What’s the old saying? “Common sense isn’t so common.” If you love the book of Proverbs, you have probably realized wisdom is often in short supply in our world. Yet for our children to be productive Christians, they also need to be wise. So what constitutes wisdom? What if we don’t always feel so wise ourselves?
There are some basic principles of wisdom you can pass on to your children, even if you haven’t quite mastered them yourself. Let’s face it, King Solomon wrote much of the wisdom literature in the Bible and still made some pretty dumb mistakes (I mean 1000 wives and concubines! What was he thinking?!) There is probably a lot you can do, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Make Proverbs a book your children know really well. God has put wisdom in every book of the Bible, but Proverbs has it in easy to remember chunks. Read it. Talk about it. Place important verses strategically around your house. Have memorization contests. More importantly, help your children understand how to put that wisdom into practice in their lives every day.
- Spend some family time reading and discussing books attempting to teach important wisdom lessons from a Christian perspective. Don’t take the books at face value. Older kids and teens can have fun debating the pro’s and con’s of the advice the author has given. You can start with the new Henry Cloud book Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again.
(We are giving away a copy to one of our readers – a few simple clicks and it might be yours for free. Note: if you are already a subscriber, you can still type in your email address for an entry). In the book, Dr Cloud discusses what many would say is common knowledge, but often find themselves doing the opposite anyway. He explains why it isn’t working and how to break those patterns. He covers everything from “never trust someone or something that is flawless” to “never fail to ask why you are where you are” to “never forget your inner life determines your outer success” and more. It is an easy read even for teens and mature children and could make for lots of lively dinnertime discussions.
- Teach your children about logic and rhetoric. Ok, hang with me for a second. When we started homeschooling, I thought this was pretentious, classical education, mumbo jumbo. We found a fun series my daughter and I enjoyed though and learned a lot from it. The The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning is one of several inexpensive books in the series. We did all of them – they were so much fun and so educational. Our daughter became very savvy at recognizing flaws in advertising and the arguments of various people. When she reached high school, we also studied Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion. This one has a ton of information about how to argue without fighting and to recognize the tricks of politicians and others who try to persuade you. It is slower to read mainly because there is so much good information to absorb. You almost want to practice one chapter for awhile until it becomes comfortable and then tackle the next.
- When your child needs to make a decision, help them plot out all of the possible scenarios. Part of wisdom (according to God via Solomon) is having a good plan. Help your children learn how to think about a lot of the things that might happen along the way and the best way to handle them if they do. Making a godly decision is so much easier if you have determined beforehand what that is in any given situation and that it will be your response.
- Ever wonder why God put so many stories in the Bible? “Family” stories and parables are a great way to learn basic wisdom principles. Study the Bible and discuss the stories in terms of the choices people made. Which ones were wise and godly? Which ones were the opposite? Were there times when people could have made better choices if they had taken the time to think a little more before acting?
- Tell your personal and family stories in the same way. When did you do something and later wished you had asked for advice first? When did your grandparents make a wise or unwise choice? What lessons did they learn? This can be fun for you and your kids. Kids love a well timed family story – especially those that are funny. My “check for animals before climbing a fence in farm country” story that ends with us running from a bull chasing us down a mountain on my great grandparents’ farm is a funny reminder to do some due diligence before exploring. Your family probably has plenty of similar stories to share with your kids.
- Share with your kids when you learn a life lesson even now. “Well, I guess I learned once again to get everything in writing” with the circumstances attached, may stick with your child better than twenty lectures on the same topic.
So have some fun and work with your children on developing their common sense/wisdom. Remember knowledge doesn’t do you any good unless you put it into practice with wisdom. And don’t forget to enter our giveaway for a chance to win Dr. Henry Cloud’s new book to get you started. (U.S and Canada only) It’s probably wise to enter to win a book for free!