Christian Life: How to Educate One’s Child and Be a Happy Parent
By Huiyuan, Malaysia
“Over these past few weeks, your son has listened very carefully in class and is a very sensible boy. He’s like a totally different person to how he used to be. How come he’s suddenly changed so much? How are you educating him at home?” Hearing the teacher say this, I smiled slightly, and my heart was filled with gratitude to God. That my son could change as much as he has is the result of God’s work, and I give thanks to God! I always failed before when trying to educate my son, but then I had the fortune to accept God’s work of the last days and, under the guidance of God’s words, I finally understood how to educate my son, and I became a happy parent.
My Naughty Son Drove Me to My Wits’ End
Over the previous few years, I saw many parents spoil their children, which led to their children becoming more and more unrestrained and reckless. Therefore, after I got married and had children, I said to myself: “There is no way I’m going to spoil my children. I will definitely be strict with them, keep their behavior to acceptable norms, and get them to develop good habits right from the start!” But my eldest son was very naughty, and he had many bad habits. For example, he would often ride on the escalator handrail and slide from the top to the bottom, he would willfully break things in the home, throw rubbish down wherever he wanted, and he was a fussy eater, and so on. To combat these problems, I drew up a plan to educate him: Whenever he was being fussy with his food, I would reprimand him, and then he wouldn’t dare be fussy anymore; if I saw anything in life that I thought would be beneficial to his upbringing, then he had to do what I said. If he didn’t, I had my own way to control him and would let him know what the consequences would be if he was disobedient … I made every effort to educate my son, but there was little change in him. This was all a big headache for me.
One day, I took him to his aunt’s house to play. While I wasn’t looking, my son actually peed on his aunt’s driveway and he also threw his snack packet down outside. My sister said my son was so rude, and she told me to discipline him. Hearing her say this, my face flushed bright red, and I felt a bit angry. This boy, I thought, is outrageous. Every time we go out, he embarrasses me. This won’t do. I must make him lose these bad habits! After we got home, I admonished my son and told him that he must lose his bad habits. Unexpectedly, several hours later, my son once again threw his snack packet down on the floor. Although I was very angry, I kept my cool and told him not to do that. But a little while later, he again threw rubbish down on the floor. Seeing my son ignore me time and time again, I couldn’t restrain my anger any longer, and I thought to myself: If I don’t nip this in the bud now, won’t it just get worse as he gets older? In a fit of anger, I gave him a stern telling off. He then started to cry and said he wouldn’t throw rubbish down anymore. Sure enough, over the next few days I didn’t find any more rubbish on the floor, and I was very happy, thinking that he’d finally changed. Little did I know that, one day as I was cleaning the house, I would find that the floor underneath the sofa was covered in snack packets. I felt angry and helpless, and I thought: To get rid of my son’s bad habits, I’ve tried controlling him, I’ve tried advising him and I’ve tried shouting at him. I’ve done everything I can, and yet he’s still so disobedient. Oh! How on earth am I supposed to teach my child well? For a while, I felt totally powerless.
Not only did my son cause me a lot of worry in our normal lives, but he also made me worry for his studies. One day, his kindergarten teacher said to me that, despite my son being five years old, there were many Chinese characters and basic English letters he couldn’t write, and she asked me how I had chosen his previous kindergartens and how his education had been allowed to slip like this. Just these few words from the teacher made me feel so embarrassed, and I thought to myself: Why is my son so bad at his studies? How can this go on? It looks as though I have to take his education in hand from now on. And so, from then on, every day after school I would give him extra lessons, and I would dictate to him English, Chinese and Malaysian words for him to write. Even on weekends, he had to do as I told him, or else I would tell him off. As time went on, I saw that my son’s behavior was becoming a little unusual: He would no longer look at me when I spoke to him, sometimes he would pretend not to have heard me, and he wouldn’t speak to me very much. Seeing my teaching have this effect on him, I felt very distressed, but I didn’t know what to do about it.
The Words “You’re Not My Mommy” Stabbed at My Heart
One time, I answered a call from my son’s teacher saying that he was not studying very well in class, that he was always playing games and that he was writing nonsense when answering test questions. Hearing this, I became extremely angry. As soon as my son got home, I gave him a scathing telling off: “How many times have I told you to pay attention in class? Why don’t you listen to me? Doesn’t what I say sink in at all?” I never expected my son to react so defiantly to me and, crying, he said, “I want to go to grandma’s house, I don’t want to live here! I don’t want to live with you! I get bullied at school, and you bully me when I get home. You’re not my mommy!”
