faith

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.