Whether in church or in your neighborhood or at any social gathering, all of us like to watch how other people live. We are people who are built for community, just like our Creator is in community as the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). That being said, no matter the socioeconomic status that a parent may be in, one thing is constant in parenting - there are good and intentional parents, there are mediocre parents, and than there are parents who are self-absorbed, and if we are honest, are not really good parents. Before you dismiss me on this, think about the Christian walk - there are Christians who abide in God's word and walk in step with His Spirit and yield to biblical truths; there are Christians who try to serve two masters: 1) the world and 2) God, and then realize that they are divided and conflicted in which way to go; there are Christians that have a lot of head knowledge of God, but have never connected the heart (the question then becomes did they ever surrender to self and truly repent to God as Savior? That is not for us to decide but that is between them and God.) Scripture gives us a way to know them by their fruit (Galatians 5.) All of this is to make the point that there is no clear-cut way to parent. Many of us, if we are honest, can look at any set of parents and realize that even with different parenting methods, there are those 3 types of parents. Today, however, I would like us to focus on the good parenting and give us 10 ways that are good and healthy ways to build up our child.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV) 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Here are 10 healthy ways to build up your child
- Give them your time - it is not just about quality, your child also needs your quantity of time. Dad's (and Mom's) when you give your child time, please put your phones down, turn off the television, hide the Ipads and give them your 110% devotion of time. Let them know and feel like there is nothing else that matters when you are in that moment with them. Love on them, hug them, reassure them and do life with them. Get involved in their likes (not your likes for them).
- Show them your faith - Revolutionary Parenting is a book by George Barna that gives a good study on what it is like to raise be a Revolutionary Parent and I highly recommend this read. Your child (children) are watching you and looking to see if there is a higher authority that you submit to. Meaning: Is God real in your life? Is your faith real? Do you practice what you preach? When you sin, do you repent? When you are wrong, do you apologize and ask for forgiveness and make it right? Is your faith something that is caught or just taught? If it is just taught and not giving them the desire to own your faith for themselves, then they will likely reject your faith.
- Encourage, Comfort and Urge - 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12a (NIV) 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God. Giving your child real confidence and truth in love is a sure-fire way for this child to be confident in who they are and when Jesus calls them to be His, they can find their identity in Christ, which is even healthier for them and their life.
- Discipline them - Proverbs 19:8 (ESV) 8 Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good. Proverbs 13:24 (ESV) 24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Your child needs boundaries and they are constantly testing those boundaries to see how far they can go. Be consistent with the crime, do not waver and do everything in love (not anger). For if God shows us mercy, we should be quicker to show those who we have been given stewardship over more mercy. Give them a safe home and comfortable boundaries to thrive and to be secure.
- Disciple them - Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- Point them in healthy directions - Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) 6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. The older I get, the more this verse makes complete sense to me. A lot of people, I believe, take this verse as if the child will never sin or depart from God's will...this is not a true conclusion (in my opinion) because we are all sinners and we are all broken, therefore, why wouldn't our children sin and depart from God's will? The key to this verse, for us parents, is to make our faith real to them and show them that we will always yield to Scripture in our lives and that our faith is real. When we guide them in the direction and facilitate life with them (we cannot always protect them from making mistakes or failing or falling) because that what life is. We can guide them like a Sensei does in martial arts, for Sensei means: "One who has gone before".
- Tell the truth - Let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no (be consistent) and do not teach them to lie by lying to them. This doesn't mean that you don't protect their innocence as adolescents because we have to shelter them and their innocence while we can. But as we discern their maturity in handling such matters in life, then be consistent in their lives by showing them character and integrity.
- Look for the teachable moments - whether you are at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table (or wherever opportunity thrives) share life with them in your experience and in giving them ethical dilemmas. Give them a place to express themselves and to open up to you in order to see how faith in Scripture gives us the answers in every situation.
- Love your spouse - if you truly want to be a good parent to your child, then love your spouse. Read 1 Peter 3 and Ephesians 5.
- Love them - tell them, hold them, kiss them and share God's word with them. Do not withhold love from them.
What are some of your ways to build up your children?