Oy vei! This chapter, chapter 5, was sooooo good, and it was chock full of such great information and so many bits of wisdom, that it's going to be hard for me to narrow this post down. I will probably add a few quotes, as well as tidbits that I took away from reading this chapter. I hope it speaks to your heart as it did to mine.
I have to start with this quote from Lewis' sixth grade teacher, and I think I could do a whole other blog post, totally unrelated to chivalry, on this quote alone; it's very powerful, so I'll let it speak for itself....it's in relation to promoting ethics vs. moral compromise in our children: "You are what you are when no one is looking." Does that not stab you in the gut? I know it did me. Powerful stuff.
Lewis puts forth that when dads teach their sons and instill in them values and ethical standards and promotes honesty and boundaries, that this "forever strengthens" his sons. These things will stay with our sons for the duration of their lives, and they will never forget, especially when it is taught in everyday life through circumstances and situations.
I thought that these two lists were also very powerful; they compare the seven major problems reported by schools in 1940 and now:
1. Talking out of turn
2. Chewing gum
3. Making noise
4. Running in the halls
5. Cutting in line
6. Violating the dress code
1. Drug abuse
2. Alcohol abuse
5. Rape (wow, this one startled me; in our schools?!)
(CBS Evening News, 1987)
Wow, that was back in 1987; I wonder what it would be like now? One thing we can see from this is that as parents, we have to raise our children up in the nurturing and admonition of the Lord; we can't let their friends raise them; we can't let television raise them; we can't let their Sunday school teacher raise them; we certainly can't let their teachers and schools raise them. It is up to us to make sure that they are being taught and raised with a Godly influence. It is extremely crucial, especially in these times. I'll give an example, that I'm not sure really fits in with this, but I just feel led to give it. Recently, in the news, I heard a shocking story of a neighborhood waking up to at least fifty vehicles having been vandalized by having no tires, or the tires were slashed. This was a pretty nice subdivision down in the Branson area. I wondered who would do such a thing; boy was I shocked to find out that it was two twelve year old boys. How did this happen? How did two twelve year old boys sneak out in the middle of the night to do such a huge act of vandalism? More importantly (and I don't mean to judge, but I'm trying to make a point here), where were their parents? Did they know that their kids were out this late, at twelve years old? Did they know if they snuck out? Or did they let them go out alone? It made me wonder about my own son....as he gets older, what kind of boundaries will be set? What things do I need to be teaching my son, so that he doesn't have that desire to do something so drastic? This job of raising kids is going to take a lot of prayer and perseverance on our part as parents.
Knights had a specific code of conduct to follow, the components of which were loyalty, behaving as a champion, chivalry and respect and love towards women, and a spirit of generosity. Lewis emphasizes three areas for us to be centering our teaching around with our sons: "A will to obey (God's will); A work to do (according to his own unique design); A woman to love." If we teach our sons and help to prepare them for life in these three areas, they are going to have a better handle and perspective on life.
