[blockquote cite=”Lisa Wingate, Author” type=”center”]Your children are the greatest gift God will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much. [/blockquote]
Over the course of my life, specifically the past 16 years as a counselor, I’ve met some really terrific parents. And, sadly, I’ve worked with parents who shouldn’t be parents. One forced her daughter, as discipline, to eat next to the dog and his bowl on her hands and knees with no utensils. Another thought good training was to lock her child in the cold basement in the dark so she could think about what she had done wrong. The parent was sure to remind the young girl to watch out for spiders. When I asked, no one in the room could remember the offense. No surprise there. And not that it even mattered what the child had done. No child deserves that. Obviously some people don’t understand the privilege and responsibility it is to raise kids. We need a license and training for many things… to drive a jet ski, to cut someones hair or polish toenails professionally. But to raise kids nothing is required. I look at the effort and money that parents put into their children’s sports or dance lessons. Or how much is put into making them dress cute or creating their elaborate birthday celebration. My point being that the real important things are often let go. Many of the things below….things that make up a responsible and stable adult….are often never addressed. It’s disheartening.
[pullquote cite=”Charles Portis, Author” type=”right”]If I had received good instruction as a child I would be with my family today and at peace with my neighbors. I hope and pray that all you parents in the sound of my voice will train up your child in the way they should go. [/pullquote]After meeting with a struggling, rebellious teen boy and his parents recently, I compiled the following list. I sat alone and wondered if this teen would have turned out differently had these things been poured into him. I do, however, understand the concept of free will and wrong choices that have nothing or little to do with parents. Teens sometimes just choose to do wrong things even with good parenting. I remind those parents that they did their best and that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. That even God’s children, in the garden of Eden, chose to do wrong. I also remind them to continue to pray for their child because their story isn’t over yet. It is not my intent to cast blame on hurting parents. I would never do that. It is my intent to encourage parents to deliberately and intentionally pour good and excellent training into their children.
It takes an awful lot of intention and dedication to be a great parent. The following list is for the many parents who desire to do a great job training their kids. I commend and pray for you as you diligently work at such an important task… raising amazing, stable and successful adults.
Teach kids how to problem solve.
Teaching your kids to problem solve starts early. When they don’t know what to do because their toys are being taken or how to get along with their siblings….these are teachable moments to help your kids problem solve. Parents can grow impatient and just say things like “stop fighting” instead of actually helping children to solve problems. Parents may say “go to your room” because they don’t want to be bothered. Kids need help problem solving. They need to learn how to resolve conflict in their life and if they don’t get help they will grow continually frustrated and angry.
Teach kids to manage emotions.
It is proven that people who have high emotional intelligence are the most successful people on the planet. Someone can have an extremely high IQ but not know how to deal appropriately with emotions, the emotions of others or their own. That person will struggle through life. It is also true that before most sins were committed in the Bible, there was an out of control emotion that preceded the sin. One of the first examples of this is Cain, who was angry and jealous. He then murdered his brother. Teaching your kids to handle emotions is one of the most important things a parent can do. I see many parents who yell and scream out of anger and then are baffled when they see the same behavior in their children.
Teach kids what to do when they are tempted to do wrong.
Many parents want to avoid this one altogether. They think, maybe if their kids are protected from the temptation it won’t be a temptation at all? Or maybe if issues aren’t talked about, then it won’t ever be an issue? Truth is, kids of all ages need to learn what to do when, not if, temptation comes into their lives. A wise parent discusses hard topics. How I wish I could relive this one with my grown sons when they were young. Unintentionally I think I left them on their own to fight some temptation that came their way. Now as a counselor and in hindsight, I see the huge importance of this training.
Teach kids to show respect.
Respect is essential to being a stable, successful and respected adult. The most amazing people I know have respect for God, others, authority, themselves, and life.
Teach kids how to give.
Kids are natural takers. It takes training to show them the blessing of being givers.
Teach kids to love others.
This is one of the greatest commands in the Bible. I believe that too many kids are modeling the behavior of critical parents and listening in on conversations that are unloving to each other and about others. Loving others is key to understanding God the Fathers heart.
Teach kids what being a real Christian is.
A real Christian is one who loves and abides in Jesus and His good news, the gospel. A real christian loves God and loves others in practical ways. Without this training they won’t understand their purpose on this earth. All throughout scripture we are told to “Love the Lord with all of our hearts”. The truth is that once God has our hearts, their hearts, then all of the other things fall into place.
Teach kids how to manage technology.
Otherwise, just like emotions, technology will manage them.
Teach kids how to communicate effectively.
The skill of communication is so vitally important to having success in relationships and in this life. Much of my counseling with adults is helping them to communicate appropriately. It amazes me when I ask the question “What is negative communication?” and people struggle with the answer. It’s as if they have never been taught what is appropriate to say and what isn’t. Actually, maybe they haven’t? Effective communication is a great gift and teaching your kids to master this art will do them well.
Teach kids to stand up for what is right.
There was an elderly bus monitor being horribly abused on a Greece NY school bus by a group of Junior high boys. Someone video taped the incident, it went viral and then made national news. I spoke with several kids who attended school with those boys. When asked what they would have done if they were on the bus they all answered “nothing”. Digging deeper, I found that they all knew that an elderly person being abused was wrong, but they didn’t know what to do about it. So they decided that they would do nothing had they been in the presence of the abuse. What if one of those kids on the bus had simply texted a parent for help? Kids need to be taught how to stand up for what it right. Or they won’t.
Teach kids how to set goals and how to work hard at reaching them.
Successful people are goal setters and hard workers. It’s not a natural thing for most people to accomplish this important life skill. Ask any hard working person and they will tell you of someone who modeled that for them.
Teach your child what to do when they have messed up.
Teach them how to be restored to others and to God. Many kids that I work with have guilty and shame-based consciences. This always produces anger and acting out. They are relieved when they are given a plan of restoration. Kids have a hard time separating who they are from their wrong doing. I’m so thankful for the gospel of Jesus that separates me, and who I am in Christ, from my sin.
There is more that could be added to the list above….how to handle money, to be disciplined, to eat healthy. But I encourage parents to at least think on this list and ask for Gods wisdom as you intentionally train your kids. You will never regret that you taught these things.
God the Father, as always, is our greatest example of a good and loving parent. He came to the earth incarnate to walk out a living example for us to follow. He doesn’t over correct, over control, or over discipline his children. Nor is He slack in His instruction. He is a balanced and good father who trains us continually.
The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
[blockquote cite=”Colette Fabry” type=”center”]The goal in parenting is not to create perfect kids or to be perfect parents. There is no such thing. The goal is for flawed parents to consistently model the beautiful message of the gospel. In real life. In real time. Every moment of every day. And thats only possible through abiding in Christ and He in us. [/blockquote]
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