“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
Parenting is a privilege and a responsibility. I know of no parent who intentionally wants to mess up in this very important job, but some of us do simply because we neglect to keep in mind some basic Biblical principles.
So, from one parent to another, please allow me to share with you seven keys to successful parenting that I learned on my own parenting journey:
1. Love your child. At first glance, this sounds like a no-brainer. But what does it really mean? It means to discipine and train your child according to God’s Word. It means to do for your child what he needs, not what he wants.
Too many parents confuse loving their child with giving in to their child. This is backwards. Unfortunately, many parents give their child everything he wants out of fear of losing their child’s love. This is a very dangerous practice.We will never win the love of our children by giving in to their demands. Worst of all, we will lose their respect, and respect is the foundation of love.
When my children tried to get their way, I used to tell them that I was not in a popularity contest and I didn’t care if they liked me or not. I was going to do the right thing by them. To this day, they jokingly remind me of that phrase with thanksgiving.
2. Know your child. To know your child means to understand her heart. Each child is wired differently. It is up to you as the parent to learn how your child is wired. You do this by asking God to show you and by spending time with your child, listening carefully to what your child says and observing how your child responds to situations.
Ask your child questions. Do you know your child’s favorite color? Favorite food? Favorite animal? If you don’t, then you need to get to know your child better.
3. Respect your child. Children are little people. They are not inferior people. Treat your child with the same respect you would give to an adult, because your child is an adult-in-the-making.
Respect your child by being courteous to him, giving him all of your attention when he speaks, maintaining eye contact with him. Encourage your child, and never belittle him through your words or your actions.
4. Expect the best from your child. We will get in life what we expect. If you expect your child to go through the terrible-twos, your child will go through the terrible-twos. If you expect your teenager to rebel, your teenager will rebel.
Frankly, I never expected my children to go through the terrible-twos nor to rebel as teenagers. And they never did. I expected the opposite, and I got what I expected.
Children can sense your expectations and will fulfill them. So, speak words of life over your children. Say to them what you expect them to be. Tell them they are wise and courageous and Godly. They will fulfill what you speak about them.
5. Guide your child. There is a popular saying that good parents give their children roots and wings. We can give our children roots in the Word of God, the only place worth putting down roots.
As they are rooted in the Word of God, the wings that you give them will be wings of wisdom, discernment, and understanding–wings that will cause them to fly to safe places, places of righteousness that will keep them from stumbling in life.
6. Enjoy your child. Children are fun. Some of the best times you will have in life will be with your children. Spend time with them. Lots of time.
Get involved in their activities. Grow with them. Most of all, be childlike with them. There is a little child still inside you. Let that inner child come out when you spend time with your children. The rewards will be great both for you and for your children.
Jesus said that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become like little children (Matthew 18: 2-3). Spending time with your children will renew this perspective in your own life and bring you great joy.
7. Pray for your child. It goes without saying that we should pray for our children, but sometimes we parents need a reminder. If you have not been praying for your children, begin now. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools in a parent’s arsenal. Use it frequently.
Of this you can be sure: God is more invested in your children than you are. He will give you all the wisdom you need to face every parenting challenge as you yield to Him in prayer.
So, there you have it: Seven Keys for Successful Parenting. Use these keys regularly, and you will soon be enjoying the friendship of Godly adult children–respectful and respected–whom you have had the privilege of rearing with the gracious and ever-present help of the Lord.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN: What is your greatest parenting challenge? How can one or more of the seven steps above help you overcome this challenge?