I believe that there is one role in particular in my life which has unquestionably done more than any other role I have in life to open my eyes to what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ! That one role is being a parent. God calls me his child because I have trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior, repenting of my sin, and accepting God’s forgiveness that was made possible by the death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” and Galatians 3:26 says, “For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God, through faith.” and 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” When God calls those, who believe in Jesus for forgiveness of their sin his children, this in turn means He is our Father. This was something I thought about some in the first 23 years of my life, but then when I became a father my world was rocked and I began to gain a much deeper understanding of the relationship I have with God because of my experience as a dad. The implications are almost endless… My heart melts when my children tell me they love me. I understand what it means to be thrilled and overjoyed when my child accomplishes something hard, or when they do something kind for someone else. I love explaining things to them that they cannot understand. My heart is warmed as I hold them securely in my arms and they smile at me knowing they are safe and secure. I also know the pain it causes me when they disobey and do something that I warned them not to do. I take joy in providing for them and not only that, but in blessing at times by giving them things they want but do not need… Since I am a father of four now, my eyes have been opened in so many ways to what it means to have a relationship with God through Jesus that He likens to a father-child relationship. It also makes me want to continually work at being a better dad by God’s grace and with His help!
Following are five parenting tips that I believe make a positive difference in the lives of families:
Pray daily for your children. Pray for your children every day. Pray for them and pray with them. Pray for them by name. Make a list of things you are praying for them and be diligent in praying for them. My oldest child turned six years old yesterday, and even though my children are young I have started praying for their future families now! In the gospel accounts we read how Jesus welcomed children into his arms and blessed them. In Colossians 4:2 it says, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Pray intentionally for your children daily.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
Listen to your children. Listen to your children. It is amazing how much my children will tell me when I listen to them. I learn so much about what is on their hearts and what is on their minds as I listen to them. In James 1:19 it says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” When you take the time to listen to your children you are showing them you care about what they have to say.
Spend TIME with your children. I remember hearing Roland Warren (the CEO of CareNet National) speak one evening and he said something I have never forgotten. He said, “Children spell LOVE T I M E.” I believe this is true and the more time that we can work into our schedule to spend with our children the better. Focus on spending time here and there with them but also make it a point to spend large amounts of quality time with them. Sometimes you just need to put down what you are doing and prioritize time with your child/children. Also, my wife and I each make it a point to regularly spend one-on-one time with each of our children. They thrive when they get 100% of our attention! I’ve had many parents tell me in regards to their parenting, “If I could do it all again, I’d spend more time with my children.”
Tell your children, “I Love You” often. This sounds simple but it is powerful. When you tell your child that you love them it gives them reassurance and affirmation that they need!
Make a big deal about holidays, birthdays, and vacations! I remember my uncle telling this to me and Heather during our pre-marital counseling. He warned us that life gets busy and it is easy to get to feeling like everyone is going in opposite directions with their time, but making a big deal out of holidays, birthdays, and vacations gives the entire family frequent quality times to look forward to spending as a family. Putting his advice into practice has certainly been a blessing to our family.
I want to mention that I believe these parenting tips can and should be put into practice no matter what stage of life you are in as a parent and no matter how old your children are. We happen to have young children right now, but I have seen these practices bless families that have children that are all grown up and moved out. It’s never too late. Take time to be intentional about making a positive difference in your family and ask God to help you!