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I was in my thirties when I first realized that many adults missed a crucial part of their childhoods — an upbringing. A lady Ray met while he was serving as minister prompted me to think something like this: “What that lady who just came by the church building to ask for help really needs is parenting. She needs someone to teach her how to live.” Many adults simply did not experience parenting.

The word “upbringing” isn’t one I hear a lot. Oh, someone might say, “I was brought up in Illinois,” or something like that; but it is just not common in the vocabularies of the folks I’m around. My experience must be pretty typical because when I looked up “upbringing” on Merriam-Webster.com, I learned that its popularity is in the bottom 40% of words used.

Upbringing is a great word though. I like to think of it not only in the sense of rearing a child but of actually bringing the child up, so to speak. None of us want anyone to bring us down and we certainly don’t want to bring our children down either. We want to bring them up.

Many years ago a woman told me that when her husband was a little boy (long before the Internet and R-rated shows on television), her husband’s daddy showed him and his brother pornographic films on a movie projector. That is one of the most extreme examples of a parent bringing a child down that I have ever heard, but far from the only one.

The best way to bring a child up is to point him or her up to God, His Word, and His standards. Parents who want to bring a child up can’t settle for the earthly:

Do not love the world
nor the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:15

A mama who wants to bring a child up has to be looking up herself and gently directing her child in that same direction. That doesn’t mean that mama and her child don’t have any fun. They have lots of fun, but it’s what used to be called good, clean fun. This isn’t worldly fun; it’s based on those true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, excellent, and praiseworthy things God tells us to think about in Philippians 4:8.

That fun doesn’t have to look like this Victorian tea party either, even though it does look fun to me.

Children at a Tea Party, c. 1893. Photo Courtesy Library of Congress.
Children at a Tea Party, c. 1893. Photo Courtesy Library of Congress.

Though I have many times wondered about a way that adults could go back and experience an upbringing, one’s own real childhood is the best time for an upbringing to happen. Like godly daddies, the upbringing mama has the opportunity to do this:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline
and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

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