“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Here God commands Israelite to teach their children diligently by being a good model. Teaching can be achieved by instruction, but it can be done more effectively by setting a good example. Children will learn from the parents when they sit in their house, walking, lying down and rising up. They learn from every word, gesture, and movement that we make.
Most of us want our children to grow up having the faith in our Lord, just as we have. However, sometimes the HOW eludes us. I would like to share with you practices that you as parents can habituate, so that your children can grow up serving the Lord and live a purposeful and abundant life.
“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
It goes without saying that most Christian parents pray for their children. We pray as congregation of a church during worship and sometimes we pray alone in the quietness of solitude. We pray loudly as a group or by ourselves, pouring out our hearts and we, also, pray in silence.
Indifference of the style, the Scripture says to pray without ceasing. How can we pray continuously? Praying to God does not have to at church or at home only. Everyone can pray to God anywhere and anytime. For example, while commuting to work, we can pray. Obviously, we will not have our eyes closed, but we are communicating with God.
Even in our sleep we can be praying. Many people used by God communicated with God during their sleep. God told Solomon that he will be given wisdom, power, and wealth through the dream. God spoke to Jacob in the middle of desert while he was a sleep. If we are spiritually strong, then we will be able to hear God, even in our sleep and thus we will be connected to Him all the time.
What should we be praying for? Pertaining to our children, we should pray for their health, wisdom, study, career, future spouse, and most importantly that they will grow in faith. The faith that will allow them to endure the temptations of the world and put them in leadership position, so that they are leading people to Jesus.
2. Prepare to become a Good Model
“in all things showing yourself to be pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” – Titus 2:7 – 8
The second step is to prepare early. Even before the conception of a child, make good practices a habit, like reading and having worship at home. Additionally, these good habits are not only for the child, but will benefit ourselves. I will speak in more details about good habits below.
Why start so early, because you have to make these good practices a habit. Children learn from their parents. It is said that what children learn in first 3 years is equivalent to what an adult will learn in 60 years. For more detail, please refer to my article on “Early Childhood Training – Child’s Brain …” Unless we make these good practices a habit, we will not be effective as models of our children.
“… but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
During their early years, children mimic everything that parents say and do. Therefore, if you want the children to behave in certain way, then you must behave the same. These good behaviours can not be shown with insincerity. Children will eventually figure out whether we are sincere or not.
Being a role model is not easy, especially with the first born child. Thus, preparing beforehand is important. Additionally, if you have nephews and nieces, learn to be good model to them as if they were your own. Practicing allows improving on our mistakes.
One of the good habits to teach children is reading. Reading words develop imagination, which in turn, enhances creativity. Also, it expands knowledge and vocabulary, improves memory, strengthens writing ability, and more.
Development of reading habit should start early as during pregnancy. Reading to the unborn child will have numerous benefits but mostly, it will make the teaching to read be an easier transition when the child is born. When a child is born read to them until, they can start to read and allow them to read to you. Please refer to my article on “Reading – Lost Art of Learning.”
Second good habit is home devotion. These habits should also start early so the parents can make it a habit. Worshipping at home brings forth many benefits. For example, it strengths our Spirit, so we are leading a spiritually lead life, not a carnal life. In addition, it gives a strong message to children that parent practice what they preach. Telling the children to pray and worship the Lord will be much more effective, if we practice at home each day.
Thirdly, it is good to show the struggles of life as well as the triumphs. We, as parents, often try to hide our struggles from our children, but sharing the struggles with children builds perseverance as we overcome our troubles. Also, it helps to build faith in God, as children see the parent remain faithful during trials. However, be careful not to show extreme emotions like anger due to frustration. This can have undesirable consequences.
3. Unselfish Love
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1
Unless there is genuine and selfish love, our instructions will be just noise to the children. Dr. James Dobson wrote about Dr. Stanley Coopersmith’s study done on 1,738 middle-class children and their families over a number of years. Dr. Coopersmith identified 3 important differences between the families of children with high self-esteem and those with low self-esteem.
First, the high-esteem children were clearly more loved and appreciated at home.
