Rule #16: Frequency is more important than magnitude. Train up your child.

First a note on my project of building a habit of working out and finding alternatives to Prilosec for my stomach issues. In the future I'll just call this my 10K goals. Short for 10 thousand steps. Like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory I had my bathroom schedule run like a German train schedule. It was a well established routine. But this experimentation with nutritional supplements, specifically Juice Plus at the moment, has completely altered that schedule. I'm also while not prioritizing the activity trying to drink more water (dehydration being a leading cause of stomach issues). So between the increased fluids and roughage provided by the supplements I've experienced a gambit of pains, discomforts and unpredictable bathroom habits. Gross I know but this blog is supposed to supplement the process of the 10k goals so I got to say something. I'm thinking my body just need to adapt so I will take no action today.

Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it [Prov 22:6].

Rule #16 is very potent. Kind of like Rule #5. So a brief summary of the various concepts it includes

  1. Tortoise and the Hare
  2. Train up a child in the way he should go
  3. Time and Attention produce results
  4. Event vs. Process
  5. Salvation is a lifestyle not a line to cross.

Today is all about part 2.

It's hard to argue with the Bible if you're a Christian. But lets at least address the context of this passage to avoid confusion. It's a proverb. Proverbs are not not necessarily a promise from God nor are they guaranteed to be always true. They are a tidbit of wisdom. This proverb does not promise your child will never rebel. But it does impart a very important principle, the younger the mind the easier it is to teach. Remember that field of long grass from the previous Rule #16 post? To extend the metaphor a bit (never a safe thing to do with metaphors but I think it works here), the older you are the longer that grass is, the longer it takes to make the trail. Young children are basically a dirt field. You can build paths simply by running them while they are growing. What does that have to do with frequency and magnitude? Well it's a cheat code. You teach your child something from the beginning and it will be natural for them to do. This is the reason I started this life code. Before I called it a life code, before I assigned numbers to it I just collected a series of quotes and ideas that I wanted to teach my children and anyone else who would listen. It's become much more than that but it still holds true to it's roots. My life code is what I want to teach my children. I assigned numbers so I could remember them not just in an afternoon but in the moment they apply. "Having trouble with that son? Remember Rule #5: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. How can you improvise in this situation?" My kids are going to despise my rules by the time they are 12, and love them by the time they graduate from collage.

Continuing with the grass field a it doesn't mean repetition is removed, actually quite the opposite. You must repeat for a much longer period. They grow fast and a child must be reminded frequently of life lessons or they will just get lost in the growth. Constant repetition will guarantee that path way in their mind never grows over or deteriorates. And it will go from annoying repetition to 2nd nature to them.

But it's not good enough to teach your children how to be good people. Many failures occur in families because of this misconception. Your success as a parent is not rated by how well your children do. It rated by how well your grandchildren do. You must teach your child to teach their children to teach their children to be good people. No I didn't write that too many times. I mean it. You must teach your children to be teachers who teach teachers. I can't take all the credit for this idea as it came from an old missions leader of mine. But I am adopting it as part of my own life code. Even if my children wander astray from my teachings I expect them to teach their children simply out of habit and have grandchildren as my fruit.

An important note to remember is that the pathways are built for negative things as well. Alcoholics anonymous has the policy that you are always an alcoholic. While theologically I disagree the point they are making is valid. Once you have been an alcoholic you have built a path that is very easy to travel. And with very little effort it can be traveled again. So breaking off an old path usually requires you to build new ones that stem off of it. I heard a story of a former alcoholic that he would go to a church small group every night of the week. Because he knew if he didn't he would be in a bar instead. He built a path in his mind that took him to the bar every night. So to combat that he redirected the path. Yeah he could get into his care and drive to a bar but their is an exit from the path that will take him to a small group instead. As an added bonus he has an accountability. 6 groups of people who are going to be looking for him if he doesn't show up. But he must now remain constantly vigilant not to fall back onto the old path. And this is the part where God comes in. Grace gives you that power to escape the evil road and walk the godly path [1 Cor 10:13]. Grace is the lawn mower that cuts the new path for you to follow. A path that leads to relationship with Jesus and glory to God.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in how to mentor and how to teach a child is encouragement. I remember a single mother telling me how she had to spend hours with her very troubled son helping him calm down from horrible bouts of rage. Then instead of anger or punishment at the outburst, and hours lost, she would praise him for the success at turning his attitude. Over several years I saw this little boy go from a raging animal to a very happy child. She told me after one of these bought that I happened to be present for: "So many parents only pay attention to their children in order to correct them. Their don't realize they are programming their children to misbehave. Children want attention. And if the only attention they receive is correction they will do whatever they can to get that correction." Mentoring follows the same pattern. I heard a teacher on mentoring discuss his first experiences in mentoring some collage students. He would begin the process by setting goals. Then he would follow up with them regularly to see if they were taking steps toward those goals. He learned rather quickly that didn't work. His mentee began avoiding him and calling him "Mr Check-up". How do you mentor someone who avoids you. That that released the real key to mentoring. Encouragement. "You can do it" is the most valuable thing you can say to a person. I did brief mentoring stint after hearing this lesson and I always began with a simple, "how's life". Its the opportunity to share anything no matter how sacrilegious, no matter how embarrassing, then I would follow up with a simple. You can do this. God has given you grace to succeed. It's not too late for you. It's ok that you messed up just get back up, that's what a righteous person does. They fall 7 times and just get back up. Teaching a child in the way they should go means encouraging them, empowering them, and giving them the tools to succeed. I love that line in the movie Inception "I think positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time." [IMDB]

Comments

I had the priveledge to do a talk at a high school here a couple of weeks ago. The topic was incorporating 5 hard things into daily routine. However, the message began with putting adolescence on trial and debunking the myth that teens as hard-wired to be foolish, lazy, immature mini-adults. Then it challenges them to live up to the potential that we just proved they have. It closes by giving them the dare to create 5 practical, achievable goals and do them. So, in essence it's path of thought was:
 
1. You actually can! No really, you have what it takes.
2. Challenge.
3. Practical application.
 
and, it was very well recieved. I've heard follow up about the students taking those principles to heart.
In high ropes, I saw way more success in telling someone that they can achieve, and will achieve, than in using some sort of crappy football coach, "you suck, now go do it" method.
Oh and PS. Girls were way braver and more consistenly successful than guys. Does that correlate to this principle? that they recieve encouragement which pings the emotional side of us easier because they are emotional creatures?
eh. probably not connected, just saying.