For the past four weeks, Norma Jean and I have been living and working with the church in Madrid, Iowa.
In addition to preaching each Sunday and working with their fine young preacher, Stefan Richardson, the shepherds asked me to teach some classes on Parenting. Our theme has been Parenting with Purpose.
Good parenting involves intentionality. Intentional parents have goals, establish priorities and are value-driven. No parent is perfect. But every Dad and Mom can be a priority parent.
Want to be a great parent? Begin with this axiom: Parents lead….children follow. But too often we impose a higher standard on our children than we do ourselves. We must set the right example. And role model before them righteous relationships.
Parents, how’s your relationship with the Lord? Is your home a Christ-centered home? Is the Word of God respected? Is worship to God rendered? Is the will of God relied on?
How is your relationship to one another as husband and wife? Jay E. Adams wrote, “The best way to be a good father to your children, is to be a good husband to your wife.” And I would add, the best way to be a good mother to your children is to be a good wife to their father.
When the parents mutually love and respect each other as the Bible teaches, it creates an atmosphere of warmth, acceptance and cooperation. It takes work. Requires focus. And demands commitment to shared family values.
A number of years ago Dr. John Baucom wrote, “With the appearance of the two bathroom home, Americans forgot how to cooperate. With the appearance of the two car family, we forget how to associate. And with the coming of the two television home, we forget how to communicate.” I wonder what Dr. Baucom would write today?
With the addition of computers, iPads, and iPhones, it’s more challenging than ever. One the great challenges of building a strong family today is the problem of communication. Really listening is further exasperated when everyone is looking at their smart phone instead of talking to each other. Paul Lewis was right when he wrote, “It’s far easier to keep communication lines open than to repair them once they’re broken.”
Communication is enhanced by following the simple directive of James 1:19. Be quick to listen. Slow to speak. Slow to anger. In other words. Listen up. Slow down. And chill out.
Parents, take him to listen to your kids. See things through their yes. Give them your undivided attention. Show them affection and appreciation both verbally and non-verbally. “Praise is the greatest tool in behavior modification, according to psychologist B. F. Skinner. “It goads us to better performance and encourages us to take the risks that expand our lives.”
The late Roland Lewis who taught Home and Family at Florida College for many years had a saying, “Never say ‘no,’ when you can say ‘yes’.” Look for the good and praise it. Quit magnifying your kid’s mistakes. In How To Be A Hero To Your Kids, Josh McDowell learned the negative approach didn’t work. So he developed the motto: “Try to catch your kids doing something right.”
Parenting is time-consuming. And great parenting cannot be achieved without investing time in your children’s lives. Shared time together says to the child “you’re important to me.” It offers an opportunity for improved communication. Alleviates feelings of isolation. Cultivates relationships. Fosters family unity. And creates positive, happy memories.
When your children are grown, they are not going to remember a material possession or gift, but will fondly reminisce about things you did together as a family. Activities. Vacations. And events.
Sadly, too many parents allow inevitable conflicts and challenges to drive a wedge in the family, rather than pull it together. Selfish motives, carnal desires and refusal to accept personal responsibility further hamper our ability to properly parent. When trials are treated as opportunities instead of obstacles, the family grows stronger.
The wise man wrote in Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” What legacy are we leaving for our children and grand children? Greater and more valuable than a financial windfall, are biblical values. Proper priorities. Strong relationships. A good name. Pleasant memories. Godly instruction. And sacrificial love.
“The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!” (Prov. 20:7).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman