This past weekend, our church continued the “Modern Family” series with a lesson on what our children need most. Considering we’ll be expecting our first child in exactly two months (two months from tomorrow), this message couldn’t have come at a better time. If you’d like to watch or listen to the entire message, click HERE.
I am fully aware that parenting isn’t easy…not by any stretch of the imagination. Furthermore, society has only complicated parenting by offering opposing opinions on how we should raise our children. It makes it increasingly difficult to find our way through all that information and make solid decisions. Our minister offered up a pretty poignant quote from The American President (movie) which I think applies here:
Lewis Rothschild: “People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”
President Andrew Shepherd: “Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”
Doesn’t this apply to parenting in America…or rather how our children behave based on the parenting or lack of parenting they’ve received? If we allow our culture to step in and parent our children (via television among other things), instead of being the mothers and fathers that God intended, society will. As a result, we’ll have adult children well into their 20s, 30s, 40s even….because we didn’t do a good job of raising our kids and leading them the way they desire to be led.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says,
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”So then I ask you as we were asked in church, who do you want to raise your children?
- Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, Baby Einstein, Disney?
- Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber?
- The school bus…your kid’s school?
- Your church family – not necessarily a bad choice here (until you take into account that your kids are in the church’s hands for maybe an hour each week)
- Or YOU – who God always intended to mentor, lead and teach your children.
1. Build a Solid Relationship with Your Children.
- Listen – listen to anything and everything your child has to say. If we don’t listen to the little stuff when they are little, our kids will be less likely to communicate the big stuff when they’re big.
- Share your day – by sharing what happened during the course of your day, you will teach your child how to communicate. If, however, you walk in after a long day…and your kid or spouse says “how was your day,” and you say “fine,” then your child is going to model that behavior.
- Spend time in their world…whatever that means, just as Jesus did by existing in our world.
2. Model Character.
So much of what our children do is caught and not taught, thus we have to model appropriate behavior. Furthermore, we need to be aware that our children are always watching us…like little sponges.
- If we want our children to give, they must see us giving.
- If we want our children to service, they must watch us serving.
- If we want our children to be generous, they must watch us being generous.
3. Teach Along the Way. Be Intentional.
- What do you wish you knew at their age? – Teach them those things.
- Who do you wish you knew at their age? – Have those people be a part of their lives.
- What mistakes do you wish you would have avoided? – Warn them way in advance.
- Teach your kids not only how to win, but how to lose with dignity.
- Talk about God outside of the church..at the dinner table, at bedtime, during bath time, whenever. Tell them about your spiritual journey (age appropriate).
The point in all of this is that if we’re going to be the parents that God intended us to be, we have to be intentional. We’ll never be perfect at it…the best we can offer is imperfection with effort…which makes it that more important for us to introduce our children to our perfect heavenly father. At the end of the day, the one thing that our kids need to know and feel is that they are deeply loved by our creator. Anything else they chase in life will fall short of what God has provided.