When our first came along, we’d fall exhausted into bed at night wondering how people with two managed.
Then we had two.
Okay, I got this. Divide and conquer. It’s two-on-two.
Then #3 arrived and we were out numbered!
As our family grew, however, so did we. I like to tell couples just starting out that having kids is like going skiing for the first time. The first moment you face the Bunny Slope, it’s overwhelming and a face-plant seems all but certain. But, then you master it and move on. You get better. Your skill increases. You learn. Before too long, you’re shredding the Black Diamond runs.
Okay, so maybe we’re not “shredding” our way through parenting but what once seemed daunting before too long becomes “everyday”. And it’s right here, in that familiar place of “day in and day out” that we parents need to take stock.
Life’s demands have a way of getting parents to focus on the functionality of their families. Are we keeping the wheels on the wagon? Pretty much. But, there’s something so much more important than making sure dinner is on the table at the right time, landing that next business deal, or that the music and sports lessons are attended punctually.
Relationship is What Matters
Strip it all down and your relationship with your child is what matters – this person God entrusted to you to nurture, love, and raise. In any given day, your relationship with your child should trump all the busyness life throws at you.
Do you have a good (open, loving) relationship with your children?
What is the nature of the relationship you have with each one of your kids? Have you taken stock? Have you asked yourself that question?
Is your relationship with your children marked by gentleness, love, and genuine interest? Do your children respect you? I’m not asking if they fear you and give way to your power, but do they respect your character and yield to you from a willing, open heart?
How can we build strong, loving, secure relationships with our children?
Understand the Unique Personhood of Your Child
As simple and straight-forward as it is, when it comes to their kids, many parents miss the most basic element of building trust with another person – respecting and valuing a child as a unique, distinct expression of God’s creativity.
For many parents they’re just, “the kids,” not separate, interesting, unique individuals to get to know well on a personal level. We’re raising little people, not herding sheep – an easy (and common) mistake to make, but it causes kids to feel they are not valued for who they are. Do you want the deep relationship God desires that you have with your children? I encourage you to remind yourself often: Each one of my children is a distinct person with his/her own personality, gifts, abilities, and interests – a unique creation of God.
Here are some suggestions for communicating your understanding of your children’s innate value as individual people:
- I like the person you are becoming
- I think you have interesting ideas
- You are a very special person
- I love your personality
These are just a few ideas but, the point is to embrace the separate, wonderful personhood of each child – to see them as people – and to communicate that you see them in this way.
Parents Who Don’t Exasperate Their Kids
The Scriptures tell fathers, “don’t provoke your children to anger” Ephesians 6:4. This admonition applies equally to mothers. Essentially, this Scripture is talking about our approach to discipline and correction.
Have you ever considered why parents need to be told not to anger their children? It’s because the Holy Spirit knows the inclination of our flesh. Anger and discipline too often go together in the Christian home.
If done with harshness, hardness in the heart of a child is the result of our correction. Godly discipline doesn’t include harshness and shouldn’t be administered for punishment’s sake, which provokes kids to anger. Discipline, while never pleasant, should be administered in the spirit of gentleness (how gentle is God with us, Dad & Mom?) and for the sake of training in righteousness – God’s purposes.
Parents Who Encourage Their Kids
Did you encourage your child today?
Thinking positive thoughts about your kids isn’t the same as taking the time to speak positively into their lives. Did you stop in the busyness of your day and say something positive, encouraging, and uplifting to your child . . . with no strings attached?
You’re a parent. That means you’re tired, busy, stressed, behind, etc.
It also means there is someone in your life hungry to know:
- he/she’s okay
- is doing a good job
- will make it
- is valued just because he/she’s present
- is approved of
- is a joy to be around
- that you like him/her
What could be easier than saying something encouraging? So, again, have you encouraged your kid today? (need suggestions, CLICK HERE)
In the early years, the results of our neglect of the personhood of our child, our anger in correction, and our lack of encouragement are masked, but the Law of the Harvest will eventually prevail: Whatever you plant grows. Parents who neglect cultivating a genuine, open, loving relationship with their young children typically discover that they, themselves, are neglected later in life.
God bless you as you endeavor to understand and respect the unique personhood of each of your children, discipline in gentleness, and seek to be the Encourager in Chief in your children’s lives. You’ll enjoy the love of your children now and the richness of seasoned friendship later in life that God has for every parent who loved well the children He entrusted to them.
(If you enjoyed this post, I’d certainly appreciate it if you would share it with your friends)
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).