Parenting

Some Parenting Tips Pastor Dan has learned from almost 30 years of Parenting

By: Dan Seale

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What does it say that after 27 years of parenting, I attended a parenting seminar a couple of weeks ago?  It says, “I am still learning as a parent and I am not an expert nor will I ever be.”  Each parent, each child, and each family system are unique, and there is no one size fits all formula or method.  Above all else, I want my children to know and follow Jesus. I have prayed that  Psalm. 73:26 would be the cry of my children’s hearts.   Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  I offer my parenting tips with the hope that they help water and fertilize the soil of our children’s hearts so that God’s Spirit will make this prayer become a reality.

1)     Parent out of hope not fear.

Yes, the world can be a scary, dangerous place.  When we parent out of fear, we tend to try to control circumstances and our children.  This rarely works out well in the long run.  As they get older, you realize you have less and less control over them and their environment.  So usually, instead of trusting God, you only grip tighter and tighter. 

Accept you are not in control, but God is; so quit trying to control your child and his/her/their world.

Our confidence in parenting must be in the promises and presence of God.  God is at work accomplishing His purposes. (Romans 8:28-29).  He is our Creator, King and Savior (Colossians 1). He alone can change the hearts of people, including our children.   Therefore, we should not fear.  Too often our minds are consumed by what could happen and worst-case scenarios. In those moments, we must cling to the promises of God – that He is with his people, for his people (Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 13:5).  In the midst of some of our hardest challenges as parents, Debbi and I would constantly remind one another, The story isn’t over.  This isn’t the last chapter.  God is at work.  We can trust him with our lives and with our children’s lives.

 

2)     Parent out of weakness not strength.

The best thing I can do for my children is show them my sin and weakness and my need to be rescued and strengthened by Jesus.  That means I should ask their forgiveness when I sin against them or in front of them. I need to admit that what I did was wrong and not excuse my sin.   Also, parenting out of weakness means that I recognize I can’t parent my children to Jesus or to success in this life.  Therefore, I need to pray to the living God to work in the lives of my children.  It is easy to only pray when circumstances are bad, and we clearly see what is always true – we are not in control.

 

3)     Parent in community not in isolation.

We are not meant to live the Christian life alone, and we are not meant to parent alone.  We need to take advantage of God’s gift, the church, to help us in parenting.  Surround your children with other adults who love Jesus and who will love them.  I am thankful for the many adults who have befriended my daughters.  They have served and some continue to serve as confidants.  My daughters felt free to ask them questions they may have struggled to ask us and share struggles. Yes, I know many of you want the type of relationship that your child will tell you everything and ask you anything.  That may happen for a few. However, even if that does happen, you want other adults speaking the same truth into their lives.  This will ultimately strengthen their faith because it’s not just mom and dad talking about Jesus.  They will see that others believe these same life-changing truths and love Jesus.  These relationships won’t form themselves.  We intentionally invited people into our home to share meals and play games with us and our children so they had time to build connections.  Additional connections were built with their Sunday School teachers and youth group small group leaders.  Let your children be influenced by other godly followers of Jesus. Invite someone over to dinner this week.

 

4)     Parent by example not merely by words.

If you want your child to pursue Jesus, then you must pursue Jesus.

If you want your child to love and value the people of God, the church, then you must model that love and commitment. 

If you want your child to love and respect their mom or dad, then you should model loving your spouse. 

If you want your child to be a helper and servant, then model sacrifice and servanthood.

What are you modeling to your children that you love and live for?

Your actions teach your children far more than your words.  One of my great sorrows in life is when I see my sin reflected in my children. I never intentionally said to follow my sin, but they caught what I modeled, positive and negative.

 

Bottom line – the best things you can do for your children as a parent are …

  • Love Jesus and pursue spiritual growth among the people of God, the church.

  • Love your spouse and model forgiveness and sacrifice in daily life.

This is assuming you are not a single parent.  If you are divorced, then how you treat your ex can model the Gospel in powerful ways.

 

I will pray for you and I hope you will pray for me that we will increasingly parent not by fear but by faith in the power and presence of God as we actively pursue Him.

There are countless good books out there and some bad ones.  Here are two books and some audios that if you synthesize them, will give you a solid biblical foundation for parenting.