Seeing my son react this way, I was totally struck dumb. Every word he said was like a sharp knife stabbing deep into my heart, and I felt such heartache. I never would have thought that all the pains I’d taken to educate my son over these years and all the price that I’d paid would be repaid with these words from my son. I held back my tears and said to him, “Mommy loves you. I do this for your own good. How can you say such things?”
He kept crying loudly and he said, “No! You don’t love me!” Having said this, he then ran to his room, leaving me standing alone. Later, I found out that the teacher had misunderstood my son on that occasion. When my son was in class, he was looking for his pencil and eraser, and his teacher thought that he was messing around, and so gave him a telling off. And his classmates had been bullying him because his grades were not so good. After finding this out, I hated myself for not clarifying the situation before getting angry at my son and hurting his feelings as much as I did. But for the sake of keeping my dignity as a mother, I admitted no mistake in front of my son.
From then on, I saw that my eldest son’s attitude toward his younger brother and sister was getting worse and worse. Whenever they did something he didn’t like, he would threaten them, saying, “Don’t you understand what I’m saying to you? If you don’t do what I say, I’ll hit you!” The way he spoke, and his tone of voice was exactly the same as the way I’d been treating him. For a while, I was at a loss and I felt very helpless. Why, I thought, was I taking such pains to educate my son when this was the result? What should I do? How on earth was I supposed to educate my son?
Understanding My Own Issues Led Me to Feel Deeply Indebted to My Son
Later, I saw that my neighbor’s child (my neighbor was a Christian) was so well-behaved, and I thought to myself: Could it be that Christians’ children are all more well-behaved than other children? How does she educate her child? Then I thought that auntie was also a Christian, and her child had used to be naughty, but was now very well-behaved. How had she managed this? I felt very curious about this, and so I got in touch with her and told her about my difficulties. She told me that this was all happening because I hadn’t come before God, because I didn’t understand the truth, and because I was treating my son relying on my hot-bloodedness and corrupt dispositions. If we understand the truth, she said, and learn to act in accordance with the principles of the truth, then we will know how to educate our children. Hearing her say this, I seemed to catch a glimpse of hope. For the sake of educating my son, I became extremely earnest about wanting to understand the truth. Later on, I asked my auntie to take me to her church.
After I had spoken to the brothers and sisters of my troubles educating my son, they read me a relevant passage of God’s words: “Once a man has status, he will often find it difficult to control his mood, and so he will enjoy seizing upon instances to express his dissatisfaction and vent his emotions; he will often flare up into rage for no apparent reason, so as to reveal his ability and let others know that his status and identity are different from those of ordinary people. Of course, corrupt people without any status will also frequently lose control. Their anger is frequently caused by damage to their individual benefits. In order to protect their own status and dignity, corrupt mankind will frequently vent their emotions and reveal their arrogant nature. … In short, man’s anger derives from his corrupt disposition. No matter what its purpose, it is of the flesh and of nature; it has nothing to do with justice or injustice because nothing in man’s nature and substance corresponds to the truth” (“God Himself, the Unique II”).
One of the sisters gave fellowship, saying, “When our children are naughty and they don’t understand things properly, we as parents have to teach them, and that is our responsibility—there is nothing wrong with this at all. But after we have been corrupted by Satan, our nature becomes extremely arrogant and self-conceited, self-important and self-righteous, we always want to make others listen to what we say and are inflated with our own pride, and we even treat our children in this way. We often educate our children from the standpoint of a parent, making them do what we say and act according to our own wishes; when our children don’t obey us, we become irrational and get angry at them, and we force them to do what we say in order to keep our dignity as parents; when our children do something wrong or they fail to live up to our demands, we feel disappointed in them and embarrassed by them, and so we use all kinds of methods to try to control them and to make them live up to our requirements and standards. We educate our children without considering their difficulties from their point of view, without guiding them calmly, without letting them know what is right and what is wrong, but rather blindly forcing our children to live and grow according to our own demands, constraining them, binding them and harming them, and we make our children not only shun us and become averse to us, but we also have a negative effect on them and they learn from us how to lecture others condescendingly. All these things are the consequences brought about by educating our children by relying on our arrogant dispositions! If we are without the truth and we do not speak or act with principle, then we will educate our children by relying on our arrogant dispositions, all the while thinking that we do it out of love for our children and because we mean them well. But the result is that our children and ourselves all end up living in pain. In the last days, God incarnate has come to perform His work of judgment and cleansing. He has expressed millions of words and He has exposed our satanic dispositions and the truth of our corruption by Satan, and He does this in the hope that we will come to know our own satanic dispositions through His words, see clearly the harm our corrupt dispositions cause both others and ourselves, let go of our parental standpoints, no longer live by our arrogant dispositions, treat people according to God’s words and requirements, and live out a normal humanity.”
