How the 'thou shalt nots' are the best parenting handbook you didn't know you had

Teaching your children the Ten Commandments may be the most important teaching you will ever give them. Discover why and how.

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  • Children need to be taught values that will ensure a life of integrity and compassion. Parents may think they have sufficient ability to teach these on their own, but without a powerful second witness they may fall short. There is no better powerful second witness than the word of God. Nothing will ring in your children's ears quite so clearly as His words coming from your mouth.

  • Which brings the point that parents need to know and understand these words. One of the most comprehensive proclamations of God's word to mankind was given in the Ten Commandments. Do you know these commandments? You may be surprised at how many of them you have forgotten. However, because you once knew them, you are most likely living them.

  • Take a few minutes right now and read what they are. You'll find them in your Bible in Exodus chapter 20. Set a time to read them aloud with your children. Help them memorize them. Nothing will guide them through their life quite like these sacred words, especially if you help them understand their meaning.

  • Let's take a look at each one and see why.

  • 1. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

  • Help them understand that God is a supreme Being who loves them. We honor Him. He is number one in our lives. Nothing else comes first.

  • 2. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image."

  • In Bible times, some people made images out of metal or wood and worshiped them instead of the true and living God. Knowing this commandment helps put earthly possessions in their proper place. We don't worship things — we worship God. He is living and cares about us. Things don't.

  • 3. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;"

  • So many people flippantly use God's name in an irreverent manner. Teach them how disrespectful this is to our Heavenly Father who loves us. When they honor God's name, they will be more likely to honor His word.

  • 4. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."

  • Do your children know what day of the week is the Sabbath day? The world at large seems to have forgotten. It's Sunday — a day of rest, a day to worship and learn about God, a day to visit loved ones, visit the sick, and enjoy your family. Heavenly Father gave us six days to work, play, shop, and do all sorts of things we enjoy doing. Sunday is different — it's His day.

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  • 5. "Honor thy father and thy mother:"

  • They need to know that God expects — even commands — that they treat you with respect. The best part of this commandment is that it has a promise attached to it. "That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." That's not an idle promise. A young friend of ours will testify to that fact. Her parents told her not to go with a young man who had asked her to the prom. They didn't have anything against him, just had a strong impression she shouldn't go. She liked him and wanted to go. It broke her heart, but she obeyed her parents and didn't go. The young man asked another girl and on the way they were involved in a car accident and both he and the girl were killed. This girl has expressed over and over that she was so glad she honored her parent's wishes and didn't go.

  • 6. "Thou shalt not kill."

  • Children grow up knowing this is wrong, but they need to know it is a commandment from God. We hear on the news of far too many gang-related killings. Our children need to know and understand the importance of this commandment, and that human life is precious.

  • 7. "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

  • This commandment is clearly a command to be faithful to your spouse after you are married, but its meaning goes beyond that. It's a command for all to save sex for marriage. Teach your children to be sexually pure and it will save them a world of grief. It will prepare them for a faithful marriage with a devoted husband or wife.

  • 8. "Thou shalt not steal."

  • Help them understand that stealing means taking something that belongs to someone else without their permission. They need to know that if they were to take a piece of candy — or anything else — from a store without paying for it that would be breaking one of God's commandments. If they take money or anything from someone else without their permission, that's stealing. People who do this are sent to jail. It's a big deal. Don't do it.

  • 9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

  • If you tell something about someone that is not true, that is bearing false witness, which is another word for lying. Give them some examples of how this can hurt people. Even very young children can learn this if you keep it simple.

  • 10. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house ... nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

  • We need to be satisfied with what we have and not be longing for what others have. That doesn't mean we can't work and plan for things we want and need. It just means we don't look at the things other people have and wish it was ours.

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  • As you teach these commandments to your children and show them by your own actions how to live them, they will be an anchor in their lives. Teach them that God gave us these commandments because He loves us. By living them, we can have the best possible life. No one knows what lies ahead for our children. You never know how these very teachings may be what helps them through a difficult time ahead.

  • Watch this powerful new two-minute video of Elizabeth Smart telling how the faith her parents taught her fortified her during a horrific ordeal in her young life.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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