Raising Little People is not something that school or university prepares us for. Suddenly this little, absolutely helpless screeching bundle is trustingly placed in your arms as the whole world turns their gaze upon you – what now?
Recalling a puppy we once had or a baby kitten maybe the closest we got to holding something so helpless before this mighty moment of graduation into this new, eternal state of Parenthood. Daunting is not even a word that came close to how I felt the first time I help our first baby. Aged 25, far from parents to help and guide… clinic nurses and baby books and magazines was all I had to go on. Oh my, how we stumbled and fell, so often we messed up but slowly, slowly we figured this out together. Slowly everything became more natural with practice.
Yes, it did take 5 babies for me to realise that it is a good idea to wait till 6 months to start solids and their first food can just be a mashed banana or avo – straight out the skin. So many other things took me just as long to learn. One thing I did learn quickly, however, was that this little person was dependent on his Dad and Mom and we needed to do all we could to show him the way in this crazy world.
The most important thing…
What better way to show him than through bringing him to know and love Jesus, because then I knew that trusting him to grow into all he had created to be was not reliant on who I was but rather on his relationship with his Heavenly Father. This bringing our children to know Jesus is one of the key aspects to our parenting.
I remember a friend recalling when she sat beside her dying daughter’s bed (God did however do the miraculous and brought her back from death) but at that moment – when she sat there – believing these were her last moments with this precious child. She recalls not wondering if they had done enough maths or what her last spelling score was? She sat there wondering if as parents they had sufficiently prepared her for eternity. Was she ready to meet her king?
What is it exactly that brings our children to know Jesus more and to form their own relationships with him? (Because they can’t rely on our relationship with Jesus to be what feeds them.) After parenting our children presently aged 4 to 21 years old these are somethings I have learned.
What I have learned…
1. Teach them to read the Bible. From the day they can read a full sentence get them their own adult Bible and every morning, before getting out of bed, they need to read at least 1 verse. This not only trains them to read their bibles daily but it lets them begin to hear what God has to say to them for themselves.
2. We need to talk about Jesus and our relationship with him all the time to our children. What we are learning, how he’s speaking to us, our struggles and how we are outworking our walk of faith. Let them know that you are finding it hard to choose to love someone who has hurt you or that you don’t always find it easy to forgive but you choose to do it simply because Jesus has asked you.
3. Worship as a family. Play worship CDs. Let them see you and be a part of authentic family worship.
4. Let your children join in with your quiet times. So often we want to close the door and have time on our own with Jesus. If you want to do this then go out or do it when they are out. When they are with you however and you are in Jesus’ presence (this often happen in worship at church too) your children will want to climb on you and be close to you – because you are close to Jesus – they don’t want to miss out. So rather than push them away plan for them to be there. Let them sit on your lap and read the scriptures out loud so that they hear them too – it really doesn’t matter if they understand or not. Let them sit on your lap or color in a picture next to you while you pray. Ask them if they have anything on their hearts they would like to pray for.
5. As our children get older we need to seek their opinions. Read scriptures and discuss. Don’t be afraid if they bring up controversial topics or question things you want them to simply accept. As they process these things for themselves they will become convictions of their own heart.
6. Pray, pray and pray. They will want to know what the world is about, they will want to see if what you are talking about is genuine and this is all good. As once again they are trying and testing their own faith instead of piggy backing on yours.
7. Pray for wisdom as to when to when you need them to obey you in all things and when to slacken and let them find their own way.
8. Learn the art of giving them space to make mistakes and solve problems on their own – all the while you actually know everything that is going on and are able to jump in and rescue them if they not coping.
9. Spend time together, listen to and consider their options.
10. View them as people who have their own personalities, thoughts and opinions. We’ve always said that dad does have the final say on matters but as a family we all have a say as to how we feel regarding family decisions. This trust in their father and their father in them – to be a part of the workings as a family – grows their trust in their Heavenly Father too.
There are no guaranties in life but our Heavenly Father says to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart form it.” So let us train him up in ways that draw him to the heart of Jesus through our relationship with our children and with Jesus.