Skills for two of the most important roles in life are developed after we have already entered the relationship. On-the-job training is the norm for both marriage and parenting.
Some of us had good examples of parenting modeled before us. Others had terrible models. I had a mixture. When I became a parent, I found the overwhelming responsibility overridden by pure joy.
How many of us felt we could not measure up to the standards set by our parents – we were never good enough at music, art or sports? Do negative comments keep popping up in your mind? That is preventable in your relationship with your own children. Don’t say anything untrue, but every positive action can prompt a compliment from you. “I really enjoyed hearing you practice the piano,” is better than “You played that piece perfectly.”
Raising children is a bit like growing an orchid. One expert said growing an orchid requires experience, education and to be preventive in respect to problems. In raising children, add a great deal of nurturing, time and love.
As a Christian, I tried to find guidelines given in scripture. These are some of the ideas that came out of that study.
Life is tough. Children need someone to lean on, to count on. Children need to learn how to handle difficulties while at home. It prepares them to handle the challenges of the outside world.
Although you should be the primary teacher in your child’s life, many others are also training him: teachers, neighbors, people at church. Some reinforce your training. Some do not. It is easy for a child to be confused. Lead by example and your child will see the difference. If you tell your child not to lie, but you lie, he will not trust you nor will you be able to adequately comfort him when he encounters trials in his life. It is important that you let your child know you also need God and His comfort – you are a sinner and you also need His guidance.
Accept your child for who he is. His personality may be the opposite of yours. God gave your child his personality, his temperament. Your job is to help him build his character. He needs to know you respect him.
A child who knows he is loved and accepted will be able to take the discipline necessary to mold his character. Reinforcing positive behavior often prevents the need for discipline. If he makes his bed (even if it is not as you would have done), take note of it. Don’t remake the bed. If he is careful to watch after a sibling, say something about it. Praise goes a long way with a child.
The Bible is life’s operating manual and a parenting guidebook. Humans are tri-dimensional: physical, mental, spiritual. Some parents make sure their children are nourished physically, send them to school to get education, but leave the spiritual until they can make the decision for themselves. God makes it clear He expects parents to be in charge of their spiritual development. There is no greater calling.
Each generation can make known Your faithfulness to the next (Isaiah 38:19). Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward (Psalm 127:3).