PG Part Seven: The Cowards, The Clueless, and the Committed

Parents come in all varieties. In fact, so does advice to parents!

As parents who are attempting to model being disciples of Jesus, we have certainly read our share of books, listened to advice, discussed philosophies with each other, and tried many things with our family. While some of what we have done seems to have been well received by our kids, we are very aware at how often we have fallen short of Christlikeness. Even when our kids did the right things, often it was in spite of our parenting, and not because of it!

With Father’s Day approaching, I plan to use my final blog to recognize the importance of Dads in the home, while honoring my own father and his influence in my life (and my family’s life). But today I thought I would summarize with a Top Ten of sorts. These aren’t necessarily in order of priority or importance, but I have tried to summarize what I believe I would share with young parents asking for some tips. Again, I need to emphasize this: I FAILED many times. Some of what I share is from doing it the wrong way and learning from that experience. I am a recipient of such great grace. In fact, that’s where I will start. Actually, the first one I mention is really the foundation of the rest, so I guess the list is in order in that #1 is first and the rest fall under it …

1.  Preach the gospel of grace to yourself. Everyday. Every hour. Every minute. If you are forgetful, place reminders everywhere. 🙂 Study the bible so you can grow in your own understanding of the gospel for your daily life.

2.  Lighten up. Laugh with your kids. Laugh at yourself and teach them to be ok with laughing a themselves. (Not in a making-fun sort of way, but in a we-all-do-it sort of way.)
3.  As a mom, find a trustworthy prayer partner/accountability partner. Be real with them. Ask them for their opinions, advice and input. Listen well.
4.  Be willing to be the bad guy for a few years. It pays off! Stick to your convictions even when it seems your kids don’t like it … or you. Boundaries are a child’s security blanket for many years.
5.  Don’t die on the little hills. You will have to determine with your spouse what those are, but once you have, help each other to “let it go.” Sometimes, it’s not worth fretting over nor does it really need the overreaction we may give it!
6.  Let your kids fail and fall. Sometimes a scraped knee is better than over-protection. And as difficult as it may be, sometimes a bad grade or even a lost job teaches a lesson better than a parent’s (however well meaning it may be) interference or attempt to save the day.
7.  Listen more. Ask questions to learn, not just to respond. Get to know your child – what they are doing, who their close friends are, what they are looking at and thinking about it. And remember the why is more important than the what!
8.  Like them unconditionally. This is one of the most difficult ones to do, and I often didn’t do it well. Someone told me that we could love our kids without liking them. I doubt it.
9.  Embrace individuality and self expression. If it doesn’t violate your principles/reasonable standards, enjoy the uniqueness of your child – you may even become a better person by doing so.
10. Parent as a team. If it’s possible, do parenting together with your spouse. Talk. Listen. Share. Read. Learn. Apply …. together. Having a partner in parenting was my most valuable gift.

These are just some things I have discovered along the way. There are specific things I would have included like praying with your kids, reading the Bible to them, teaching them to have a biblical worldview, sharing the importance of making disciples, etc. But all of those you know, right? 🙂 In a way, my list is more general and practical … that’s intentional. There are very few specifics in the bible regarding parenting. So we have to depend on God’s wisdom and guidance daily. And that’s a good thing.
As I mentioned, parenting comes in all varieties. No one has the ability to corner the market in perfect parenting. Some parents live in fear of their kids and for their kids. Others have no idea what’s happening in their children’s lives. But if we are committed – deliberate and intentional – we can use the grace we’ve been given to raise up families who will make a difference in the world.

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