Parenting: From This Side of Life
I know many young parents may just pass off what I’m about to say, — because my wife and I did — but, enjoy your kids while they’re home because it will all go by very fast. Maybe we dismissed that because it sounded like something our parents would say. But, here we are … in our mid 40’s with one gone and one ready to go. And, looking back — it did fly by, …the teen years especially. You may not be able to believe this now, but sometime over the next decade or two, you’ll be making remarks about how fast it went … just like we are now. (We do sound more like our parents as we age… )
There was no way, in 1996, that we could imagine our life experience and situation in 2019. And, while we had a plan and knew a lot more then than we do now, the joys, fun, smiles, laughs, challenges, disappointments, setbacks, and growth leading to the life we have today were impossible to see. Some of the things we said our kids would never do, they did. Some of the things we said we would never do, we did. But it all did work out. And, of the things that aren’t quite worked out yet, we trust that they will. We didn’t do things perfectly, and neither will you. There were many things we did do right, and so will you. So, what are some words of encouragement for those coming on behind, with kids still at home?
Commit your marriage and family to God’s way. You will need to be just as determined as Joshua who said, as for me and my family, we will worship the Lord, Joshua 24.15. Your kids need to see you fully committed to the Lord and have zero doubt that everything in your family will be measured by His standard — not the world’s. Any pressure to conform will be resisted and unapologized for because God’s way is what is right.
Remember the way you live is the way you communicate. You can constantly expound on your faith and trust in God, but what your kids will emulate is what they actually see. It has been said, the eye is a better pupil and more willing than the ear: fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear. Desirable outcomes in our children will be largely produced by our determination to live out our values in the small moments of life. Let your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no,” James 5.12b.
Be intentional with your time. As the years go by, it is easy to get caught up in your career, tending to aging parents, hobbies, or recreation. It is also easy to take for granted that the time will always be there. The years where they are young and constantly cling to you will disappear as the teen years approach. You’ll be much farther down on their priority list (except when they need money) and you’ll be wishing for more time with them. So, be intentional to make time to talk about God, read Scripture, and learn the pleasure of living for the Lord, especially when they’re young. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up, Deuteronomy 6.6-7.
Be humble. No matter where you are in parenting, you do not know it all. And, the current techniques and pop psychology found in magazines, websites, the universities, and television will never replace the eternal, time-tested principles of God’s word. Don’t neglect the wisdom and experience of those Christians who are farther down the road than you. Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old, Job 12.12. You may not agree with every parenting style, but the principle remains the same … there are others who have been there and done that. And many of them are eager to help you avoid the pitfalls they experienced. Not everyone in previous generations got it wrong and they bring a wealth of information, grace, and love to the table — and are very desirous to come up along side you for any problem you experience.
Don’t ignore reality. Those who have been through decades of parenting will tell you this is not the same world it was when they began. Times have changed and the social / moral fabric of our nation is declining with increasing rapidity. This is not pessimism — it’s reality — and you need to be vigilant in protecting your children. You may tire of hearing about the need to monitor their social media, their YouTube, SnapChat, text messages, online friends, and real friends, but you must go out of your way to do so. Today’s teens are comfortable with leading a double life with an increasing brazenness. Know your kids. Know their friends. Know where they are. They will think you are over-the-top, but it doesn’t matter. One of your primary jobs is to protect and shield them. Do not shirk this responsibility. In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly,. Stay away from people like that. 2 Timothy 3.1-5 (NLT). This passage is more than adequate in describing the times we live.
The Psalmist said, Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him, Psalm 127.3. This is so true. I remember when we found out Becky was expecting Emilea. I remember thinking how much our life was going to change … and boy did it ever. …And as we reflect back, it’s been so good. We are so blessed with two children who love others so much and are both committed to serving others. If we had to do it over again, we most definitely would. Tell them every day you love them and how important they are to you and everyone else in the family. Never, ever, ever, take any day for granted, because every day is a blessing from God.