By Christa Skipper
Last week, I shared with you about parenting with the end in mind and parenting for heart transformation, not just behavior modification. This week and next week I will share a few practical ideas for this kind of parenting.
Model: Our children watch us and know us well. If we want to see change in their attitudes and actions, we must model that for them. We must allow God to change our hearts and be an authentic model to our children. There is a saying that says, “do as I say, not as I do.” This is NOT a good statement! We must show our children godly principles by the way we live, talk, and act. We will never be a perfect example for them, but they will know if we are living authentically. Our children can spot a fake! We must allow God and the Bible to change us and make us more like him. We must tell them how God is changing us.
We have conversations about why we do what we do as parents. We explain to our children that we make decisions or do things because it goes along with what the Bible teaches. We tell them we don’t do certain things or believe things because they contradict God’s Word. We also tell them when we make a mistake and apologise to them if needed for a negative attitude or words. Show your children each day what it is you would like to see in them.
Teach: Teaching God’s truth and godly principles should start in your home. Church is important and a great support for families, but we are commanded to teach our children when we get up, go to sleep, walk around, basically all the time. (Deuteronomy 6:7) Do not depend on schools, churches, or any agency to teach your children principles that are important for life.
Teach them how to read and apply God’s Word.
Teach them God’s faithfulness to people in Scripture and his faithfulness to you.
Teach practical wisdom from books like Proverbs.
Teach how to go to the Bible for answers about anything or decisions they need to make.
Teach them how to pray and talk to God.
Teach them that God’s word is relevant to you and relevant to them.
Often at dinner we ask everyone at the table (including us), “what is God teaching you right now?” This one question is a source of accountability and encourages our children to be reading and learning from God’s Word. We talk about those things and also learn from each other.
Since they were young, we have had a very short principle that we have said over and over to them.
We say: “Love God, love people, and share the gospel.” We want them to know that if they don’t remember anything else, to live by that principle. What is a short mission statement for your family that you can teach over and over to your children? What do you want them to remember and live by for years to come?
Your children are never to young to serve other people. Serving turns the attention from being selfish to being selfless. It teaches our children to be humble and to look out for the needs of others. Make serving others part of your family’s DNA, something you do naturally. You will have to be intentional and make plans to serve people, and as you do, serving will become more natural for your children. Eventually they will also see the needs of others and be willing to help. As a family we try to do small things for the people around us. We take meals to new mothers, meals to families who have experienced a death in the family, we help a widow with chores at her house, we take food or clothes to those who could use them. We try to serve people around us and let our children serve right alongside us. They help prepare, pray and they know they are part of serving others instead just watching their parents serve.
- Christa Skipper is standing in for Ashley Thaba