A friend recently shared the article 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church – it’s a good article and worth the read, yet I still felt like something fell a teeny tiny bit flat. Clearly there is no perfect formula as at times the best families have children that leave the faith and conversely, some really dysfunctional families have kids that grow into great leaders in the faith.
I am also not saying Sam & I have parented perfectly. Far from it. Our kids can each vouch for that. It’s by the Grace of God we have 3 amazing kids. See.
The article did get me thinking and pondering again about what my top top parenting tips would be. Again, I have found my top tips have greatly evolved and have simplified over the years. I’ve decided it’s easier, for the most part, than we think at the time. We get so bogged down in minutia and tend to forget to keep the main thing the main thing.
*The main thing: Be an example. Not perfect, but an example. LIVE your faith out in front of your kids, in front of your spouse, in front of strangers, in front of your kid’s friends, in front of your neighbors. See where I’m going with this? I’ve always loved this quote from the music group, DC Talk – “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Now if your first thought is, I disagree with that being the ‘single greatest cause,’ then you’ve missed my point. My point is, hypocrisy is detrimental to great parenting. Really detrimental. If I could pick one and only one ‘top tip’ it would be this one. *This is the best way to disciple. (my opinion.)
Numbers 2, 3 & 4 are really subcategories of ‘the main thing.’
Choose to lavish your children with (2) unconditional love. Let them know in words and in tangible ways that NOTHING they could ever do would make you love them less and NOTHING they could ever do would make you love them more. Doing this introduces them to Christ in ways that fire & brimstone would never ever do. I’m not advocating no discipline or consequences, but discipline & consequences within this context looks a whole lot different.
(3) Show and lavish Grace to your children. Simply put, give to your children what they may not deserve. With children there are so many opportunities for this. 🙂 Really, with everyone we come in contact with in life there are opportunities to freely give Grace…. no strings attached.
(4) Show and lavish Mercy. Go easy on the punishments. Don’t make idle threats of ridiculous consequences. Pick carefully your battles & just let a lot of stuff go. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Really. If you read into this one that I’m saying spoil your child, then you’ve missed my point.
Lastly, (5) pray. Pray that God works in your heart. Thank God for His unconditional love, His Grace & His Mercy. Pray for a full & clear understanding of who God is and in that way you will be a light in your child’s life that will draw her/him toward Christ.