Through God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I suddenly saw the light. Yes indeed, I had always considered myself to be my son’s parent, and I had believed that however I educated him was all for his benefit, and that it wasn’t wrong even if I forced him to study or demanded that he act according to my wishes or I got angry at him. Only now did I understand that I had been educating my child by relying on my arrogant disposition. I had said it was for his own good but, in reality, I had done it to maintain my dignity as a parent and to maintain my own self-regard. I also saw that I was without the truth, and that by always relying on my corrupt disposition to educate my son, I was only making him grow further and further away from me, so that even when he was wronged at school, he was unwilling to tell me about it. It had gotten to the point where I was having a negative effect on him and had taught him how to lecture his younger brother and sister condescendingly. My method of educating my son had completely failed; not only had it not had any benefit for my son, but it had had the opposite effect. As I thought this, I felt a deep sense of indebtedness to my son, and I no longer wished to treat him relying on my arrogant disposition.
Later, I wrote my eldest son a letter of apology: “My son, mommy is so sorry! I didn’t consider your feelings when I did that before. It’s mommy’s fault and I will change. Do you want to change with mommy?” I never expected my son to reply, saying, “Mommy, I know you don’t want to shout at me. I know you are a good mommy and I love you! I want to change with you.” My son’s reply made me feel so relieved. I never imagined he could understand things so well. I thought of how I’d never had a heart-to-heart with him and had never listened to how he felt in his heart, but instead had always just treated him relying on my arrogant disposition. Thinking this, I felt even more ashamed.
By Bringing My Son Before God, I Gave Him the Best Education
Later, I read a passage from a sermon: “In your home life, if people used to be in charge of your family, then you must remove them from their position. You must dispel all idols, make God’s words the master of your home, and allow Christ to rule. Husband and wife, father and son, mother and daughter—they must all read and commune God’s words together. If there are any problems or disagreements, these can be resolved through prayer, reading the words of God, and communing the truth. Do not do as you used to, listening to someone. People shouldn’t do as other people say, they should magnify Christ, and allow the words of Christ to rule their family, allow the words of God to take charge in their home” (“Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word ‘You Ought to Live for the Truth Since You Believe in God’” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (VI)). True! God’s words are the truth and they are the principles for our actions and conduct. In all things, we should exalt God as the highest and allow His words to hold power. I knew I should bring my son before God and allow him also to exalt God as the highest and, in any issue that cropped up, allow him to conduct himself and act according to God’s words—was this not the best education for my son? Afterward, every evening I would make time to chat with my son and read God’s words to him, telling him that man was made by God, as were all things in heaven and on earth, that it was God who guided us and that we should listen to Him. When he wanted to play and wouldn’t listen to me, I would patiently tell him what behaviors God liked and what behaviors He hated, so that my son would learn to distinguish between them. Sometimes my son would say he’d done something wrong, so I would encourage him to take his time, whilst at the same time leading him to pray and rely on God and ask God for help. Gradually, I saw that my son was smiling more, he became willing to talk to me again, and we became more and more on friendly terms.
One day, his teacher called me to say that he had lost his temper at another child because they wouldn’t give him a sweet and that, after losing his temper, he had hidden under his chair. After he got home, I asked him why he had lost his temper at the other child and hidden under a chair. He said it was because the other child had given everyone in the whole class a sweet except him, and so he had gotten angry. But he knew after getting angry that God did not like that kind of behavior, so he had hidden under his chair and prayed, and had asked God to help him not lose his temper anymore. Hearing him speak, I felt so relieved, and I said to him, “Next time, remember to pray to God before you lose your temper!” My son laughed and said, “I know, mommy!”
Now, my son and I have been believing in God for over six months and, under the guidance of God’s words, I no longer lose my temper with him like I did before. My eldest son has become very sensible too, and I don’t need to supervise him while he does his homework. His grades are also getting better, and he has already gone from Class D at school to Class B. I know that all this has happened because of God’s guidance and it is the result of God’s work! Thinking back over my own experiences, I really appreciate that it was the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words which enabled me to gain some knowledge of my own corrupt dispositions and to have a path of practice, and only then did I understand how to educate my son and become a happy parent. Thanks be to God!