Guiding Your Child’s Development (The Missing Dimension in Parenting, Part 7)
In this series on godly parenting, we conclude that part devoted to preteen training and development.

During the elementary years of childhood, you will observe the rapid growth of your child. This will be most evident as you seem to be constantly replacing those shoes that his or her feet continually grow out of. These are the “hand me down” years, when the clothes are bought for the eldest son or daughter to then be passed on to the younger. These are also years of rapid growth in the building of your child’s knowledge bank. This is when hobbies and special interests start to reveal innate talent and specific orientations of direction, which may well form the basis of a chosen career upon arrival in adulthood. Thus, wise direction and guidance is called for as this rapid growth is taking place. Here are some guiding principles.

Physical Development

Your child should have learned basic hand-to-eye coordination and refined motor skills by the time he or she enters elementary school. Now is the time to capitalize on these basic acquired skills and refine them as the child matures.

Childhood is a time of play, but that play must be constructive. Every game is developing the child’s character, polishing his mettle physically and mentally. Choose children’s toys wisely. Ensure that they are constructive and that they contribute to some aspect of the child’s development. Pushing buttons, controlling a joystick and staring hours on end at a video screen while your child plays some inane electronic game will fritter away his time and, if continued, yield an unattractive, physically weak physique in its wake, not to mention a weak mind! Challenge your child’s mental, physical and social development with toys and games that will build a strong body and a strong mind! Although climate plays some part in this, healthy, outdoor exercise should be paramount! Skills with bat and ball, developing physical coordination through the multiplicity of avenues available in today’s society, from bicycle riding to rollerblading, should be high on the list—and these are activities that any healthy parent can enjoy with their children, in addition to the children having that necessary time to play with their peers.

And while on the subject of peers—you, as parent, choose with whom your child interacts. Make your home the venue. That’s where you can readily observe, control and supervise the play environment.

Mental Development

Develop your child’s mind (Proverbs 21:5). By the time your child reaches elementary school, he or she should know the letters of the alphabet, be able to count and be able to communicate verbally, with confidence, with both adults and peers. Much of this will have been gained through constructive playing and reading sessions, which the wise parent would have made available to the infant during his first six years.

Childhood is a time of mental stimulation. A time when color, action, building, transferring thought and observation to paper by learning to draw and paint is all taken up with enthusiasm by the average child. Teach your child to use his or her mind—to think, to think constructively, to assemble facts and make logical deductions.

Over all this, and underpinning it, teach him or her the importance of revelation (Proverbs 16:3). Show them there are two ways of learning: human learning via the five senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, and divine revelation—knowledge revealed on the spiritual plane (John 16:13). Stimulate your child to be alert—to employ all senses in every given circumstance. Stimulate observation by pointing out detail in surroundings, in the pictures and images that they observe.

Teach them to appreciate quality music. Teach them beauty in form, design and symmetry. Maximize their opportunity for a well-rounded education. Show them all legitimate choices that God gives them within the bounds of His law. Teach them of the blessings that flow from harmonizing with that law. Teach them the consequences of sin—explain why God curses and why He blesses. Contrast, vividly, the way of life with the way of death. Diligently teach them to devote the marvelous instrument of their God-given mind to make right choices and thus reap the blessings of God. Teach them so they will never forget! (Deuteronomy 11:19).

Teach Work

Years ago, I used to tour country schools in southeastern Australia, promoting careers for Australia’s biggest steel company. In the process of these vocational tours, secondary school students were encouraged to apply for scholarships and work opportunities with that company. The successful applicants were accepted as company trainees, attending college while training in a profession with this company.

I noticed one thing very evident among the groups of trainees we accepted each year. The real workers were the country kids! The city slickers were often hopeless when it came to a work ethic. Why was this? Simple. The country kids, from an early age, were given chores to do on the farm. Ten- and 12-year-old boys drove tractors; boys and girls alike rounded up cattle and sheep with Dad and Mom on farms, often so huge they were measured in square miles rather than acres. They milked the cows at dawn, fed the chickens, and fed and groomed the horses before heading off to school. These children learned how to work; they developed a sense of responsibility and dependability at an early age.