A Will to Obey:
"True satisfaction in life is directly proportionate to one's obedience to God. In this context, moral boundaries become benefits, not burdens." Our best source for childrearing honestly isn't a radio show, and it's not the Supernanny book....nope, it's the Bible, God's Word. He has given us all the pieces we need for the puzzle of child-rearing right there in that book; all we have to do is pray for discernment and listen for His voice; dig in the Word. (I think it's going to take a lot of digging in our house. LOL) Lewis gives us the ideals for our young knights to work towards: "Loyalty, Servant-Leadership, Kindness, Humility, Purity, Honesty, Self-Discipline, Excellence, Integrity, and Perseverance." (If you'd like the verses for these, I will be happy to send them to you by email; there are quite a few, so I won't take the time to post all of them here) One verse in particular that really stuck out to me was 1 Timothy 4:12- Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe." I wish I had seen this verse when I was younger, and maybe I did, but I wish I had taken it to heart. So many of our kids are taught good, moral values, but they are succumbing to peer pressure, as I know I did too on certain things. I didn't want to be the odd ball out. This is a straight and true piece of wisdom from Heaven above: it's almost as if it says, "Who cares what everyone else thinks about you because you are doing what's right? Who cares what they think if you don't want to drink? Who cares what they say if you don't want to have sex until you're married? Who cares what they say if you don't want to go against your parents? Who cares what they say if you don't want to smoke that cigarette? Don't let that deter you from following God's will! I am God your Father, and I am telling you to show them what I am all about; show them how much my love can change their lives....be my example, my messenger of hope....." I love this verse, and I plan to encourage my own boys with it some day when I know they are going to face many pressures. As stated before, it's important for us as parents not only to teach our kids values, but we have to live those values; they are going to mimic what they see in us; it's a fact of life. I've read many things lately on using Scripture in every aspect of our teaching, even memorizing Scripture with our children. Lewis also advises reading to your boys; read stories of real-life and fictional heroes and men who have lived courageous lives. As I said above, though, what we live, how we live, and things we do each and every day with our kids are teaching opportunities, and usually, it's what they learn during these times that's going to stick with them for life and "forever strengthen" them. One aspect that a lot of parents struggle with is the aspect of discipline. It's so easy to just dish out discipline in the heat of the moment and not even talk with our kids about what happened, what they did wrong. Lewis proposes teaching obedience through "affirmation, attention, and discipline." It's so easy for us to be angry and just shell out the punishment; I know a lot of times for me, it's grounding Jacob for something. But how often have I sat down and actually discussed why he's being punished with him? How often have I used that as a teaching moment? I hang my head in shame because it hasn't been very often. Discipline needn't be a negative thing. And it's also vital that we praise them for doing the right thing....I know I definitely need to work on this aspect also. Remember, patience is a virtue; that's why it's so difficult.
A Work to Do:
As a homeschooling mom, I've done a lot of reading on this exact subject. It's important for us, as parents, homeschooling or not, to find what clicks with our boys. Find what they love to do, and go with it. Find what makes them tick, what makes their eyes light up with wonder and amazement and curiosity. Find their learning styles. Figure out where their gifts lie. As you find these out, encourage the gifts. Give your sons the chance to really work with these gifts and use them, not only in regards to life work, but in regards to spirituality as well. Help him gain focus as he grows older, so that might be able to discern more easily where God might have him to work.
A Woman to Love:
It's also vital that we teach our sons to love and honor women because some day they may be married. Even if they aren't married, it's important for them to learn how to treat the opposite sex with respect and dignity. Chivalry plays a huge role here. Ephesians 5:25-30 is a Scriptural outline for husbands. So many modern theories and propaganda refute this last step, but as Lewis says: "Men are called by God to love, lead, and honor their wives." In the past, I have partly considered myself to lean towards the feminist side (mostly out of trying to buck the hard core blatant disregard for women I had observed and gone through in certain church situations in my life), but God has started to truly bring a change over my mindset. Is it wrong for a woman to stand up for herself? No, not necessarily, if done in the right manner and under the authority of God's Word. Is it wrong for a woman to have thoughts and opinions of her own? No, certainly not. It's when we let our thoughts and opinions buck the authority of God's Word, that we are wrong. All of our thoughts and actions have to be within the confines of God's Word. Dads have the primary role of teaching their sons, but as mothers and women ourselves, we can teach our sons how to respect women; after all, we alone know best what makes us tick ;)....we can teach them Godly manners and ways in which they can be of help to young ladies and also how they can be a friend to young ladies. The last thing we want our sons to do is grow up to be overbearing, helpless, immoral men who have no regard for their wives....
I know this was quite long, and I'm sorry if it was just too much, but I had to include everything, or you might miss out. I loved this chapter, and I hope that it helped you, even if in some small way. Any thoughts or suggestions? I love your comments and input! More to come next week....