Of all the responsibilities you will ever have in this life, none is more critical than your responsibilities as a parent. The seeds we sow in our children’s lives will bear fruit for generations to come. The question is, “What kind of fruit will our parenting produce?”
Successful parents are mindful of the generational implications of parenting. Most of us think very little about our parenting. We have a plan for our business, and a plan for our vacation, but most of us have little or no plan for parenting. We just kind of make it up as we go along! In this culture, that is a recipe for disaster! If we are honest, most of us would have to admit that our parenting is more reactive than it is proactive. Rather than always being on the defensive, we need to go on the offensive. Rather than always reacting to the influences and temptations our children face, we need to anticipate them, so that we can head them off. And that involves understanding some the unique challenges our kids face in today’s culture.
Successful parents are students of both the Bible and culture. In fact, I believe that to be successful parent today we must be students of both our Bibles and of our culture. We need to become modern day “sons of Issachar.” We read about them in the Old Testament. We don’t know much about them, but what we do know is that they were very wise. 1 Chronicles 12:32 says that they “understood the times, and knew what Israel should do.” In other words, this ancient Israelite family understood the challenges of living in a deteriorating culture, and they had a plan for their family and their nation, not to merely survive in that culture, but to redeem it. As parents, we also need to have such a plan, because we too live in a deteriorating culture.
Successful parents have a specific goal in mind for their children. I think we can distill our goal as parents down to this: Our ultimate goal is to release our children to be dependent upon God and interdependent with others. And so as parents we need to begin with that goal in mind. With respect to our children, we need to consistently ask ourselves two questions: 1. “What can we do to help our children become more dependent upon God? 2. “What can we do to help our children become more interdependent with others?
Successful parents know that there are no guarantees in parenting. As a parent, you can do nearly everything right and your children may still choose to reject what you have taught and modeled. As parents, we are not accountable for the choices our children make. What we are accountable for is what we teach and model. So we need to be careful not to judge our success, or the success of other parents, solely in terms of our children’s choices.
Successful parents work on their marriages. Children who grow up in homes where there is a lot of tension, where there is a lot of emotional distance between their parents, children who grow up in homes like that tend to be much more insecure, they are much more likely to abuse drugs, to become promiscuous, to be depressed, and to perform poorly in school. They are also more likely to experience divorce themselves when they marry. There are exceptions, but study after study has shown this to be true. Healthy marriages take work, and lots of it. Marriage is like a garden. If you don’t tend it daily, weeds will spring up. And if you neglect it long enough, you no longer have a garden.
Parenting is a tough job. That is why, in God’s wisdom, He intended children to have two parents: a dad and a mom. And to be successful, dads and moms need to cultivate a team approach to raising their children. This means you need to learn how to complement one another in the process of childrearing. Parents, please take the time to discuss these principles with your spouse and make a concentrated effort to begin putting them into practice this week.
Application / Challenge
Ask yourself, how should the following truths affect the way that I am parenting?
- Psalm 51:5
- Genesis 8:21
- Proverbs 22:15
- Ephesians 6:1-4