Last Sunday was Father's Day and Mother's Day was in May.
Those days get me thinking of the encouragement needed and the prayers that need to be lifted for those in our community who are in the trenches of parenting (with kids still at home) though you never stop being a parent. There are many incredible parents in our community and if you are one, then you know that the greatest joys you’ll ever experience on this planet will have to do with your children … and some of the greatest sorrows you’ll ever experience on this planet will have to do with your children.
Parents experience joy, gratitude, frustration and confusion. At some point, you’ve probably struggled with figuring out the right way of relating to or disciplining your children, whether they’re young or almost grown.
Doing some Internet searches, I found numerous viewpoints on discipline and guiding your children. And, of course, when parents were being parented, they witnessed many approaches to discipline, some great and some not worth mentioning.
A wise mentor of mine once asked me, What do you hope your children will become? He was referring to their character, work ethic, faith, moral values, respect and kindness toward others and their world view. He went on to say, just like starting a project, you need to begin with the end in mind. What is the outcome to be? Same for your children. Whatever you hope they will become, you must model for them. Kids learn about respect from watching parents be respectful. Character, faith, generosity, love and more are learned from the environment you create as a parent and the life you live in front of your children.
This goes contrary to what the world says about what it means to be a successful parent. Culture can tell us that we’re great and our kids are great when our kids are cool or star athletes or make their way into the best college and grow up to become upwardly mobile and achieve more status.
But God has a different agenda. He wants us to raise our kids so that they love Him and they love others without prejudice. This takes consistency on the part of the parent and a willingness to set boundaries and find appropriate ways to discipline. Parenting is not easy. Before you know it (yes time flies) your children become adults and your impact, though still valuable, diminishes. Make the most of every opportunity and choose your words and actions carefully and with the end in mind.
Two words can be helpful for parents in the trenches: love and limits. Love means offering our nurturing and support and limits means laying down boundaries that say, “No, don’t do this because it’s not good for you.” Limits are also in the form of discipline and instruction. Discipline means providing clear and consistent consequences and actions, and clear instructions and words in an atmosphere of love.
Find other parents who are doing the job well, and talk to them about the tough stuff of parenting and learn from each other.
Take a deep look at the Bible and the views on parenting it provides.
And no matter what you do, don't give up. Your children are counting on you and your dedication will be in the reward of seeing who your children become and the difference they make in the future.