Exceptions to The Rule?
By Tom Bushnell
The Bible sets forth many wonderful principles for us to apply in all areas of life, including child rearing. Do these principles apply to special needs children? Or put another way: Does God's Word apply only to "normal" people? In the Bible we will find all we need to know for life and godliness. I have searched the Scriptures and have not found any place where special needs people are exempt from sharing in the blessings of the Gospel through fellowship with the Father through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, or coming under His just and divine judgment. There is not one scripture that says children with physical or mental challenges should be trained any differently than other children.
The following is a partial list of some principals of child training that apply to all children:
1. Love, protect and pray for the children our Heavenly Father has graciously given into our care. We should love them in the same way our Lord loves us. Love them enough to keep them from evil, including ungodly influences whatever or where ever they may be.
Love them enough to be able to say "no" to an ungodly desire they may have. (We shouldn't cave in just to get them off our backs). Pray for and with your children daily.
2. Model godly behavior in your every day life. This is so very important. Children learn much more from example then lecture.
3. Teach, correct, reprove and discipline with great patience. Teach them how to behave. Once they have demonstrated the ability to behave properly in a given situation, then gently correct them if they fail to. If the problem is one of attitude and still persists after correction, then reprove. Calmly tell the child they must obey. If their attitude doesn't change then it is time to discipline. All this should be done in a calm loving manner.
4. Hold your children accountable. Do they know what you expect of them? A child's eyes can be a good indicator the attitude. (That is of course, providing the child is not blind or has some other visual problem.)
5. Be a man of your word. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. I am sure you have seen the child in the grocery store that thinks that "no" means bug Mom or Dad until they give in. Do not let idle words, including idle threats, come out of your mouth.
Do: Keep rules simple and make them clear. (i.e. obey your parents; no fighting; no yelling, running or throwing things in the house; pick up your own messes.)
Don't: Get Manipulated. For example, dads do not allow your daughter to "tie you up around her little pinky." If you do it will cause friction between you and your wife, as well as teach your daughter bad habits in relating to men.
Don't: Let your children pit you against your spouse. In our home one of the worse offenses a child can make is to ask dad for something after mom has already said no.
Avoid: Gray areas. Break thorny situations down to their basic components. ie. Johnny was selfish. He put his pleasure before the good of someone else's. Or, Jill was selfish, or Johnny and Jill were both selfish.
Always: Love your children. Love and protect them.
Love and pray for their souls. Love them enough to live a godly lifestyle before them. Love and teach them.
Love and correct them.
Love and reprove them.
Love and discipline them.
Our "special" children have much more in common with other children than they have differences. Be consistent.
Be a Deuteronomy Dad.