates and tooth decay. Germinated pulses, cereals, peanuts and fruits are good for the evening. Teach them not to waste food.

 

Don’t carry the child all the time. Packed into his frame is a furnace of energy. Let him walk with you. There are mothers who never allow the child to play in sand. It is a pity these days to see children shuttled from one tuition to the other, robbing them of time  to  use  their  imagination  and  simply be  kids.  Our  children  need  to be  Tom Sawyers and Huckleberry Fins. Enjoy your child. A mother must work like a dog and play like a puppy. You can always give him a wash after playtime.

 

Let children involve themselves in games and sports. Involve them in household chores. Don’t smother their adventurous spirit. When they want to learn swimming don’t immediately protest, “No, no, you’ll drown.” Go with them and see that they are safe. Life is taking risks.

 

Around the age of eleven a girl must be prepared for puberty. She need not feel awkward about it. Let her look forward to it happily, not feeling scared or resentful. Tell her that the uterus is prepared for the growing of a baby. She can lead a perfectly normal and robust life during menstruation. Boys around the age of twelve need to be told about  the naturalness of erections  and nocturnal  emissions.  Casually mention about wet dreams, so that they’ll be reassured that it is normal and not feel guilty about it.

 

Quacks  abound  everywhere  who  will  give  an  injection  of Terramycin  to  your precious baby just for a cold and cough and bag Rs. 25/-. Go only to reliable doctors. Give  medicines  only if necessary.  Ask  questions  about  the medicine  if  you  have doubts. If he refuses to answer, find a doctor who can calmly talk and explain.

 

3. Spiritual Growth

 

“Jesus increased in favour with God.”

 

There is a modern theory that children should not be taught religion and must be allowed to choose for themselves as they grow up. If lessons need to be taught, then

 

most certainly religion needs to be taught too. Once I asked two Christian children, regular church goers, the age of five and seven, the name of our God. I was surprised they couldn’t answer me. When I encouraged them to think, their faces brightened and one of them said, “Rama.” I was shocked. This was the effect of Sunday morning TV. After a year the elder was saved. How can we simply fold our hands and watch our children go to hell? Christian parents need to be alert to teach children what they believe before the world can teach them what it believes.

 

When children pester you for stories, teach them Bible stories from The Children’s Bible. They can memorise verses. Don’t thrust the entire burden on the Church or the Sunday School.

 

“Teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Dt 4:9). “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you rise up” (Dt 6:7; 11:19). Sure, sounds like an overdoze, but words cannot be clearer. Timothy knew the Holy Scriptures which were able to make him wise to salvation, from childhood (2 Tim 3:15). How? By a grandmother and a mother who believed in oldtime religion. At twelve, Jesus was listening to Bible teachers, asking and answering questions (Lk 2:46,47). How?

 

Have regular family prayer. Let it cater to the needs of the children, simple and short. Let the children actively participate. Gradually the time may be increased and the children must be taught to pray for themselves and others. Teach them to pray before meals. Develop in them the habit of praying and reading the Word of God regularly. Make it interesting by Bible games or a quiz or a test which the whole family can take up. Christianity is like a nail, the harder you hit the deeper it goes. Present your child with a simple Study Bible when he becomes   a Bible lover and is old enough. Teach him to share the love of God with his schoolmates.

 

Regular church attendance   is very important to the impressionable minds. Teach children  right  and  wrong,  and  as  they grow  up,  teach  them  to  choose  the  right themselves.  They do  make  mistakes.  It  is good  at  times  to  allow  them  to  make mistakes, so they can learn from them. Allow them to take responsibility for their actions. Don’t write false leave letters, etc. You should never do what you don’t want your children to do when they grow up. Help them develop a sharp conscience. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6).

 

Teach children moral values and self-control. Allow them to fast with you, if they so desire. They can tithe out of their pocket money. Teach them to trust in God for anything and to believe the Bible from cover to cover. They should know that the Bible is their guide for life and not what their friends or others tell them.

4. Social Growth

 

“Jesus increased in favour with men.”

 

Sooner or later the mother’s  little baby must come in contact with the outside world. The first contacts are relatives. Children must be taken to visit grandparents

 

and other relatives. A meal together now and then or picnics strengthen family bonds which are very necessary in this unsafe world.

 

A child must develop into a lovable personality. Early training is a must for this. He must be taught to use clean and decent language. These are rather learnt from the family. When a family uses foul words and jokes, the child is sure to cut a sorry face elsewhere.

They must learn to treat other human beings with respect, whether young or old, rich or poor. Let them see you getting up and offering you seat to the old or sick. When faced with questions of ethics, help them stand up for themselves. Infuse in them the importance of always acting according to their conscience.

 

Teach them the dignity of labour. Let them see you bend down to pick up a banana peel on the street and throw it in the trash, or lead a blind man by the hand. Encourage them to share what they have and discourage selfishness. Let them save in a piggy bank so they can learn the value of money. Help them face failures boldly.

 

Cleanliness is next to godliness. Let them learn to be dressed clean. A child who leaves the bathroon in a mess will not be a welcome guest in another home. Encourage him to keep his room tidy. Punctuality is another virtue to be taught.

 

It is important for children to learn the value of public property. They must love the country and the people. Healthy hobbies make them constructive. To avoid children becoming destructive, impart ideals to them. A child raised to have ideals will have no lack of opportunity to apply in this materialistic world bulging with frightening problems. Let them dream of becoming a Mother Theresa or Sadhu Sundar Singh. Are we afraid they may become one, from the way some children dream aloud? Today’s children get their dreams from TV, not from mothers who dream Jesus dreams (Mt

27:19). We have been selling wrong dreams to our children—the get-high, get-rich dreams.  Small  wonder  Christendom  is  not  breeding  enough  reformers  for  this putrifying  world.  Instil  in  them  a  can-do  spirit.  Let  our  children  be  ignorant  of casteism. The mark of this beast is on every forehead today.

 

When they wake up in the morning kiss them good morning. Teach them to greet friends and visitors. They are expected to be cordial and polite to everyone. Let them learn to send greetings, condolence and thanks letters. Teach them table manners. Oh, how a mother’s heart delights when her son or daughter is praised by others! “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Prov

29:17).

 

Today the mother’s voice gets drowned  in the din. Many louder and seductive voices compete for her children’s minds and hearts. So she has to shout louder than ever.

 

Children, it’s been said, are the one thing we can leave behind us to tell the world what we were like. In the first chapter of Proverbs the mother starts with her small son and in the last chapter she ends with bidding him goodbye to his new home. What son, and what king today will sit by his mother and listen to such a long counsel on “How to choose your bride?” It was because King Lemuel’s mother was involved in every stage of her son’s growth that she had the command to command a king!

 

“Her children rise up and call her blessed” (31:28). Would you like to see a New Testament parallel? It was told of the mother of Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com

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