The world is full of worried parents: the dangers, threats and temptations for our children appear only to grow. And adults are generally getting busier and more pressured.
Can a Christian faith help us in our parenting? The Bible speaks of God as Father, and so we can look to him as our model. Importantly, God also gives us our own security and nurtures us as his children.
Probably one of the most serious, yet common, dangers of parenting is guilt. Why? Because our mistakes are laid out clearly before us, on a daily basis...
|It's one of the hardest -
and most rewarding -
jobs we can ever do
We are stressed out, or too busy; short with our children; cross more quickly than necessary; we don't listen properly; we don't have time to play their game; we get irritated, and hurry them up, when we could be laughing and joining in with the messing-around...
But God doesn’t want us to feel guilty. So what can we do? A few reminders:
Firstly, pray. Pray, pray and pray some more! Pray for future issues (however distant). Pray for healing from the past. Pray for present concerns and for current damage limitation (when you've just had a bad day!). It is amazing to see what God does when we pray.
Secondly, be yourself. There is no perfect upbringing for any child. Material provision may give them the best opportunities in one way, but living in the poorest community can develop them in other amazing ways. And there is everything in between. You don't know who God has made them to be, but the best you can offer them is showing them how you seek to be all God has made you to be. You will be poor at being someone else, but you can be pretty good at being you!
It goes without saying that you need to love them, and in being yourself you will do it with integrity. However, there is a lot to learn about how to love, such as considering how a child will best receive love, and the all-important message that you love them unconditionally. Times you can give them will be well worth the effort. Moreover, if you can think ahead to the child's needs for the next stage, rather than only responding to them now, so much the better.
I am a believer in routine. Just as a game of football is enjoyed much more if the rules are clear and followed (or refereed!), so a child is much happier if they understand what’s expected of them. From the earliest teaching that nights are for sleeping to sticking to boundaries for teenagers, you give security and trust as you earn respect and friendship.
Look for support! Children need other adults too, don’t be afraid to use them!
So keep praying and striving to be friends with your children, as you also take seriously your responsibility to guide, teach and discipline. Pray too that they know both the friendship and the faithful fathering of our loving God, into whose hands we trust them.
Pray: Father God, what an incredible gift children are. Thank you so much for this gift, for the chance to love someone so powerfully and unconditionally; help me to understand that this is how you feel about me, too. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to experience parenthood, and please help me to get better at it every day. Keep them safe, now and always. Amen.
Look up what the Bible tells you about children (New Life Version)
Hear the Father’s Love Letter to a Child
Watch the video clip 50 ways to say I love you to your kids
Watch the video clip Parenting – Early Years
Visit the Christianity Today ‘Parenting’ website
Read the book Never Mind the Joneses: Building Christian Values into Your Family by Tim Stafford
Read the book Skydiving for Parents: Raising Amazing Kids Without Going into Freefall by Jane Bullivant
Read the book Help! I'm Raising My Children Alone: A Guide for Single Parents and Those Who Sometimes Feel They Are Single by T D Jakes
Read the book How to Succeed as a Working Parent by Steve Chalke
Take an hour to change your child’s life forever with Rob Parson's books The Sixty-Minute Father and The Sixty-Minute Mother
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