I became a Believer in Christ when my daughter Megann was very small. There was a definite shift in our home when I made that decision, but still I struggled with how to be both a father and a Christian.
Both of these roles were so new to me, and there were SO many opinions within the Church world about what that should look like. I had a heart to ‘train up my child’ right, but there were times I also disagreed with the methods that other people believed were necessary steps to parenting.
I’m sure Megann would share with you that early on Christie and I both swung from one extreme to the other—trying to figure out how to raise her outside what we ourselves had experienced growing up in non-Christian homes. Thank God that He is faithful, and that He knew our hearts were truly seeking Him as we shared our faith with our little one.
That said, we know that some of you may have just recently come to the Lord and are struggling to find a happy medium that balances emotional, physical, and spiritual training. Or maybe you’re like friends of ours who were raised in the church, but have come to realize that some of the doctrinal demands you experienced as a child were not biblical. We get it. We really do.
I think that’s why, this week as I asked the Lord what I should share with you He invited me to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years both as a father, and now as a grandfather.
Practice what you preach.
Kids do what they see you do. It absolutely does not matter what you say if you do not follow through on your end. If you want your children to seek hard after the Lord, they need to see you seeking Him first, as well.
It is not about perfection, it’s about honesty.
Children need to see the great benefits that come from spending time in His presence. They should see that even when we’re in a bad mood, afraid, or stressed that we choose to step aside and spend time in the presence of God, seeking Him first to meet those needs. It is good to model this with their own behavior as they struggle with difficult emotions.
Even a young child who has just thrown a tantrum, will seek comfort as you pray with them and explain how Jesus can help us when we are struggling with anger.
Never be afraid to apologize when you’re wrong.
Children need to hear you say that you are sorry. I have always said that an adult tantrum is no better than a child’s. If you make a mistake, yell, or hurt their feelings… discipline yourself just like you would them. If you expect them to take some time out for misbehavior, you do the same. If you expect them to apologize to their friends or loved ones when they are unkind, then you must set that example in your own life.
Celebrate their victories.
When they share something the Lord has shown them, maybe it is in a scribbly drawing even, write down the meaning on the back. Pin it to the refrigerator. Pray with them—thanking God for sharing something special with you both.
These are just a few ways that we have experienced breakthrough in our own family…
We are praying for all of our young mothers and fathers. As you continue to grow in the Lord know this… that He is faithful and if you will choose to take a step of faith to trust Him, even in the area of parenting, He will keep you.