BY ASHLEY THABA
A COUPLE of weeks ago, my friend Christa Skipper began sharing some parenting encouragements with us. Today’s article continues with more practical tips of how to parent with the end in mind.
As parents, we need to be asking questions: What do I want my child to be like as a teenager and adult and how can I parent with that result in mind?
Prayer should be an important part of a family as we pray with our children and for our children. Be intentional about praying for your children specifically. What needs do your children have and what are you praying for God to do in their lives? When our children were young, it was hard to find a lot of time to sit and pray. They kept me busy. I would get frustrated every time I had to do laundry because I felt like there were 100 socks every time I washed. One day as I was washing and sorting socks, I realised that time could be spent praying for my children. As I picked up a sock, I would pray for that child. It turned a chore into a sweet time to pray specifically for each of my children. When can you pray for your children and how can you pray for them specifically?
We also pray intentionally with our children. When things go wrong for our children, our first instinct should tell us to pray with them and point them to God who can help and answer them. Pray out loud, pray regularly, and pray specifically for your children and what has gone wrong for them. Praise God for the great things that are happening to them, pray for their struggles and pray for their decisions. Teach them to turn to Jesus in prayer when they are in need. My son has been sick for a few months. Throughout this time we have been praying for him, but we also pray with him. On the days he was feeling bad, we stopped what we were doing to pray for him. Our other children also prayed out loud for their brother as we met in the evening as a family for prayer.
As we raise our children, we need to give them room to grow and opportunities to grow. When our children are young, we spoon feed them until they can eventually feed themselves.
The same is true in other areas of their lives, we spoon feed them and help them learn to do it on their own.
One principle we have used since our children were young is: don’t do anything for your children that they can do for themselves.
This started with small things like putting their shoes on, getting dressed, homework when they were in school, chores around the house, etc. As they got older, the principle applied to larger things such as going to get a job, making decisions about their future, making and saving money. This principle applies in their relationship with Jesus as well. When they are young, spoon feed them. Teach them and give God’s word to them. As they get older, teach them to start feeding themselves by reading the Bible and applying it. Ask them what it means for them and what God is teaching them.
Our children also grow by using their gifts and talents. Let them use their gifts to serve others and serve God. They are not too young to have an idea and to follow through in serving someone else. They are not too young to lead a Bible study time with your family and lead in prayer as they pray for your family and others.
A hard parenting principle is to let our children fail and let them learn from it. It is hard to watch our children make mistakes, but it is a necessary part of life and we can also watch our children grow from it. If we always step in and catch them before they fall, they will never learn how to fail and how to get up. Leave room for your children to grow, offer help when they need it and affirmation when it is done. Have conversations about what they learned from their mistakes and what they would do differently next time.
One of our sons had an accident and damaged someone else’s property a while ago. He didn’t mean to do it and felt terrible about it. As parents we had to make a choice either to help with paying for the damages or let it go? We knew that if we did that, our son would not grow from his mistake. We guided him, but he had to do the work. He had to make the calls to get the damage fixed and he had to work off his debt to pay for the damage. It was a hard lesson for him to learn, but one he grew from and will likely not repeat in the future. We never wanted to waste an opportunity for them to learn and grow from mistakes.
- Ashley Thaba is a life-coach, team-building facilitator and motivational speaker. She is also the author of Conquering the Giants and Dive In.