I had the privilege of hearing Craig Jutila give a speech last week on parenting.
Craig is a legend in the children's ministry world and was the Children's Pastor at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church for over 13 years.
His talk was on how our children are not taught but catch things we do by our modeling and actions.
He used a great acrostic to illustrate his point.
M - Manage your time. It is very easy these days to devote our time to the wrong areas of our lives. Jobs, sports, friends, television, hobbies, the internet. All these areas vie for our precious time but they do not enrich our family. Quality time with our family and children is where we need to invest our most precious resource to ensure a healthy family and home life.
Ephesians 5:15-16 "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise making the most of your time, because the days are evil."
O - Observe Teachable Moments. These are those moments when life happens and you have to be prepared to teach your children a lesson from them. Your child or their friends steal something, you help a homeless person, your children are turned down for a position or part. These moments can pop up at any time and require you as a parent to step in and provide guidance and wisdom. My friend Tim Kimmel even goes as far as suggesting we should have Designed Dilemmas in order to teach these lessons.
Deuteronomy 6: 6-8 "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon 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."
D- Date Your Family. Read the studies, they all show that children (and wives) want more time with their dads and husbands. We have to make it a priority to spend time each day with our families, real quality time. I really like spending time as a family each week as well as spending a least an hour each week, alone with each child. I take my kids to Starbucks or Jamba Juice and just talk and ask them about their lives.
E - Encourage Your Kids. Some of most wonderful words to come from a parents mouth are these:
"You're really good at..."
"You make me so proud because..."
"I love the way you..."
Kids constantly look towards their parents for affirmation and to see if they are "getting it right." They want guidance and they want us to tell them when they are doing right and wrong. We have to encourage them but we must be sure to encourage them in the proper areas. Faith, Morals, Character and Values should be the top priority.
Hebrews 10:24 "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works."
L - Learn From Difficulty. Out of difficulty comes growth, out of growth comes character. Dr. Gary Smalley found that one of the traits shared by successful families is camping. Camping allows families to spend time together enjoying God's creation and it also presents many difficulties to endure and learn from together. (See SurvivorDad) We have to show our kids that yes, parents fail, make mistakes and have difficulty in life and then show them how we deal with these difficulties.
James 1:2-4 "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."