Parents – Raising Kids is Hard. But all Good Things are Difficult.
“Parenting is hard, but there are few things in life that rise to this level of importance. God has chosen parents to be primary instruments in the shaping of a human soul.” –Paul Tripp
An honest assessment and probing of society shows the results of how every person was parented. Apparently, we need help in this department. Here are ten things exceptional parents know and live by.
1. Intentionality is a prerequisite for healthy children.
“So much of where we end up results from the way we were pushed at the start, and the direction our lives took from the beginning. And that’s where ethics come in. Call them values, or convictions, or worldview or whatever you want, but the fact remains that the trajectory of our lives generally is set by the things we either accept or reject in our formative years.” –David W. Hegg
Many can see that success in terms of finances only happens when you strive for excellence in your particular field of work. To be halfhearted or not take your job seriously is to risk financial woe. The quality of your material possessions and ability to have financial freedom depends on the amount of effort and time you invest in your job. So too, in raising children, it must be remembered that you are responsible for another person’s life. The quality of their existence long-term is largely dependent upon the foundations set in childhood.
2. Time is short, so train, teach, and discipline well.
A university student once asked Billy Graham what was the greatest surprise he had about life. Without hesitation, Graham replied, “The brevity of it.” He went on to say, “Time moves so quickly, and no matter who we are or what we have done, the time will come when our lives will be over.”
If the years went fast for a man who had already lived many decades, how much more quickly will time go while your kids are under your direct care? The majority of your influence and involvement will happen in this small window, so train, teach, and discipline well.
When you become an empty nester or pass away, how will your children describe their upbringing? Will they be indebted to you for equipping them to manage life, relationships, and a myriad of choices in a healthy and God-honoring way? Or will they feel neglected and burdened over all they weren’t taught and all they were allowed to get away with?
Related: 6 Ways to Raise a Sex Addict
3. Regular one-on-one time with each child should not be underestimated.
“We have yet to meet a child (or an adult, for that matter) who feels deeply loved when he is given only occasional bursts of ‘quality time.'” –Dennis Rainey
I have found in my own life and in talking with others that our fondest memories with Mom or Dad included focused acknowledgement and a listening ear.
When children know their parents care enough to offer frequent undivided attention, it often means more than any birthday party, gift, or planned fun experience. Just knowing a parent or guardian is present can fill a child with stability and hope.
4. Proper etiquette and social skills go a long way.
Because we share a world with other people, we have countless interactions with others over the course of one’s lifetime. When we instill in our children the ability to leave people (and places) in good shape, with the goal of adding beauty instead of chipping away at it, we demonstrate a strong concern for all their future exchanges, including their work and living environments.
People are drawn to well-mannered individuals who respect themselves and others. The contrary is painful to behold.
5. Reading is exponentially more important than entertainment.
“The world’s artificial pleasures are all but evidence that the human race has to a large extent lost its power to enjoy the true pleasures of life, and is forced to substitute for them false and degrading thrills.”– A.W. Tozer
Entertainment’s sole purpose is to entertain. Unfortunately, it’s often birthed from foolishness or sheer stupidity. Entertainment is a major culprit in the loss of our time and can make us lazy. It trains us to retreat further into ourselves and beckons us to escape reality, instead of helping us to find our place and purpose in it.
This is where reading thought-provoking, rich material comes in. Reading sets our eyes on the vast universe we inhabit and its many possibilities and opportunities. Just as honey can be added to enhance the flavor of a homemade dessert, some entertainment can sweeten and benefit our lives, but over-consumption has an ill effect. Reading, however, especially when done in excess, fuels victory, passion, knowledge, and understanding.
As Dave Ramsey put so well: “One of the great gifts my mom gave me was she taught me that anything that you want to know, anything that you want to be, any problem that you have, can be solved from a book. Books give you access to other people’s wisdom, other people’s experience, and the wisdom of the ages for that matter.”