 

Parenting by Faith not by Formula by Julie Lowe

Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Big Picture Parenting or Just Good enough Parenting by John Cox

Parenting Tips that Could Change Your Life…and Ideas on Helping Your Anxious Child

By: Dan Seale

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Parenting Tips that could change your life…and ideas on helping your anxious child

If that is not click bait, I am not sure what is.  However, I do think there are some potentially game-changing and potentially life-changing ideas about parenting in this article.

First, take a minute and put in writing your expectations and description of the ideal Christian home. Now, give me some examples of families like that in the Bible.

Julie Lowe posed that question recently at her parenting conference, Childproof: Parenting by Faith not Formula. Someone responded, “Well, Joseph’s family. He learned to forgive.”  Julie responded, “Would you want to be a part of that family?”  Everyone laughed because no one wanted to be part of that dysfunctional family.  Then there was a long silence.  Her point was well taken. Nowhere do we find a family that would meet today’s expectations of what an ideal Christian home should look like.  So, what happens when what you are given is less than ideal?

Does your picture of the ideal keep you from understanding and loving your actual family?

Julie did a great job of pointing us to pursue biblical wisdom, seeking to know our children individually so we can guide and shepherd them towards their Father in heaven. What I loved about her approach to parenting is its foundational reliance upon God to work in the lives of parents and children to accomplish His purposes.  I highly commend her book to you, Childproof: Parenting by Faith not Formula.

 

Here are a few helpful quotes/ideas from the seminar to consider: 

Some of these I believe could be life-changing for you and your children.

·       Our goal in parenting is not success but faithfulness to God.

·       How do we know how to love and raise our children well? We look to the One who is our Father.

·       We are not in charge of the outcome. That is God’s job.

·       Our kids are not our trophies.

·       Our children are moral responders, and I cannot control them.

·       Too often we use guilt and shame to modify our children’s external behavior.

·       Great freedom and great responsibility come with giving up an ideal and choosing to know your family.

·       We don’t do fair with our children; we do what is good and right for each one of them as individuals uniquely made by God.

·       There are places inside a child’s head and heart that we cannot go.  There are places only God can reach.

·       Require yourself to be what you desire your children to be.

·       When children learn to find identity in Christ, it does not negate the struggle of their experiences, but it creates a grid through which children can make sense of life – not only make sense, but accurately make sense out of life.

 

Bonus article: Helping Your Anxious Child by Julie Lowe

 

Next week, I’ll share my personal tips on parenting gained from almost 3 decades of parenting, 25 years of pastoring, reading lots of books and making countless mistakes along the way.  My mistakes were often the best teachers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace for Parenting and All of Life's Callings

By: Brad Rogers

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Parenting can be a daunting task to say the least.  Every time one of our children has a birthday, Rachel and I look at each other and say, “Well, we did it, we kept her (or him) alive another year.”  If you are a follower Christ, sometimes parenting can feel like an added burden.  You can feel the pressure of the call to grow and nurture your child in the admonition of the Lord.  You want your child to follow Jesus, and yet, you don’t want to control them either (at least not in your good moments).  You know you have responsibilities to help them know Jesus, but you can feel like you can’t even help them tie their shoe, eat all their food (or eat the right food), get them to bed on time, or engage them in a decent conversation much less point them to Jesus in all of life. This is where we must remember grace.  Specifically, we need to be aware of God’s empowering and equipping grace.  Parents, I invite you to watch this to 2-minute video from Paul Tripp for some encouragement regarding the grace that enables us to fulfill our role as parents faithfully.  While this video is particularly geared toward parents, the grace spoken of in the video is the same grace God grants all Christ-followers in each and every God-given calling we have. 

Click here to watch the video

Family Gatherings, Graduation Parties, and Graduation Plans

By: Sean Scott

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This past Sunday we acknowledged quite a few graduating seniors at Redeemer. That means a lot of graduation plans, finding tickets for family, planning parties, and not to mention, remembering to not trip on stage as they receive their diploma. It is also a big time of transition for parents. I can only imagine what it must be like for our seniors’ parents seeing their child standing tall on graduation day while simultaneously having the images of their baby in their arms for the first time after they were born.

