Life At Its Best: Keys of effective parenting
Recently, I Googled "advice on parenting" and found more than 146 million results - more than the number of kids living in America today. You don't have to look hard to find advice on this subject.
But in listening to all of this advice, we should be careful not to lose sight on what's most important - the specific roles God designed for parents to fill. In Psalms 128, God gives us three main focus points that will help us to parent well.
The first is attention. In the Bible, God refers to our kids as plants because, like plants, they can't thrive on neglect. They need someone to pay attention to their heart and help to provide it with what it needs.
In other words, they need us to make time with them a priority. I love what Dr. James Dobson says about this, "Nothing destroys family life more than hectic schedules. If Satan can't make you sin, he'll make you busy. And that's about the same."
So, do something fun together, but remember, the important thing isn't what you do, it's that you give them your full attention while doing it. Use your time together to get in tune with their hearts and fill them with the love they need.
The second focus point is affection. God gives us a clear picture of what the environment of our homes should look like in Ephesians 6:2-4, when he says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord ... Honor your father and mother ... so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
Notice, that the expectation in this verse is not perfection but honor. God designed our home to be a place where our children learn to honor us as we, in turn, honor the Lord. No one should be expected to be perfect. Instead, we must choose to love and support each other as we strive to obey God together.
Lastly, good parenting should focus on the discipline of our children. The Bible says that discipline is a sign of love, but as we all know, kids don't always take it that way. The key to disciplining your child effectively is to not do so without using the other focus points first.
If our kids feel a lack of attention or affection, they will usually reject our discipline. But when we show them that discipline is an extension, rather than an absence, of our love, they will be more accepting of our guidance.
So, if you want to become a better parent, take God's advice, the advice that really matters. Give your child proper attention, affection and discipline, and you'll grow them into the awesome person God's calling them to be.
Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.