Teach Your Child to Be Peaceable
Thrilled about her family’s cross-country move, eight-year-old Nicole regularly updated her close friend Gabrielle on every detail. One day, Gabrielle suddenly blurted out to Nicole that she could not care less about her leaving. Deeply hurt and angry, Nicole told her mother, “I never want to see Gabrielle again!”
CHILDHOOD crises like Nicole and Gabrielle’s often require parental intervention—not just to soothe hurt feelings but also to show how to handle the matter. Young children naturally display “the traits of a babe,” and they are often unaware of the harm that their words and actions can cause. (1 Corinthians 13:11) They need help to develop the qualities that can contribute to peaceful relations with others in the family and elsewhere.
Christian parents are keenly interested in training their children to “seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:11) The happiness that results from being a peacemaker is worth all the effort needed to conquer feelings of suspicion, frustration, and animosity. If you are a parent, how can you teach your children to be peaceable?
Build a Desire to Please “the God of Peace”
Jehovah is called “the God of peace” and is identified as the one who “gives peace.” (Philippians 4:9; Romans 15:33) Thus, wise parents skillfully use God’s Word, the Bible, to instill in their children the desire to please God and to imitate his qualities. For example, help your children to picture what the apostle John saw in a striking vision—a magnificent emerald-green rainbow surrounding the throne of Jehovah. * (Revelation 4:2, 3) Explain that this rainbow represents the peace and serenity that surround Jehovah and that such blessings will extend to all who obey him.
Jehovah also provides guidance through his Son, Jesus, who is called the “Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) Therefore, read and discuss with your little ones Bible accounts in which Jesus taught valuable lessons about avoiding fights and disputes. (Matthew 26:51-56; Mark 9:33-35) Explain why Paul, once “an insolent man,” changed his ways and wrote that “a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, . . . keeping himself restrained under evil.” (1 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:24) Your child’s response may be a pleasant surprise.
Evan remembers being taunted when he was seven by a boy on a school bus. “I got so mad at the boy that I wanted to retaliate!” he says. “Then I remembered a lesson learned at home about those who try to pick fights. I knew that Jehovah wants me to ‘return evil for evil to no one’ and to ‘be peaceable with all men.’” (Romans 12:17, 18) Evan then found the strength and courage to defuse this explosive situation by responding in a mild manner. He wanted to please the God of peace.
Be a Peaceable Parent
Is your home a place where a peaceful atmosphere prevails? If so, your children can learn much about peace even when you do not say a word. Your effectiveness in teaching your children to be peaceable depends largely on the extent to which you imitate the peaceful ways of God and Christ.—Romans 2:21.
Russ and Cindy work hard at training their two sons, exhorting them to act in a loving way when others irritate them. Says Cindy, “The attitude that Russ and I display toward the boys and others when difficulties arise plays a big part in how our boys end up handling similar situations.”
Even when you make a mistake—and what parent does not?—you can still use the opportunity to teach valuable lessons. “There were times when my wife, Terry, and I overreacted and disciplined our three children before we had all the facts,” admits Stephen. “When that happened, we apologized.” Terry adds: “We let our children know that we too are far from perfect and that we make mistakes. We feel that this has not only contributed to peace in our family but also helped the children learn how to pursue peace.”
Are your children learning how to be peaceable by observing the way you treat them? Jesus admonished: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) Despite any shortcomings on your part, be assured that the love and affection that you show to your children will produce good results. Your young ones will respond more readily when direction is given in love.
Be Slow to Anger
Proverbs 19:11 says: “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger.” How can you help your children cultivate such insight? David describes a practical approach that he and his wife, Mariann, find helpful with their son and daughter. He says: “When they get upset with someone who says or does something hurtful, we help them to have fellow feeling. We ask them such simple questions as: ‘Did the person have a hard day? Could he be jealous? Has someone hurt him?’” Mariann adds, “This tends to calm the children instead of allowing them to dwell on negative thoughts or to debate who is right or wrong.”
