I’ve been listening to a parenting series that my church has made available.
We are members of The Village Church in Flower Mound (Flo Mo… for those who are super cool) and I continually find myself blessed by this church in areas I’m not even searching for advice or wisdom or guidance. What I mean is, specifically, this parenting class was simply posted online for download by anyone. I’m not a parent and I am NOT expecting to be anytime soon (got that - this is NOT an announcement) but I figured the best time to learn is when you aren’t desperate. So I embarked on listening to this series without any expectations really. I do already have a lot of opinions about raising kids as I have worked in church nurseries and baby sat and observed various techniques for raising kids.
I have always been intimidated at the task of raising children and the reality that you can’t control their hearts or choices or outcome that you can only shepherd and lead. I have known and watched many Godly parents of rebellious children and on the flip side seen so many children who grow up to love the Lord when they never had parents guide them in that direction. I have no point in this – only that it is scary to me and trusting the Lord in raising children has to be the ultimate test of faith.
The thing that I have most respected about this series is they aren’t giving you set parameters that must be met in order to be a good parent and to raise good children. They have focused on mostly one concept as the core focus for parenting and that is “parent for the future”. Or as their slogan goes, “Begin with the End in Mind”. I love that they “intentionally” parent as a couple. They talk about sitting down as parents and setting goals for how you want your child to be as a member of the family and as an adult.
It’s safe to say I desire my child to be successful at managing a budget, a decision maker, someone who can adapt, someone who takes on responsibility knowing their decisions affect others. So if I have those as long term goals how do I parent now? Do I buy everything my child wants when they want it, just to make a trip at the store easier? No. I could, for example, give them an allowance, for them to save and to spend on the things they really want while I provide the things they really need.
The thing I have heard the loudest and clearest from the whole series so far is that I need to set expectations, make them known, and follow up appropriately based on if they are met or not. (I can't expect my child to obey as I want them to if I haven't set an expectation for what that looks like)
A really interesting part that was talked about was age appropriate chores or tasks. I was really surprised at the list in some age groups and especially that it began at 9 months. I do realize this is based on the ability of each child… but that is also the beauty of it.
Here is the reference tasks: Family ROI link ... pretty cool I thought
Two other points that I have taken away as very important are:
1. Eye contact and verbal response: Creating a “roll play” where the appropriate response is known at an early age sets the expectations for how you are to respond when Mom or Dad is giving an expectation.
So it went something like this:
Mom: “Susie, look at Mom.” – get on eye level when really little.
Mom: “Susie, I want you to ….” “Ok Susie?”
Susie: “Ok, Mom”
So now Susie has agreed to obey and if she doesn’t do what she said she would do then there are consequences. This is putting the obedience and burden on the child to obey, not the parents to keep them in line. Also, it sets the stage for a teenager or adult to submit their will to God because as young children they have submitted their will to their parents. But it was of their doing not your forcing.
2. The Yes Mom or No Mom, Yes Dad or No Dad. I already know that I will be a No Mom and Phil will be a Yes Dad, that’s a given. I lean toward judgment and Phil leans toward compassion. In a lot of ways I think that is why we make a good team. In this though I know that I need to watch my amount of harshness and extend grace even when my response initially is not to. I think I’m going to need to find a good female mentor for this when the time comes for us to have kids.
I guess the best part of the series is just recognizing (being reminded) that children are God’s – always God’s. When you are blessed with children you are blessed with God’s child and you are given the responsibility to raise them and teach them of God not so they mind you but so they become adults who submit their will to God. You as the parent are just a vessel not the owner of these children, too often we lean toward entitlement.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
One last thought. Several times the speakers of this parenting class reminded the listeners that they are giving tips for a way to parent. Tips, techniques. These are not The Way. Only God is The Way and if it is not commanded in the Bible then it is not The Way, it is just a way which I think is a great reminder to all of us especially parents and Moms. I too often hear “opinions” of a mom on the way to do something; (i.e. naptime, diapers, food, or spanking) and they speak as though if you do it any other way YOU ARE CRAZY. Well just because it works for one family DOESN’T mean it will work for all and it doesn’t mean if you do it another way your children will be ruined.
He has shown thee, oh man what is good; and what the Lord requires of thee. To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God. Micah 6:8