Second, surprisingly, the high-esteem group came from homes where parents had been significantly more strict in their approach to discipline. By contrast, the parents of the low-esteem group had created insecurity and dependence by their permissiveness.
Third, the homes of the high-esteem group were also characterized by democracy and openness. Once the boundaries for behaviour were established, there was freedom for individual personalities to grow and develop.
Unselfish love balanced with discipline will build children’s character, enhance their self-esteem, and help them learn to be responsible for themselves.
4. Christian School
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
When a child is of school age, enrol him/her into a Christian school. If you leave your children in public school system, where their curriculum is based on evolution, it will cause confusion to the child. Parents teaching him that the Bible is the truth versus the school teaching her that the Bible is not entirely true. As he/she grows in public school system, many grow to accept what the school teaches him/her. Barna Research states that only 3 out of 10 young people who grow up with a Christian background stay faithful to the church during the transition from teen to adulthood. That means 7 out of 10 kids from the church drop out of church.
Christian school will cost more and it may require other sacrifices from the parent(s). But aren’t any sacrifices worth it for our children. Please review my article on “Why Early Christian Education is Important” to further understand the importance of Christian education.
5. Be a Good Listener
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” – James 1:19
As children grow up, the only true source to their secret desires would come from them directly. Parents/children relationship should be strong and close enough to share their desires and dreams. In order for this to occur, there must be mutual trust between the children and parents.
To build a trust so that children will speak with parents, is to listen without being judgmental. It is easy to judge what our children are telling us and give quick advice. Parents must tame such urge, because they will not listen our advises and will drive them further away from the parents.
Listen to them, no matter how ridiculous they seem. Just listening to them completely without becoming emotion and interrupting will go long way in solidifying the relationship with our children, especially teenagers.
Many teenagers will share their inner secrets with their friends, but not with their parents for 2 reasons: embarrassment, lack of trust. If your children are sharing their deep desires with their friends, then, danger of it depends on the type of friend that they are sharing it with.
6. Help with Career Choices
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” – 2 Timothy 1:6
As our average life span increases, we are working longer, so it is very crucial that career choice is absolutely right. Many make poor selection of career and end up despising going to work each day. This leads to lot of stress.
Presently, choosing the right career is complicated by speed of change in the industry. There are so many new jobs now than what we have seen in the past. Industry experts used to say that in 20 years, there will be doubled the amount of new careers. I would imagine that may even be more now. I discuss in detail about choosing a right career in my article “Christian Parenting – Guiding Your Child to Successful Career“.
Many teenagers grow up not knowing what they will be doing as career. In the above Bible verse, Apostle Paul, who was a father figure to Timothy, is giving advice to use the talents that God has given Timothy. This helped Timothy to lead a life of teaching the Gospel. It is up to the parent to give guidelines using the child’s talents and interest to choose the right vocation. By observing the child’s talent and interest and with fervent prayer, parents lead their children into life that is purposeful and rewarding.
7. Pass on the Legacy to the Next Generation
“And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.” – Luke 1:50
How do we get our descendants to live a life ‘that fear Him’, so that “His mercy” is upon them? What will be the legacy that we will pass on to our children, so that they will pass on to their children and so on?
Many parents look upon the role of the provider and think leaving inheritance of wealth to their children. We have seen and heard that wealth often does more harm then good to our children. It seems that richer the wealth inheritance, the more corrupt and devastated the life of the children become.
Educating our children is very good inheritance that we can leave our children. However, knowledge without spiritual discernment can make a being that leads people away from God. Darwinism would be a prime example.
As Christian parents, the most importance inheritance that we can leave for our children is our faith. The faith that brings peace into our hearts during the time of trouble. The faith that brings tears of joy when we worship the Lord. It is this faith that will navigate our children through the difficult times and come out victorious.
More on leaving a legacy of faith, please read my article titled “Christian Parenting – Legacy that We Leave Behind.”
“And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.” – Titus 2:7
Our children are precious gift from God and we are stewards of His children while here on earth. We have responsibility to raise them to learn to fear God. This can be accomplished through preparing our selves to practice good habits, so that we become an great example for them to follow.