Such training can yield marvelous results. Note how Nicole, mentioned at the beginning of this article, was helped by her mother, Michelle, in a way that went beyond simply mending the rift with her friend Gabrielle. “Nicole and I read chapter 14 of the book Learn From the Great Teacher,” says Michelle. * “Then I explained what Jesus meant when he said that we should forgive someone ‘up to seventy-seven times.’ After I carefully listened to Nicole as she expressed her feelings, I helped her to feel Gabrielle’s sadness and frustration because her best friend was moving so far away.”—Matthew 18:21, 22.
Nicole’s newfound insight into what might have led to Gabrielle’s outburst helped her to develop fellow feeling and motivated her to phone Gabrielle to apologize. “Since that time,” says Michelle, “Nicole finds happiness in being considerate of others’ feelings and in doing nice things for them to make them feel better.”—Philippians 2:3, 4.
Help your children to avoid becoming agitated by mistakes and misunderstandings. Perhaps you will have the satisfaction of seeing your youngsters express genuine goodwill and tender affection to others.—Romans 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:25.
Encourage the Beauty of Forgiveness
“It is beauty . . . to pass over transgression,” states Proverbs 19:11. Jesus, in his most agonizing moment, imitated his Father and displayed a forgiving attitude. (Luke 23:34) Your children can learn the beauty of forgiveness when they personally feel the comfort of your forgiveness.
For example, five-year-old Willy loves to color pictures with his grandmother. On one occasion, Grandma suddenly stopped, gave Willy a sharp rebuke, and walked away. Willy was distressed. His father, Sam, said: “Willy’s grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. So we explained this to Willy in language that he could understand.” After reminding Willy that he had been forgiven on numerous occasions and that he should do the same to others, Sam was amazed at Willy’s reaction. “Can you imagine how my wife and I felt,” says Sam, “as we watched our little son go to his 80-year-old grandmother, talk to her in an apologetic tone, and then lead her by the hand back to the table?”
It is beauty indeed when children learn to “continue putting up with” the shortcomings and mistakes of others and to forgive them. (Colossians 3:13) Even when people purposely behave in disruptive ways, assure your child that a peaceful response can be powerful, for “when Jehovah takes pleasure in the ways of a man he causes even his enemies themselves to be at peace with him.”—Proverbs 16:7.
Keep Helping Your Child to Be Peaceable
When parents use God’s Word to instruct their children “under peaceful conditions” and as “those who are making peace,” they are a source of true blessing to their children. (James 3:18) Such parents are equipping their offspring with what they need to resolve conflicts and to be peaceable. This contributes immeasurably to their happiness and satisfaction throughout life.
Dan and Kathy have three teenagers who are all doing well spiritually. “Although there were challenges in training them during their early years,” says Dan, “we are thrilled that our children have turned out well. They now get along with others, and they freely forgive others when something threatens peace.” Says Kathy, “This is especially encouraging to us, since peace is part of the fruitage of God’s spirit.”—Galatians 5:22, 23.
With good reason, then, as Christian parents, do not “give up” or “tire out” in teaching your children to live peaceably—even if progress at first seems to be slow. As you do so, be assured that “the God of love and of peace will be with you.”—Galatians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 13:11.
^ par. 6 See the picture on page 75 of the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
^ par. 16 Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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A POSITIVE INFLUENCE?
An essay published by the Media Awareness Network entitled “Violence in Media Entertainment” observes: “The notion of violence as a means of problem solving is reinforced by entertainment in which both villains and heroes resort to violence on a continual basis.” Only about 10 percent of the TV shows, movies, and music videos that were analyzed considered the consequences of violence. Instead, states the essay, “the violence was simply presented as justifiable, natural and inevitable—the most obvious way to solve the problem.”
Do you see the need to make adjustments regarding TV viewing in your home? Do not allow media entertainment to undermine your efforts to teach your children to be peaceable.
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Instill in your children a desire to please “the God of peace”
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Take time to correct hurtful speech and actions
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Your children should learn to apologize and to forgive