May 31, 2012
Beyond Sesame Street…What Our Children Need Most!
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?
  1. Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, Baby Einstein, Disney?
  2. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber?
  3. The school bus…your kid’s school?
  4. 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)
  5. Or YOU – who God always intended to mentor, lead and teach your children.
We all have a vision for our children. I find myself thinking about our little girl’s future on a daily basis. But let’s imagine what our children might look like on their wedding day…okay, get past their wardrobe – I’m sure they look beautiful/handsome. Describe them? How would you describe their character that day? Would they have integrity? Would they be generous? Would they have compassion? What about their partner? Now take a step back…what has to happen now (while they’re little) in order for that vision to come to fruition? Just as we start potty training somewhere around 2-3 years old to prevent having a 12 year old in diapers, we’ve got to start considering the lessons we must pass along now so that our children will be everything God intended them to be. Where do we start?
Deuteronomy 6 RS
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. 
I don’t think we can get away with telling our kids “do as I say, not as I do.” Nor can we tell our kids to do something because “I said so.” Our behavior and our character must be intentional…and we must always keep in mind that our actions speak louder than words. 

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 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.

    Once again, another great study post!

    As a parent married to a nonbeliever, I find my hardest struggle is teaching *enough* Jesus in our home to share it with my kids, without sharing *too* much and offending my husband. Can you pray his heart will be opened to the Lord? Off subject I know, but I dream about raising our kids up in the Lord together, and I know Jesus has a purpose for our marriage…together following Christ.

    I love knowing that God chose me to be the mom of my kids, just as He chose my kids to be with me, teaching me so much along the way. It is a great responsibility to raise them well, and I call on Jesus daily for mercy and grace in my shortcomings.

    I love the messages your church delivers, and I thank you for sharing them in your space. :)

    (sorry I rambled)

      Excellent post with some good info, think i’ll share this on my twitter if you don’t mind and maybe even brlolgol it depending on the feedback, thanks for sharing.

    This was just written SO well! My Jax teached me something new everyday, & I am SO lucky for it! When I see his beautiful, smart, caring little self blossom & grow day by day it is just the best! It (being a parent, a REALLY GOOD PARENT) is truly the toughest BEST responsibility we are blessed to have. So excited for you hon!

    Ashley, this was so good and inspiring for parents, new and old! How I wish this could be taught to all parents before they have their children. Sadly, too often these days parenting is done by accident more than by design, and we are seeing the fruits of that style. God bless you as you prepare to raise your precious baby girl!

    Excellent post. You are a very wise young woman.

    I think another important aspect is extending grace to your kids. It sounds easy, and it really isn’t! We as parents aren’t just raising kids, we’re guiding them to know what’s right and wrong in society, and with God. It’s easy to forget during a tantrum when you just want your kiddo to stand up, stop crying and understand that we can’t buy the Ariel castle today.
    But when we extend grace to them, we can remember how passionate we felt at their age, that they don’t have the adult skills needed to be able to do what we want right away, and that this is a learning opportunity that can be handled with compassion and kindness. I don’t know if you ever read The Mommyhood Memos, but Adriel writes really wonderfully about this subject.

    This is such a moving post!! I would like to print it and give it to all my clients. I will admit that I have a rather tainted view of parenting and our society because of my career, but I believe we’re almost to the point that it can’t get worse (although I know it can). I see so many children every day who are just “thrown away” by their parents and it breaks my heart. I’ve been doing this long enough now, that I am seeing second, and sometimes even third, generations of mindless parenting. Parents who have no faith, so they can’t show their children faith. Parents who have no boundaries, so their children know no boundaries. Parents who have no healthy attachments, so they can’t appropriately bond to their children. Society has taken God out of so many things, and we’re going to have to let him back in for this to get better. You’re absolutely right about the church family helping to raise children. It’s a good start, in addition to intentional parenting, but it’s only an hour or two a week. We, as a society, have to allow God back in to our every day lives, our every day existence.
    There is nothing more important than our children. We have to raise them up right, in the ways of the Lord.

    Most excellent post Ashley. I think I would like your pastor. Before children are born, I think we tend to be idealistic, and have super dreams for them (not all bad) and then as they grow, we settle into a more realisitic point of view. Sadly, some of life’s most important lessons come from experience, letting them make mistakes and everyone learning from them. Love them. Love them hard. Love Jesus, and it will all fall into place.

    I haven’t had to time to read all of this, but I love what I have read! Great post!!!

    GREAT post!! I’ve been sharing a series on my blog that I called “encouragement for moms” simply because I think too often surface advice is given (babies cry, choose your battles, etc) and foundational advice is missed. God has taught me so much in my short 5 1/2 years of parenting so far and I am determined to train them up well!

    YES!!! We live by this. This is why we chose to homeschool among many other things. There is a funny saying I found on Pinterest. Something to the effect of “We homeschool because we have seen the village & we don’t want it raising our children”. We wanted to be the ones raising our kids- not the day care or whatever random person they got as a teacher for 9 months at a time. We didn’t want the influences of kids that were not being raised with the same morals & values. We try to teach our kids personal accountability, responsibility, self reliance, respect for others & living with a strong moral compass. It wasn’t something we were seeing in kids today- that was when the choice became clear. If we wanted to raise productive members of society- people who make a real difference, we needed to have a strong presence in their lives. Our relationship with them needed to be stronger than their relationships with their friends. I have to say- it’s working quite well.

    Yep yep yep! Amen darlin!! =) well spoken!! blessings~

    Excellent post and full of truth. If parents don’t mentor, someone or something else will. I like the three point remedy.

    Such a great post. Thanks for sharing.

    On a funny note as you took this Kenny said, “I think she is taking pictures of my butt.” ha ha. I like it though.

    This is intentional parenting at its best! We had our children in a christian private school and made the choice to pull them out and homeschool because the school was simply not living up to its “motto”. We are raising our children to walk with God! “Heaven NOT Harvard!”