 

I am a brand new parent, and maybe that’s why I have paid such close attention to our families as they have approached and are navigating through this season of change. It’s hard not to dream and imagine what our daughter will be like, what she would have accomplished by the time she graduated high school. I have prayed for our families with graduates, that they would hold on to the promises of God that he has them in their hands, that his plans for their lives are far better than anything they could have come up with themselves.

 

As I was doing some reading on the subject, I stumbled across an article from Melissa Kruger on The Gospel Coalition. I had to stop reading after the first paragraph my first time around, unable to make out the computer screen through tears. But I came back to the article because I realized Kruger wasn’t simply attempting to make the reader cry. She has processed her feelings and opened herself up in vulnerability to write about this stage of life. The article is titled “Graduation: Grief and Gratitude,” and she captures her experience in a succinct yet helpful way.

 

Even if you are not a parent, your children are too young to say the word diploma, or have grandkids, give this article a read. There is good wisdom about not only philosophy of parenting, but how to process bittersweet transitions in life. I feel encouraged having read this article, that the Lord uses such transitional periods to bring himself glory because often, we find ourselves with no options but to run to him for comfort in the face of our grief, as well as overflow with joy as we express our gratitude for the ways he has shaped and molded these precious children.

 

Here is just a sample of Kruger’s words:

 

“I haven’t just lost my cuddly baby with chunky thighs and infectious laughter. I’ve gained a daughter taller than myself with a heart for Jesus that overflows to every person she meets. While we used to look at her in wonderment of what she’d become, we now look at her in amazement of who she is—which happens to be a much kinder person in every way than either of her parents. We fully recognize that what her genetic code didn’t offer her, the Spirit produced in beautiful ways.”

Read the rest of the article here

 

 

Raising Teenage Girls

By: Brad Rogers

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I distinctly remember trying to read our ultrasound technician’s face to know the moment she could tell the gender of our baby.  Rachel and I knew we would be happy with a boy or a girl; and in all of our conversations, Rachel never indicated a preference one way or the other – at least not that I can remember. However, for me, I knew deep down I had a slight leaning towards a boy because I envisioned playing catch in the back yard with him and coaching his sports teams.  I have no idea if I have ever admitted this before now.  Then, I saw just the slightest change of expression on the face of our technician and quickly confirmed, once again, that we indeed wanted to know our baby’s gender.  She then let us know that “It’s a girl.”  I was excited, hoping that this girl would wrap me around her finger. But, all of our previous conversations had not prepared me for Rachel’s clear, yet not drastic disappointment.  Seeing I wanted an explanation from her she said, “She’s going to be a teenager.”  I was dumbfounded.  Our daughter was 19 weeks away from bursting forth into our world and I was concerned about changing diapers. Rachel was concerned about walking with her daughter through the troubled times of teenage life.  We had just gotten matching cell phones from Cingular wireless so there is no way we could anticipate just how complicated the teenage years might be for our daughter. Fifteen years have passed, and I now have the experience of several years of ministry working with teens.  These are trying times, but God and His truth about how we are to live still applies.  In this linked article, seasoned mom and biblically astute, Jen Wilkin offers much wisdom about entering into the lives of our teenage girls that we might help them navigate the drama that so often circles them.  She writes to help us lead our daughters into speaking the truth, owning sin, and asking for forgiveness. Whether you have teenage daughters, minister to them, love those who do, or are just looking to grow in these character traits and skills we should all seek to obtain and practice, this article is for you.

 

Read the article here.

 

We Can Learn from the College Admissions Scandal

By: Brad Rogers

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While it would be easy to decry “those people” involved in the current college admissions, for those of us with children, it’s a good time to reflect on our own parenting.  What are our goals for children?  In what ways are we working towards those goals?  In what ways might we be sabotaging our own goals?  For Christians, it’s always good to ask what heart idols (things I love more than God) might be submarining my parenting?  Might I have some of the same loves (idols) that those involved in the college admissions scandal are displaying?  Kara Powell clearly articulates what should be the goal of Christian parenting. In the linked article, which appeared in Christianity Today, she helps us answer some of the above questions and could help many of us set a new direction in our parenting or re-set a direction that has steered off course.  

