- Whether we like it or not, family shapes our entire outlook on life and how we navigate the world we live in. It’s why we can’t do parenting alone. We only get one shot at raising our kids. The bible says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV). What does this mean in today’s society? As our culture becomes more obsessed with consumerism, kids are not only becoming entitled but seriously ill-prepared for the world ahead. In order for our children to fulfil their destiny, it will take parents directing them. Our role is not just to ‘care’ for children but to prepare them for the future. Have you noticed that kids want to do their own thing, in their own time – often with no consideration for anyone else? By nature, young children are self-absorbed and consumed with their own little world. It’s why sharing is so foreign to them. We’ve all seen what happens when a child doesn’t grow out of this phase. They become entitled, selfish, greedy, socially incompetent and possibly narcissist in the workplace. God’s intention is that we become parents who go beyond providing food on the table, clothes on their backs and the occasional fun experience, but that we would help our children mature and grow into their God given destiny. How do we do this?
- Love your children (even when you feel like killing them)
Let’s be real. Raising kids is exhausting sometimes. Getting up in the night for milk, wet nappies/beds, attending to nightmares, growing pains – it can take a toll on us. In the midst of constantly attending to our children, we don’t always feel like we love them. The world tells us that love is a feeling. The bible teaches us that love is a choice. In parenting, we may not necessarily feel like we love our kids, but we certainly ‘choose’ to love them through the tantrums and teenage hormones.
- Take hold of the teaching moments when you can
Life is busy. We won’t always have the ‘around the campfire’ moments in family, but we can use every opportunity to have to teach our kids real life lessons. I’ll never forget the valuable time I spent with my dad when we did sign writing together. My dad didn’t just see it as a job, but an opportunity to spend time with me. During our work we’d talk about the birds and the bees, I’d tell him I liked this cute girl named Kath (my now wife), and dad would give me advice when I needed it. It wasn’t forced. There was no ‘come here son and let me teach you some things’ – it was just us doing life together.So wherever you are, whatever you’re doing with your kids, use the small opportunities to do life alongside them. Don’t fall for the trap that you’re too busy. The truth is, if we don’t teach our kids, the world will do it for us.
- Don’t be a hypocrite
The world is full of parents who expect their kids to act a certain way, and then fail to do so themselves. Your kids will never take you seriously if your actions don’t match your words. Saying sorry is not always easy as parents. When we choose to own up to our own immature behaviour, our children will learn from our example. The apostle Paul instructed the church to ‘follow my example as I follow Christ.’ In the same way, we should lead by example in every aspect of life – from the way we treat our spouse, to the way we walk out our relationship with God. Don’t kid yourself into thinking your kids don’t notice. They do. Kids today are crying out for role models to look up to. Be the role model that God intended for them.
- Give your kids permission to fail
One of the biggest hindrances to this generation is their inability to see failure as part of life’s natural process. If we don’t fail, we never learn or grow from our mistakes. Failure is crucial to success. It doesn’t come as a surprise that ‘helicopter parenting’ has become the latest trend in raising kids today. Parents feel the need to prevent their kids from having any negative experiences in order to protect their fragile self-esteem, wrapping them in cotton wool to ensure they avoid life’s dangerous perils. As a result, we have kids who are paralysed by fear over the most menial things, from filling out forms, applying for their licence, to presenting an oral presentation in front of the class. Eventually, they don’t risk anything. A common mistake today is that we don’t let our kids risk enough. Allow your kids to confront their fears. Don’t feel the need to constantly rescue them.
Social media blogs and so called ‘experts’ are quick to tell us how we should raise our kids. Be wary of who you listen to. Cautious of the trends. Raising kids is one of God’s greatest gifts to us!