The lesson here? Give your children structured chores to do at home as soon as they can toddle! Teach them to pick up after themselves. Teach them that everything has its place. Teach them to be clean and tidy! Start with simple instructions—maybe it’s just helping Mom fold the clothes when she’s ironing, then helping her put them away. The dishwasher may well have done away with that family gathering at the sink after the evening meal where each was assigned a dish mop or tea towel. But other chores can be readily found. Teach boys masculine chores and girls feminine chores. Teach them to share chores and to help each other where this is appropriate. In all this, teach them to enjoy work. God designed the human being to work (Proverbs 10:4; 12:24, 27)—to set goals, to plan to fulfill those goals, to achieve success!

Teach your elementary school-age child the seven laws of success and how to really live them. Do this, and you will build a platform for success from which the children will leap through youth into vibrant adulthood, determined to fulfill their incredible human potential!

Observe Aptitude

As you observe your child’s growth and development, watch for special aptitude and talent. Does your child draw well? Then give extra opportunity for that talent to be developed. Does your child reveal a liking and talent for music? The earlier you start, the sooner that talent will blossom. Offer such a child the opportunity for teaching in the field of apparent aptitude.

But a word of warning. Don’t drive your child out of selfishness to achieve observable status and success for yourself, vicariously, through him or her. The development of aptitude and talent should not be onerous. It should be enjoyable—and do not let it stunt or warp the child’s character, personality or education in other fields. Remember, you are working to develop your child into a well-rounded, balanced, happy, achievement-oriented individual—a future God-king! (Proverbs 22:29).

Develop Character

Above all, work with your child to develop godly character. Honesty, integrity, dependability, loyalty, fidelity, trustworthiness—this sounds like a grab-bag of old-fashioned clichés. Yet even in the human sense, these were the virtues that were paramount in the character of past leaders in Britain and America when the whole world looked to them for leadership. Recent events confirm that those days are rapidly disappearing in these once-great nations. But they are being revived at a higher level within the one and only institution on Earth that is a fountainhead of revealed knowledge—the inner court of God’s temple.This is where true character is taught.

As Jesus Christ revives His college, as the buildings are erected on the beautiful plot of land God has reserved specifically for this purpose, catch the vision and relay it to your child. This is where the Father is training His children in His ways, the ways of His divine character. This is where the true knowledge that will rebuild and revive the whole Earth will be taught. The surest way to build true godly character in your children is to teach them that vision.

In all that you do as a family, reflect that vision. Teach your child the reason why you are parenting him or her; teach your children why God gave them to you! Build that godly vision of their future inheritance of this Earth into their minds. Take them out at night and gaze with them at the moon and stars. Show them the glorious future that the universe holds! Teach them to build the character of God!

As a parent in God’s Church of the firstfruits, you are among the most privileged parents on Earth! You are of the few, the remnant (Romans 11:5), who have available to you the precious revealed knowledge of how to rear a child to dwell in the inner court of God’s spiritual temple—right at the center, the beating heart, of the God Family! No parent on Earth, since the creation of Adam and Eve, has had such precious knowledge held out to them!

When God restored all things to the Church through the latter-day Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong (Matthew 17:10-11), He gave to the Church the knowledge of how to teach our children and our children’s children (Malachi 4:5-6). Too few used it! The few who did have received the very richest of blessings. That knowledge is being taught again from God’s earthly headquarters through the pen of that prophet, and those who support him in this revival of all things restored through the Elijah. And this time, the vision within which that knowledge is being taught is far greater and more detailed than in Mr. Armstrong’s time.

Are you, as a parent in the inner court of God’s temple, heeding and, in faith, applying this priceless knowledge? The fruits will show—they will be revealed in the general conduct and demeanor of your child! They will show the degree to which you are or aren’t heeding and applying this revived knowledge!