6. Strong charachter and servanthood bring true value to a child’s life.
“The building of character is the most important business of life. It matters little what works a man may leave in the world; his real success is measured by what he has wrought along the years in his own being.” –J.R. Miller
If we view strong character as the foundation for a healthy existence, we must prioritize training in this arena of life from the beginning. This training should include how to set boundaries, be responsible in all areas of life, discern the character of others, and choose what’s best over what’s most convenient. Without strong character and integrity, people are often destined for more than just moral failure.
When parents view their children as souls accountable to God, they’ll seek opportunities to increase their children’s maturity level and ability to joyfully serve others.
Too many individuals let chaos, disorder, fear, and a lack of follow-through rule their lives. This often stems back to a childhood that lacked intentional character building and an appropriate focus on others. For this next generation to thrive, we must equip them with the solid foundation of noble character, maturity, and servanthood.
7. Modeling an unwavering trust in God lays a strong foundation.
“God does not promise that he will take away the circumstance you are wrestling with. He doesn’t promise to give you everything you want or everything you think you need. But he does promise to give you himself. And in your tests and in your temptations, nothing could be better than that.” –Tim Challies
Children are natural learners. By observing others, they pick up how to conduct themselves in everyday life. When parents display a steady trust in God despite circumstance, it acts like an anchor holding a ship in place.
We have no guarantee of ease in this life. We cannot thrive without an active and ongoing relationship with God and His Word. Let your children see you cling to Christ and rest in Him in both good and bad times! Do not make the grave mistake of shielding your kids from the difficulties of life and the unexpected. The truth hurts, yet it’s pure gold for a child to witness how Jesus can sustain us even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Don’t let feelings rule the day. Model an unshakable faith to your children, and they will find it much easier to trust Christ when trials occur.
8. The inward person is worth cultivating.
“Training young people to develop a Christian mind is no longer an option; it is part of their necessary survival equipment.”– Nancy Pearcey
Like a garden, our children will bear fruit when they’re regularly cultivated. Our outward actions showcase our worldview and character, which stem from our internal thoughts and beliefs.
How many lives have ultimately fallen apart due to a lack of heart and mind cultivation from childhood! Our children aren’t a project, but we are responsible for those under our care. It’s a weighty responsibility, and it should convict us to make the most of our time with our kids.
Consider anything of value in your life currently. I’ll bet much time and hard work lead to its great value. Children ought to be our greatest investment, for the human soul will outlive any other accomplishment or feat we tirelessly commit ourselves to (i.e. health, financial prosperity, material possessions, the ability to travel or retire early, etc).
9. God’s word brings hope, strength, healing, freedom, and joy.
The greatest privilege, gift, and hope one can experience is consuming God’s holy word and applying its truths.
Have your children regularly read the wisdom and directions the Bible offers (from beginning to end, starting in their earliest years). It encourages their hearts from running amok and their minds from feasting on worldly philosophies. It helps them correctly view the human soul. It highlights their need to be in right standing with the One who gave them life and provides them guidance.
Parents, I encourage you to read the Bible to your kids from their infancy. Pray diligently on their behalf that the word of God would shape their motives, words, and actions. Teach them the importance of reading and applying it every day. Model what it looks like to cherish it! Setting such a powerful foundation from birth will convict and equip them to prioritize their soul’s health above all else.
10. The common definition of success does not equate to a life of significance.
Every person, regardless of race, age, sex, or financial status, ought to weigh their brief years on this earth in light of eternity. Doing so shapes the choices we make and encourages us to intentionally spend our years well. Worldly success is but a hollow shell in comparison to the gravity of impacting souls for the Kingdom of God.
Surrendering our lives to God is the richest and most fulfilling way we can spend our years. It brings the opportunity to realize our true, God-intended potential.
Through Him alone, we can become the people He calls us to be. Without keeping Christ on the throne of our hearts, self will reign. And how many lives have been brought to ruin by following their every whim and fancy with little regard for their Creator and His truth!
Final Encouragement to Parents and Parents at Heart
“Fathers and mothers, do not forget that children learn more by the eye than they do by the ear. No school will make such deep marks on character as home. … Do not think your children will practice what they do not see you do. You are their model picture, and they will copy what you are. Your reasoning and your lecturing, your wise commands and your good advice; all this they may not understand, but they can understand your life.” –J.C. Ryle