August 09, 2018
I believe that the best way to love your kids is to be an intentional parent.
There is no such thing as perfect parenting.
In fact, the only perfect Father is our Heavenly Father, and the only perfect Son is Jesus Christ. They share a perfect Father and Son relationship.
As human parents, we make mistakes and that's ok.
God's design for us as parents was never to be perfect or to have all the right answers all the time. We aren't supposed to know exactly what we're doing or even why we're doing it all the time. But we are meant to lean on and trust God for all of the unknowns.
I believe that God uses our children as tools to teach us lessons and grow our faith and trust in Him. My boys are hard to handle sometimes, and God uses these tough situations as a tool to sharpen me and make me look and act more like Christ. He does this for all of us because He loves us.
As parents, we are supposed to train our children to love God and love others.
Parenting is not easy.
If you think being a parent is easy you are most likely doing it wrong. It is not easy raising good and productive members of society. Parenting is so much more than just taking care of your children and making sure they survive each day. Yes, that is a part of it, but that's not where it ends.
Parenting, at least intentional parenting, is about raising your children to walk with Jesus. To become thoughtful, compassionate, kind, forgiving, productive, and respectable adults who love fully and selflessly.
You cannot raise a child like this if you are your child's "friend." You should be their authority figure, their parent.
If your child likes you 100% of the time, you're most likely raising a spoiled brat. If they always get what they want and know how to push all the right buttons to get it, you're failing as a parent.
This doesn't mean you can't have fun together or be friendly, it just means that you should be a parent first, friend second.
Your child should know that you are in charge - this doesn't mean they will never challenge you, it just means that they know you will stand your ground in battle.
They should know that you are there to love them, take care of them, teach them, and protect them, not to just clean up after them, buy things for them, and make sure they're always "happy."
There is so much more to parenting than just getting your kids to obey you or respect you.
Intentional parenting is all about teaching and training your children how to be Godly adults.
Lead by example.
- Show your kids how to walk with Jesus.
- Love them through all life's seasons.
- Teach them how to act and live so when they grow up they won't be lost (Proverbs 22:6).
- Communicate with them, be quick to listen and slow to speak, and even slower to get angry (James 1:19).
- Be consistent and authentic.
I have not mastered intentional parenting, but here are a few practical tips I have found along the way:
- Redemptive Discipline teaches children that they are sinners in need of a savior. It teaches them that they are loved no matter what they do, by God and by mom and dad. But sometimes, our attitudes and actions need to be checked and changed. Children disobey and need discipline, not punishment, discipline. (see my article on redemptive discipline).
- The tone of voice you use when you communicate with your children is crucial. We teach our kids so much without knowing it. Too often I hear my children speaking to each other with a nasty tone that's all too familiar - my own. Before you're tempted to raise your voice and shoot off a malicious tone, remember - your children were created in the image of God, truly cherished and deserving of love and respect. You can be stern AND kind.
- Practicing patience is new to me. I am not a naturally patient person and I tend to assume my young children should just automatically know better. But sometimes they don't - they need to be taught. I learned the hard way that I wound them deeply when I react out of frustration and impatience, rather than respond with wisdom and love. Take a Holy Pause - take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and say a quick prayer before responding to tough behavioral situations.
Redemptive discipline, patience, and tone of voice all need to work together when dealing with disciplinary issues.
Tough situations are guaranteed to come up, they're a normal part of life. But always remember the God you serve and His plans for you and your children.
God gives us children so we can teach and guide them. That's our role - to teach and guide, and of course, to love.