To Whom Much Is Given …

Remember what Jesus Christ said: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).

No generation on the face of the Earth has been given as much revealed knowledge as has the Philadelphia Church of God.

Under Mr. Armstrong’s administration of the Philadelphia era of God’s Church, a book was produced and distributed titled The Plain Truth About Child Rearing. In its time it was the best, the very best book of instruction available as a handbook to teach parents how to raise their children in accordance with God’s laws, statutes and judgments. Yet when this book was originally written, it lacked one vital element. It was written before God revealed to Mr. Armstrong the wonderful truth about the spirit in man. This does not mean that the booklet is in error. It’s just that an added dimension came later to Mr. Armstrong’s understanding about the nature of that with which we are working in parenting. This added dimension of the spirit in man was incorporated into that wonderful textbook on marriage and family, The Missing Dimension in Sex, and later more fully expounded in Mr. Armstrong’s books The Incredible Human Potential and Mystery of the Ages. All these books should be read, studied and fully digested to give us the grounding for our task as parents in raising our children.

However, since the death of Mr. Armstrong, a further dimension has been added to our understanding of God’s plan—that of a gloriously magnified understanding of end-time prophecy! Since the split in the Church 11 years ago, there has been a deepening and a refining of our understanding of God’s visionary plan for mankind! Unless we are deeply imbibing this magnificent visionary knowledge into our very minds, motives and character, we will be missing something most vital in seeking to maximize our children’s chances of making the choice to remain part of that inner court, which is promised the ultimate inheritance at Christ’s return (Revelation 3:21).

We, of the Philadelphia Church of God, have been given the great God Family vision in glorious color, detail and precision as no other people on Earth have received it! Do you really grasp that? This vision has been unfolding in all its splendor in the revelation given by Jesus Christ to our pastor general and expounded through the pages of his booklet, The God Family Vision, that should literally take your breath away!

In Chapter 2, “Hannah’s Family Vision,” Mr. Flurry states, speaking of Hannah’s attitude to parenting, “She vowed to God that, if He would give her a son, she would dedicate him to God forever. … She understood what she had to do with that son. … How many people, even in God’s Church, understand that as deeply as they should? Child rearing should start long before the child is born, in that sense. Parents must first understand why God gives children. … She was ready before the child came. That is the kind of understanding it takes to be a proper parent God’s way.”

Reflecting a deepened insight into the reason why we have children, Mr. Flurry goes on, “Having physical children helps prepare the firstfruits to get ready to have billions of children in the World Tomorrow. … Rearing physical children is a type of what we will be doing spiritually in the World Tomorrow! … Rearing children is a trial and a test. There is struggle involved. We have to struggle to teach our children. Likewise, it will be a struggle to teach all the spiritual children in the future. So God has us start small, learning many wonderful lessons with a few physical children” (ibid).

Do you grasp that? As a parent, do you see that, understand it and live it? Is that your perspective in your household as a father, as a mother?

You see, it’s a matter of seeing the spiritual connection! That’s the missing dimension in parenting! And at this point in the history of man, at this very point in fulfilled prophecy, we have so much more of that spiritual dimension revealed to us compared to even the wonderful time of Mr. Armstrong’s apostleship. Are you taking that vision and running with it to teach your children? (Habakuk 2:2-3).

It is fitting that we conclude this installment on the subject of godly parenting with the words of our pastor general, taken from “Hannah’s Family Vision”:

Having a child is about bringing the whole world at one with God—one child at a time! We are supporting Christ in this effort. Why are we bringing them at one with God? So they too can be members of the God Family. That’s the only reason. When we see a little child, can we connect him or her to the God Family vision? Children of converted members in God’s Church, even if not baptized when Christ returns, I believe will still be a part of that firstfruits group, because they were sanctified before Christ’s return. Our children have such a wonderful future!”