It is easy to recognize when a child has had significant interaction with his parents. His eyes are bright and alive with the pleasure of everything happening around him.
He is always “in the way,” not wanting to be left out of anything interesting—and everything is interesting! He is full of meaningful questions and expects an intelligent answer. On the other hand, children who have been raised by cartoons and computer games and are relegated to the out-of-the-way back bedrooms filled with toys and music are dull and unresponsive. They lack interest and generally seem to have a lower IQ than children of interactive parents. The on-his-own child is full of embarrassing, silly nonsense or is seen to have a dull, disinterested stare. It is a sad state seen in most children today. It has been proven that the blue screen alters the brain of children (Read Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity: A Manual for Mamas). We can create in our children amazing brains, but we must to care enough to sacrifice our time and energies to stay engaged.
When a very young child is constantly interacting with his parents, it is readily apparent that his understanding exceeds that of his screen-viewing peers.
We have been in the ministry for over 60 years, and during all that time we have had the opportunity to observe several generations growing up. We have clearly seen that children who have been raised in an atmosphere where they are challenged to use their minds and their voices will more likely grow up to become independent thinkers. Children who have been talked with (not to), intellectually stimulated, challenged to understand, and have things explained to them before they were “old enough” to understand will understand long before their peers. A parent’s goal should be to provoke their children to be wise and creative, to be aggressive in their desire to learn, and to be actively engaged in life.
God has dedicated an entire book of the Bible to this subject. The book of Proverbs teaches us to seek wisdom. HOW do you seek wisdom? You start by gaining knowledge and as your knowledge grows, you understand human nature and motivations, and you come to understand the causes and effects of life choices. As a person sees reality, his respect and appreciation for God grows, as does his fear of walking afoul of the path of righteousness. God says over and over, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Children are not born with knowledge, understanding, or wisdom. Sadly, most folks will go to their graves never coming to a wise state because few people really ever fear God. As parents, our job is to start our children on the path of knowledge and understanding and to teach them the fear of God. God uses his stories that are found in the Old Testament to help us gain this natural respect for the eternal Father.
A child’s first understanding of rules of life comes through interaction with those they love and trust. Children who are blessed with the respect of the adults in their life become so engaged that they often have to be told to wait before sharing their well-respected opinion. They expect you to want to know what is on their mind, just as they want to know what is on yours. If you are sewing, they want to try their hand at it. If you are cooking, they want to smell the food, taste the mix, and stir everything. When you are loading firewood or cleaning out an old sewer pipe, they want to be there right smack in the way, holding something for you so as to feel a part of the project. Knowledge given without interaction (participation) does not result in understanding.
The child who is encouraged to interact socially and in projects will not be a slobbering, screen-headed fool. He will be marked with bubbling self-confidence and self-respect. The set-aside child is the one who becomes self-loathing, knowing for certain that he is pushed away because he is clearly worthless. The lack of understanding causes insecurity. The interactive kid will be confident and grow up to be a shaker and mover of people and events.
Children engaged in meaningful conversation throughout the day grow up to speak so that others listen. And they grow up to listen carefully so as to understand the subtle nuances of what is being said. A good vocabulary doesn’t come from books; it comes more from conversation.
Time spent at the table talking is more important than times tables. God said it like this in Isaiah 28:9–10: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” Here a little and there a little—even while they are nursing. Don’t let ignorance get ahold of their young minds, and don’t let the status quo become their default ambition.
Let’s face it, Mama. We mothers are responsible for the greatest part of our children’s education and development. Become more than their loving babysitter.
It is common for fathers to leave the raising of young children to Mother and not get very involved in their sons’ lives until they are old enough to tag along and participate in their adult work and play, but it is then that Dad discovers his son is a lazy mama’s boy, an insecure, disinterested sissy. Wonder why Dad can’t relate to his son? Mother, engage your son so that when your husband does try to relate, he finds him interesting and challenging. Your son should be snappy and quick-witted, interested in all that is happening, eager to try everything, full of curiosity and a zest for new experiences. If your son is going to be able to ask an intelligent question, he will have to have a genuine interest in what his dad is doing. Your attitude and conversation can generate that interest in your son.
Encourage your children to speak of their ideas, recount their dreams, explain what they mean, and defend their position with logic. We regularly told our children Bible stories and discussed the whys and hows of them. The Bible says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6). Bible knowledge is armor to the wearer thereof. It is wisdom. It is freedom. Read and tell your Bible stories until all your children can recite them back to the family with exciting zeal. You will also discover that it is an excellent way to teach them to speak in public with confidence.
Life is always about interaction. “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Romans 14:7). Give your children the gift of a vision of who and what they can be. You don’t have to be highly educated to accomplish this, just highly motivated. Talk and laugh with your children. Listen to them, ask questions, wait for the answers, respect their opinions, and share your ideas. Don’t be surprised when they soon pass you up in their insatiable quest for knowledge. Praise God when you see it happening. And as they obtain knowledge, teach them to claim the promises of God. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Pray faithfully that God will grant them wisdom to match their acquired knowledge. And then rejoice with that growing number of faithful parents who, when finished with their child-rearing days, will be able to proclaim in God’s presence, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).