I will never forget the day that I brought my child to tears, the day that I made him cry over something as silly as a reading lesson. It was a day where I had placed a higher emphasis upon his intellectual abilities rather than on his heart and emotions. It was a day I hindered him from the Kingdom of Heaven. It was a usual morning at our house; we were sitting on our couch going over our reading lesson again. Although it was an ordinary day in general terms, what was not ordinary (at least in my mind) was for my child, who was 7 yrs. old at the time, was not able to comprehend how to blend the basic phonetic sounds in the English language. Over the years we had spent many hours playing phonetic-based games, hands-on projects, phonic DVDs and computer games, etc. We had tried every type of learning tool we could find to teach our child how to read.
On that particular morning I had resolved myself to making sure that my son was going to master the subject before him, so I dug my heels in and put aside everything else in my schedule so I could devote my time to teaching him to read. It went something like this: I pointed out the letters and the sounds that each made, M-A-N. MMM AAA NNN, Man. “Now you try”, I said to my child. His response was mmm- aaaa- rrrr- nnnn, Marn. Marn? “No honey, there is no ‘r’ in the word, Man.” Over and over we tried. M-A-N. Again and again we practiced. I was determined to not give up until my child could master blending simple words. I pushed and pushed and became evermore forceful. Then next thing I heard from my son is, “I can’t Mommy.” “Yes, you can.” I said with a loud, angry and frustrated tone. My son started to cry and then I realized that I had broken his spirit. Now, this particular child of mine is not known for being very sensitive and I thought to myself that it was rather odd that he responded that way. I sat there pondering his reaction and I can still remember it years later.
Within minutes, my husband, who was at home at the time, came out of his office and asked what the problem was and I told him. He said, “It’s simple, let me do it” My response was, “Gladly”.
As he attempted to teach our son to read, he was faced with the exact same response. Our son could not get it and he started to cry again. As I sat there looking on, I realized that my teaching priorities and goals were outside of God’s Will. I deemed my child’s reading abilities more important than my child. If Jesus were the teacher that morning, He would not have brought this precious child to tears just because he was not able to read the word, ‘man’. God’s Word is very clear when it comes to His perspective about His children, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 Jesus’ motivation is for all children to feel loved and accepted by Him. He does not want them to be put aside because of His busyness or agenda, nor would He want the children to feel like they could not measure up to His standards. He wants all of His children to be a part of His Kingdom. Just thinking about our Savior should bring us to a place where we feel protected, accepted, loved, and wonderfully created. If Jesus were sitting next to us right now, would we ever feel as if we had any short-comings or defects in our abilities? Of course not! After all, He is the one who made us and He is the one who made our children. Jesus would be patient with us and He would be patient with our children no matter how long it takes them to read! He desires our children’s hearts and obedience so they can ultimately spend eternity with Him.
As I look back to the year that I was forcing my child to read, I realized there was a reason why I pondered the situation my son was in and why the Lord has allowed me to remember it; it is so I can share my own personal failures as a mother/teacher as well as share the things that the Lord has taught me with respect to teaching my children.
Perhaps you are trying to instruct your child on how to read or to understand a new math or science concept, what ever the subject is that you are trying to teach them, remember the most important subject to teach your child about is Jesus Himself, and the desire He has for your child’s salvation and their faith in the Lord. The actions that we display before our children on a day to day basis will determine whether or not our children will want to follow our Savior.
While teaching our children how to read is a very important and needed skill, however, that is not the most important thing in life, what is the most important thing is having a saving knowledge of faith in our Creator. My goal in teaching my son to read is so he can read the Word of God, first and foremost. While this is an honorable and noble goal, if it is done without love, it will hinder my child from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.