You can read the article here.

It Takes a Church to Raise Our Children

By: Dan Seale

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As Debbi and I boarded the airplane for China we knew our children were in good hands, they were with our church family. We had entrusted our three daughters to our church family so we could meet and bring home our 4th daughter, AnGrace from China. This is one of thousands of times our church family has loved and cared for us and our daughters over the years. I am forever grateful to Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Knollwood Presbyterian Church and Crossroads Community Church for pointing my children to Jesus. Thank you.

It takes a church to raise our children to know and follow Jesus. No parent should be alone in this holy calling. The church can and should play a significant role in the spiritual formation of our children. Rachel Rogers shared this article with the staff and I want to share it with you because it so closely mirrors our personal experience. I hope this article will encourage those of you who are parents to be sure to welcome other adults into the lives of your children. I hope this article will encourage all of us to find a way to show and tell the children of Redeemer, Jesus is the one true Savior and He is worth loving, trusting, and following all the days of our lives. Remember, you are making an eternal impact through the way you love and serve our children at Redeemer. Keep up the good work and excel still more.

You can read the article here: The Church Loved My Daughter to Jesus by Scott Slayton

Bringing God into Everyday Conversation with Your Children

By: Brad Rogers

If you are a follower of Jesus with children in your home, you may find it difficult to bring the reality of who God is into everyday conversations with your children. I know I struggle in this area.  Sometimes, it is because I don’t want to force a conversation or say the wrong thing (yes, even as a minister I have this fear).  We can also fear the eye rolls and irritated disinterest our children may have.  However, on the flip side if we neglect to do this, we may unwittingly show our youngsters that following Jesus has very little impact in our daily life.  Not only may this lead to our children feeling God is irrelevant, it could also make it easier for them to believe that this God who they have never seen is a fantastical figment of our imaginations as they grow older.   In “Make ‘God talk’ an Everyday Part of Family Life,” Julie Melilli gives some ideas on how to bring the reality of God into everyday conversation with your children.  Admittedly, there are some aspects of her exact words that I think might feel like you are throwing God in your child’s face.  We do always need to be careful not to be overbearing and so exasperate our children.  We certainly don’t want to give them the felt impression that God commands us to be overbearing with our children, which we can do if we are sinfully disrespectful of their personhood (possibly without meaning to or realizing it) while telling them God commands us to be this way.  However, the idea of what she communicates is important.  A fear of being overbearing should not silence Christian parents all together on a topic we claim is of utmost importance in our lives.  As parents this is an important enough matter that we should be willing to be a little unnatural or awkward in bringing God into our conversations with our children until we become more natural.  Julie Melilli’s article could be the kickstart and encouragement you need.  If you are a Christian parent with children in your home, it is a fairly quick read that is worthy of your time.

Read the article here.

 

 

First Day Tears

By: Rachel Rogers

Watching my babies grow up into the school-aged children they are now has been both my greatest joy and my sorrow. I’ve often wondered at the squeezing in my heart every time a new milestone is reached. These milestones are times to celebrate, but why does my heart ache and why do my tears come? Babies crawl and then run, teeth fall out and braces go on, training wheels come off and backpacks go on…this is the way it is supposed to go, so why does my heart resist? Why do I long for those chubby cheeked toddler years while simultaneously declaring I would never go back? Why do I cry on the first day of school every year?

I am not sure what first drew me to Jen Wilken’s article, “The Truth About Pain in Childbearing.” My days of giving birth have come and gone and I don’t need to read someone else’s article to remember the pain!  But I love this article. She put words to feelings and ideas my heart has had but could not express.  “As the years unfold,” Jen says, “we begin to understand that we have been introduced to the great truth of pain in childbearing, a pain we naively believed would be confined to labor and delivery, but that visits us at every transition we nurture our children toward: the measured inhale, the steady exhale, the mighty push. And separation.” Apparently, I was one of the naive!

Jen goes on to describe simply and beautifully the profound sanctification process that every mother’s heart goes through as we welcome little ones and shepherd them through life’s transitions.  If, like me, you have ever swallowed tears at what should be happy moments, like the first day of school, this article is for you.  Read it here.