Like marriage, I believe parenting is a decision that is a “no turning back” kind of thing. No matter how difficult or how exasperating (which I think some parents feel sometimes), you just can’t quit. When feeling defeated, there’s no other way but to adjust and pick up from where you left off.
2 years ago I was blessed to have heard the Family series in CCF on Building Positive Relationships. And now that parenting may be the next step in our married life (hopefully in a year or so), I was overwhelmed on how timely it was to have listened to a “refresher course” on parenting last week in CCF’s Influencing the Heart.
Even in parenting (or even in mentoring), everything begins with the heart.
In the heart stirs various and complex emotions that will drive you to act on those feelings. To either build or destroy, to become better or bitter, to encourage or dishearten.
That’s why it is important to guard the heart, as Proverbs 4:23 says Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
In parenting, we must influence the heart of our child and beat anyone else to it. We have an advantage as we are the first people they will ever encounter in their lives therefore I believe that we must use that time wisely.
In influencing the heart of the child, I noted on the following guidelines on biblical parenting which I would like to look back on as I deem it helpful in the future:
1. Build a Relationship
To intentionally spend time with our child and build a relationship with him / her. The closer the relationship with them, the greater the influence we will have on them.
I believe that parents should not wait for the time when their kids are already immersed in a company of friends that bring more harm than good. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, it says, Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” As young as their children are, parents should safeguard those little hearts.
As a daughter, spending so much time with my mom for all of 25 years has a huge effect on me. Even when I am with other people, I would quote what I know is right (which is in truth according to my mom). I formulate my opinions and make my decisions based on what I believe is true. Even Jason would acknowledge that when we are discussing certain topics, “he now knows where I got the idea from” as he knows that I just echo the voice of my mom.
If parents are more intentional in teaching the truth and that truth about Christ, how much more will it be evident in the voice, mindset and actions of your child.
How can we understand our child if we are always on the defensive mode and we state our opinions first? James 1:19-20 states, Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
If we want to understand the heart of our child, we must learn to listen to them FIRST. To ask the pertinent questions to reveal his or her heart and then set it aright. To always link his / her identity with God and intentionally connect them to Him.
You know when they say positive words affect us positively and negative words affect us negatively, it’s true.
When you call your child “good for nothing” or call them names, sooner or later they would believe that especially if it comes from a person they subconsciously look up to – you.
As a parent and their leader, we must find out where they’re good at and affirm them on that, so they would develop it and we would be able to lead them to their dreams. Never ever compare them to other children, most especially their sibling/s. Each child is unique in his / her own way. Each has their own strength that as a parent, you need to find and nurture.
4. Be a Good Model
Among the guidelines on biblical parenting, this is honestly one of my struggles as I develop my character. It’s one thing to say something, and another to actually do it. To be a person of integrity is really a challenge and I admit to be a work in progress. If we desire to have godly and obedient children, then we ourselves must be constantly improving ourselves to be one.
If we do not want our children to have vices, then we must quit ours. Children can usually see the disconnect if their parents say something, and yet do otherwise. It causes confusion towards them and sooner or later, you will find them acquiring the same habit as yours.
For husbands who desire wives to embrace their role of submitting to their husband, they must also check if they are obedient to leaders as well. To God, and to authority.
Kids are very observant and they watch your every move, so we have to be cautious in our thoughts, words and especially our deeds, that we can say to our children, Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)
5. Cast Vision
I am not so much of a visionary, that’s why I’m thankful for my husband, Jason who has this gift. Once a vision is created, motivation follows suit. The greater the vision, the greater the motivation.
Vision gives direction on who God is and it also creates a big picture for the children. Who they are, where they are headed and it guides them how they should act knowing all these things.
As their leaders, we constantly have to feed them that vision. In relation to the workplace, we constantly have to give our staff a vision to keep them striving to realize that.
Vision is also not seeing our children as who they are, but who they can become. It is planting and building a dream in them that you trust in their potential and who they can become. This then will touch their hearts as they realize how special they truly are.
It means a lot to a child to know that someone thinks they are capable for something good and something great, my husband would always say.
Being a parent is not easy, and I don’t dare to take it lightly. But I also need to rest in God’s power that what God has planted in my heart on what I desire my future child to be, then so it will be.
The heart of parenting is indeed influencing the heart of the child.
To see that no matter what life throws at your child, they would respond as to what touched their little hearts back then – how you led them and made an impact on them.