These simple truths will encourage you to live out your faith in a way that points your children to the Lord.
The last 30 plus years, I have spent my career counseling as a professional counselor and as a Head of a Christian school. I have been amazed at the stark contrast between those parents who have been intentional in their parenting and those who just want to be friends with their kids. It can be difficult to know the balance in our modern world.
As you seek to raise the next generation of Christ-followers, here are a number of key concepts that my wife and I have tried to implement during our years of raising our three daughters. We hope you find them encouraging.
You are the right parent for the job!
I will frequently share with parents who meet with me about parenting their children that they are the perfect parent for their child. How do I know this? God does not make mistakes. He specifically chose you to raise your child and “train them in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6). Parents are often paralyzed by the enemy with false beliefs about parenting. Before anyone can raise kind, respectful, God-honoring children, you must pursue God’s word. Read, study, listen, obey, trust, memorize, and live out God’s word. It will guide you and give you encouragement to endure the many challenges of parenting. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.”
Be the right role model! Find the right role model!
The greatest way of learning for kids is to model. Kids are desperate for a great model, someone to follow as they find their way. Christ modeled the life we are to live and we must model and imitate Christ (Ephesians 5:1). Children watch carefully what others do. In the lower school years, it is primarily the parents that they want to be like. This is why it is so important that children see mom and dad treating each other with kindness and love. This is why it is so important for kids to see you praying together as husband and wife and experience you praying with them early in their formative years.
In the middle and upper school years, peers become significantly more influential as well as other adults they respect. Thus, it is critical that you utilize others to point your kids in the right direction.
Here are several ways you can insure your kids are surrounded by positive role models:
- Be aware of your behavior, actions, priorities, and what your kids see you doing.
- Be intentional about who your kids are around.
- Get plugged into a local Bible-believing church to model a commitment to following Christ and building Christ-like relationships.
- If it is possible, placing your kids in a Christian school is of tremendous value because your kids are at school more waking hours than they will be with you once the school year starts and you want Christ followers speaking life into your kids.
I have had the privilege of being involved in Christian camping and I find the influence of amazing Christian camp counselors has a monumental impact on the formation of kids’ faith. Remember, kids will imitate what they see, especially if they think it will make them popular. Model Christlikeness so they will learn the true purpose of life is a relationship with Him.
Make sure they know they are loved!
It seems a bit simplistic and it has an unbelievable amount of power, but, love your children. There is one common thing that everyone who comes into my office needs and that is to be loved. I would say every human desires to be loved and feel loved. As a parent, you are the most important love agent for your child. What you must realize is that children need to be told and shown that they are loved.
I Corinthians 13 outlines what our children need from us and others. We must train them up by giving them patience, kindness, not jealousy, not a bragging spirit, and no arrogance. We should not act unbecomingly, not seek our own, not provoke, and not take into account wrong suffering. We should not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoice in the truth. We should show them what it means to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. Our children must understand that love does not fail and it is the greatest of faith, hope, and love.
God’s word is filled with examples of both great and poor parenting. It has numerous scriptures to guide us on how to navigate the journey of parenting:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to your Word.” Psalms 119:9
“Bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
“Do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” Colossians 3:21
“But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Proverbs 13:24
My wife and I have not parented perfectly. The number of sleepless nights and days in prayer asking for wisdom and guidance are in abundance. What has helped us has been the understanding that our children are a gift from God. We must utilize His word to know how to model truth and the way they should go. Our children desperately need to feel loved and it is our responsibility to love them as Christ loved us. Finally, God did not make a mistake by making us our three girls’ parents. We are called as parents to trust Him, not lean on our own understandings, in all our parenting acknowledge Him, and He will make the path straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)