Essentials for Growing with Your Child
God gave us children because He trusts us to raise them. He believes we are exactly the right parents for our kids. We can’t predict what the seasons of our children’s life will bring, but we can be sure that God’s grace and wisdom will be present. We will not just survive challenging moments as a family, we will grow closer together through them.
The following thoughts will help us guard and guide our children through the changing seasons of childhood:
Have Great Faith
We must believe what the Bible says about our children and their future.
- They are a gift and reward from the Lord (Psalms 127:3)
- They will bring us joy, not grief (Proverbs 23:24)
- They will bring us pride, not shame (Psalms 127:5)
- They will follow the Lord all their life (Proverbs 22:6)
- They will be mature and able to bear responsibility (Psalms 144:12)
- They will be a blessing to the world (Genesis 28:14)
Let us not accept the negative predictions of our culture or even well-meaning friends. Why do we think the two’s will be terrible or that teenagers will rebel? Our kids do not have to break our hearts, “sow their wild oats,” walk away from the Lord, or experiment with sexual sin.
True faith perseveres. Parenting is a lifelong process with ups and downs, and we can’t give up when we are in difficult seasons. If we are faithful to our task, the hard times will pass and our reward will be to see our children walk in truth.
- What negative things have your heard about raising children?
- Did you believe them?
Grow in Wisdom
“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5).
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
The longer we parent, the more we realize our need for God’s discernment, understanding, and wisdom. It is only with divine wisdom and grace that we can be the parents we need to be. Our kids need us to be wise for their sakes. Children today face decisions, pressures, and temptations beyond what we might realize. They need our maturity and perspective when they face betrayal from friends, when life tragedies come, when the confusion of hormones and physical changes sets it.
Wisdom comes from God, but growing in wisdom is largely our responsibility. We must take the initiative to resolve problems and find answers. God has provided various means of growing in wisdom:
- The Bible
- Prayer and the Holy Spirit
- Mentoring from pastors and successful parents
- Reason and logic of a renewed mind. If we take time to think about situations instead of just reacting, we can usually see the solution.
- Books and teaching on biblical parenting
- Past mistakes, both ours and others.
- Where do you usually turn when you don’t know what to do as a parent?
Remain Humble and Teachable
The need for humility comes with being human. Even after years of parenting, we still make mistakes; we still have more to
learn. If we refuse to admit our errors or make needed change, we guarantee we will never improve as parents.
Our kids don’t need us to know all the answers, but they do need us to be humble and teachable. Our children will change and so must our parenting. We should regularly evaluate where our children are at and what our role is, and adapt to new seasons with grace and wisdom.
Maintain Healthy Communication
“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” (Proverbs 12:18)
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words
you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
See also Proverbs 15:1, 23; 16:24; 25:11, 15; James 1:26; 3:3-10.
Communication is central to understanding and the development of our children. Our kids need us to listen to them and they need us to talk to them. As we listen, we discern their heart and spirit.
- Should you admit to your children when you have made a mistake, and/or ask their forgiveness?
- How has your parental role changed in the past three years?
- How do you see it changing in the next three?
When we learn who they are, how they think, and what they need, we add value to our children. When we speak to them, we encourage, instruct, and direct them towards success.
Communication can be verbal or non-verbal. Verbal refers to the spoken word, while non-verbal includes tone of voice, gestures, and facial expressions. Successful communication becomes especially important as our children enter adolescence. We will rely less on discipline and rules and more on talking, reasoning, and appealing to their conscience.
True Communication Means That We
Listen actively. This means giving them our full attention and looking at them when they speak. When we listen, we reinforce their value and self-esteem. They know they are more important to us than housework, projects, or other people.
Ask excellent questions. Wise parents draw out the feelings, beliefs, and motives of their children’s heart (Proverbs 20:5).
Respect their opinions. Learn to value their feelings and ideas, even when they are wrong. We should not laugh at them, make fun of what they say, or silence them harshly.
Refuse to nag. Nagging will frustrate and drive them away. Sometimes we nag because we have allowed them to form a habit of ignoring us. They need to understand that we will follow through when we say something, and there will be consequences if they ignore us. Other times we nag because we haven’t learned to give them appropriate freedom to make choices.
- What are some good questions you can ask your kids?
Refuse to yell. Our tone of voice should become stern and serious when the situation demands it, but if we find ourselves yelling, it usually means we should have disciplined them already. James says, “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).
Speak words that edify. Our words are life or death, blessing or cursing to our kids. Words that edify include compliments and praise, instruction in wisdom, healthy correction, affirmation, and expressions of love and approval. Words that destroy include name-calling, lying, sarcasm, harsh words or tone, and expressions of hatred, disdain, or indifference.
- Is it ever correct to be angry with respect to your children?
- If so, when? How should you express it?
- What are some phrases you should never say to your children?
Stay Planted and Active in Your Local Church
Church is a parent’s best friend. While the responsibility of raising children belongs primarily to the parents, it is too big for us to carry alone. This is especially true as they grow, since we have less and less direct control in their activities and decisions. Part of God’s plan for our success is to plant us in a local church.
How does the church help us?
- It provides a support system of counsel and encouragement for parents, especially single parents.
- It is a source of spiritual strength and godly philosophy for parents.
- It provides a place where children can encounter God, deal with sin, receive healing, and get direction for their lives.
- It reinforces the values we teach our children at home, both from the pulpit and through the positive peer pressure of godly friends.
- It is a place where our children can see godly “heroes” or examples of faith to follow.
- It provides our children with something to be passionate about: God and His Kingdom.
- How are kids affected when parents stop attending church?
- How can we increase the positive effects of the church in our kids’ lives?
“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11)
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:10-14)
God knows our human frailty and treats us with compassion, and He expects us to do the same with our kids. The home is the best place for our children to learn about truth, mercy, and forgiveness. We may need to bring appropriate correction, but even in our discipline we show mercy (Habakkuk 3:2; James 2:13).
If our children feel they can never please us, they will be frustrated and, ultimately, they will quit trying. We don’t have to make them perfect now. It’s all right if our kids make mistakes. It gives us an opportunity to help them grow and learn. While clear obedience and attitude issues need to be addressed firmly, many mistakes are best dealt with by having a good sense of humor. We will probably all laugh about it in a few years, so why not laugh now?
- When dealing with your children’s mistakes, what is the difference between “showing mercy” and “letting him/her get away with it”?
I hope these essentials help you with your parenting, they really helped me.
– Pastor Gini