Fathers, [and mothers] do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NLT, my addition)
Today I am celebrating! Thirty-five years ago God gave me a gift that truly was more than I ever could have asked or imagine – two children!
Whether we are biological parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, grandparents, or mentors, we are the key component in God’s Plan A for teaching and raising children. About one week after giving birth to these twins, I was convinced I was not ready or able to be a parent. But there was no Plan B.
I wish I had been then where I am now in my relationship with God. Relying on God’s precepts and turning to Him when life with children throws a knuckle ball I could not possibly hit would have been better than “winging it” like I did. I have apologized to my now grown children for not being the parent I could have been. Earlier this week God was speaking to me about honoring parents. I believe children learn how to honor their parents from their parents. My children learned from my trials and failures.
Respect. Children should know that their parents will really listen to them and care what they are thinking. They should have their own space, however small. Their toys and clothes are their first “property” and they should be taught how to care for them.
And children watch us closely to see how we speak and treat our own parents and each other. Actions truly speak louder than our words. Telling our children to speak and act one way while we speak and act differently is a formula for failure.
Love. Do my children know I love them? Do I tell them? That is important. Do I also tell them by attending their activities and helping with homework? A good reason for family dinners around the table is to spend time listening to my children! When discipline is necessary, do I act, not in anger, but with wisdom? Do the consequences fit the situation and am I consistent no matter how tired I am? Here is where I really could have used prayer when my children were young. My language to them was too often cutting and humiliating. In this I failed them in both respect and love.
Example. Good and bad, we are the example for our children. Psalm 78 tells us how important it is for us to share the stories of God, His power and deeds, with the next generation so they won’t be stubborn and disobedient as we have been. This is not just the example we set for our children and grandchildren but how we teach and show respect and love to every child of God.
God is watching us closely to see how we care for our children, His children. If you are in a fellowship and you wonder why it isn’t growing, I believe if we are not making children and young people our #1 priority for outreach and care, but instead putting our own ‘comfort’ ahead for them – then the fellowship will die! Jesus was clear how important children are and Proverbs speaks about the importance of children and how God hates those who spill innocent blood (Proverbs 6).
Each of my children, in their own way, has taught me about faith and love and courage. I am grateful to God for raising them to be the extraordinary adults they are and how they are leaning on God to raise their own children. Thank You, LORD, for allowing me to be a part of their lives. It has truly been an extravagant gift that keeps on giving!
Watching You written & sung by Rodney Atkins