Parenting Plan – Realize Your Valuables
Successful parenting is not an accident, but the result of having a parenting plan and a dedication to your children. One father defined the process of raising children: “You may always enjoy being a parent, but not always enjoy parenting.” Parents are quick to share the challenges of trying to cultivate good character traits in their offspring. Every parent wants of develop certain character traits -- respect, confidence, and unselfishness. How can parents generate compassion and consideration in their children?
Children need to know that they are valued. The Bible says children are a gift: “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). Of course a parent might not consider times of disciplining “a rewarding experience”! Yet, even God disciplines those that He dearly values (Hebrews 12:6). When a child discovers they can make a difference in another person’s life, they realize they are of value as an individual. By allowing your child to help you -- sort laundry, rake leaves, or get your sweater for you -- you are telling that small child, “Hey, you are a valuable part of this family. We couldn’t get along without you.” Parents must never take these young lives for granted, but regard them with high priority. A valued child learns respect, confidence, and unselfishness as they contribute to the family’s well-being.
Parenting Plan – Know Somebody’s Watching
Francis Bacon [1561-1626] understood the primary source of a child’s learning. “Parents who wish to train up their children in the way they should go, must go in the way in which they would have their children go.” A child doesn’t have to look far outside their home to find examples of cruelty or disrespect. A simple family activity can often counteract those negative influences. Children must be given opportunities to practice compassion towards others. Our daughter-in-law asked our grandson, “Would you like to help your sister hold her bottle?” (He has younger twin siblings.) In the beginning, Alek was reluctant to help with “double-feedings” and we never forced him to be kind, but the first time the twins “cooed” their thanks, he beamed with confidence.
While on a recent outing at the playground, we noticed a younger boy waiting in line in front of our grandson. We were a little surprised to see Alek come down the spiral-slide first -- with the younger boy on his lap. “When he got to the top, he got scared so I helped him learn how to go down like Daddy did with me!” Children by nature want to receive attention and approval, so they will exercise what they have learned from their parents. We didn’t overly praise Alek, but gently reinforced his behavior by telling him that it was a kind thing to do. Children must choose their own acts of kindness. It was our grandson’s choice to not tease or ignore another child’s concerns. When a child (or even a parent) responds unselfishly, the impact is significant (Matthew 25:35-40).
Parenting Plan – Confess Mistakes
Anyone who believes they have a fool-proof parenting plan is fooling themselves. Yet, teaching children about respect and consideration can occur even if we’ve failed in the parenting plan. Your child misbehaves and you snap -- responding with tense anger. What can be done when you’ve done something wrong? Apologize. Imagine your child’s reaction when you say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t think about what I said (or did). How do you feel?” On those occasions, parents teach respect and humility to their children.
We all make mistakes, but an apology gives us an opportunity to teach our children about extending forgiveness. Perhaps you think you’ve made too many mistakes in life. Imagine God’s reaction when we say, “I’m sorry for what I said or did.” How do you think HE feels? “If we say that we have no sin [mistakes], we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:8-9). God is ever-watchful and responds to our needs. As children of God, our Heavenly Father values us.
He values us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sin. Even when we were guilty and deserved death, God provided a way that we can have forgiveness of sin and live with Him in heaven for eternity. He rose from death and now offers us the gift of eternal life. What a joy it is to share this message with our children, for they too can accept Jesus’ gift of forgiveness.