- Love them anyway. Yes I know you love them. Most of us parents adore our children — most of the time. Yet, some parents have a way of regularly communicating to their children that they do not measure up. I’m thinking now about the young girl who grew up in a family where she was seen as the dunce. Now as a young woman, she continues to experience the same from her family. Children need parents who will believe in them and no matter what will love them anyway.
- Prepare them for the battleground, not the playground. Some parents constantly buy their children toys, gadgets, candy, McDonalds, etc. The kids then get into their high school years and the pampering continues. Only now, the toys are much more expensive. What does that communicate to these children?
Meanwhile, other parents prepare their children for life on the battleground where a spiritual battle is taking place. These parents realize that children need more than toys. They need to be equipped for life so that they will survive the difficulties and trials they will face.
- Deal with your issues. There are no perfect human beings. Yet, if you don’t deal with your own issues (your sins, your insecurities, your feelings of inadequacy, etc.), these can impact your children. They may end up having to deal with some of the very issues you would never grapple with.
- Take every opportunity to remind them of who they are in Christ. They will, most likely, receive many false messages about their identity. They will be told that their worth is based upon their academic record, their physical attractiveness, their charm, their ability to make money, etc. You bless your children when you help them grow up with a sense of their real identity.
- Bless your children by giving them you. There is no substitute for your presence in their lives. Your regular, consistent, emotional and physical presence means so much. I have known a few parents who seem to see their child as one more activity on the list of things to be done for the day. Yet one senses there is no real connection between parent and child. Being attentive and giving one-on-one time are priceless gifts to children.
- Say only what communicates value, respect, and love. Choose to never say or do anything that will humiliate. Sometimes, families will tell embarrassing, humiliating, stories about their children. The child is embarrassed at this but then the parent says, “I’m just kidding.” (In other words, “Since I think this is funny, you shouldn’t let this bother you.”) Listen, we all do things in our families that are silly, stupid, mindless, careless, etc. I have found that it is much better for me to tell about something silly or stupid that I did — not my children. Children need to know that homes are safe places where one’s mistakes are not announced to the world.
- Be your child’s greatest encourager. Before you move on, think about this one. Far too many parents are really not that encouraging. It’s not that they have a critical spirit. Rather, they just say nothing. Children are not mind readers. We can do better than just expecting them to know we are in their corner. They need to hear it! Make an effort to catch them doing something good, right, thoughtful, considerate, well done, etc. and point it out. Highlight it! “Hey, you really handled that situation very well.”
- Pray for your children. If you are not praying for them each day, who is? Regardless of the age, they need you to lift them up before the Lord in prayer each day. Think about their day. Think about their setting. Think about the people they will be with. Pray about these situations.
- Give them what they need not what they want. Many of us are very busy people. We have a lot going on. So often, parents will feel guilty about how busy they are and so decide to give them a new “toy.” Yet, we do our children no favors when we give them most everything they want. The point is this: Too many children grow up getting all the things they want while little attention is given to what they really need. Think about what your children really need if they are going to make it in this difficult world as obedient children of a loving God.
- Give your children something to look forward to when they come home. Give them a beautiful home to look forward to. That’s home — not house. Anyone with enough money can build a beautiful house. Our children need beautiful homes. Homes that are filled with warmth, laughter, and love. Beautiful homes are places where children can catch a glimpse of the loving God in the love of their parents. These homes remind kids that no matter how bad the day is at school or with friends, they can always come home.
by Jim Martin from Crestview Church of Christ