"The same God produces every gift in every person." (1 Corinthians 12:6b GW)
Every child in your family is different and unique. Even twins are not alike. As a parent, you have to recognize and value each child's individuality.
1 Corinthians 12:6 says, "The same God produces every gift in every person" (GW). God made everyone different because otherwise the world would be incredibly boring. There would also be a lot of work that wouldn't get done. If we all liked the same thing, there would be a lot of things that nobody liked to do, and they just wouldn't get done.
How can you tell when you've accepted your kid's uniqueness? It's simple: You stop insisting that they be like you. God made us in his image, and now, as parents, we want to make our kids in our image. So we say either overtly or covertly, "You need to be like me. You need to think like I think. You need to like the things I like.
The things I was good at in school, you should be good at in school." The message comes through loud and clear to the kids: "You can't be yourself. The only way to get love, acceptance, or approval is to be like Mom and Dad."
Kids are not things to be molded; they're people to be unfolded
. Your goal in life should not be to mold your kids in your image. Your goal in life should be to help them discover who God made them to be.
God sovereignly chose to make your kids the way they are. He wired them in a way that you had nothing to do with. When your child is acting in a way that is so foreign to you that you want to say, "What planet did you come from?" you need to trust God's wisdom and realize that he knew exactly what your child needed and exactly what you needed, and he put the two of you together in a family for his unique purpose.
"Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding." (Proverbs 9:10 TLB)
The most important lesson that we teach our kids is knowing and loving God.
You don't have all the answers. If you haven't figured that out yet, you will. You don't have all the answers for the questions your kids are going to ask. I don't mean things like, "Why is the sky blue?" or "Why do dogs bark?" — for which you make up answers to satisfy them for awhile. As they get older, they ask questions like, "Why did God make me this way?" or "If God is loving and in control of everything, why did he allow Grandma to die?" Questions like that are very tough to answer, and my reservoir of answers is very small. But it's my job as a parent to point my kids to a God who does have all the answers.
You can sit down and tell your kids things about God, and that has some effect. But if you want to be even more effective, you have to be a role model. The best way to teach your kids is by modeling for them the truths you want them to understand.
Sometimes parents make the mistake by hiding from their kids the struggles that they're facing, because they want to protect them. But in certain situations, sharing with our kids the things that are going on in our lives helps them see how to get through those struggles. When you're experiencing financial difficulties, how better to teach your kids to have faith in God than by constantly expressing to them, "Yeah, it's tough right now, but we have a God who is faithful to us, and he'll provide for us"? If they don't see our trust in God and his deliverance in our lives, why should they rely on him?
Proverbs 9:10 says, "Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding" (TLB). Knowing God is the foundation of life. Many parents who are not even Christians talk about God — but that's not enough. We need to point our kids to Jesus Christ, their Savior, by modeling for them every day what we know to be true about God and his Son.
"Your children are a gift from God." (Psalm 127:3 TLB)
God intends families to be a haven for happiness and fun — a place to party, kick back, relax, and have a good time.
It is true that the family that prays together, stays together. Also, the family that playstogether, stays together.
Your children are gifts from God, meant to be enjoyed, not just endured. A lot of parents endure their kids; they don't enjoy them. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 16, “Celebrate with your whole family.” Party down! Have a good time. If you wait until all your problems are gone to start enjoying life, you'll never enjoy life.
When my kids were young, they were never impressed with what adults are impressed by in my life. What they wanted to know is, "Is Daddy fun?" So I intentionally worked hard on this one. I used to “kidnap” my kids from school in the middle of the day to go do something fun. They're not going to remember all my sermons, but they're going to remember whether or not Dad was fun.
If your home isn't fun while your kids are growing up, don't be surprised if they don't come back often when they're grown. Why should they?
"Reverence for God gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security." (Proverbs 14:26 TLB)
Life is full of storms that batter us, bruise us, and beat us up. Life is very tough, and we all need a place of safety, security, peace, and protection. God has planned that our homes be that place.
There are all kinds of storms that come into our lives, but here are three every one of us will experience:
- Change. From day to day, relationships change, jobs change, our health changes, where we live changes. Studies tell us that too much of any change — positive or negative — is stressful. So we need a place of security and support, where we know everything is going to be the same.
- Failure. Nobody wins all the time. Sometimes you get passed by for the promotion, you don't make the team, or you fail the test. And it hurts. But failure is more bearable if you're coming home to hugs, if you know that when you get home, you're going to be encouraged.
How do you build a home that can be a shelter in a storm?
Hear. Listen to the people in your family. Don't be too quick to come up with a solution before they even get the words out of their mouths. Sometimes they just need to vent or tell you how they feel.
Hug. Express affection. Do the things that say "I love you."
Hope. Build up the people in your family with affirmation. Make sure you're giving good input to balance all the negative they hear outside your home.
Help. Make sure that you do whatever it takes to get help when your family is going through a tough time. Unhealthy families ignore their problems or they say, "We can make it without help. We don't need anyone else's input. We're not talking to anybody about this. We can handle it" — or worse, they say, "What problem?" Healthy families are willing to look at themselves realistically and say, "We're having a tough time right now, and we need some help."
You may not be able to protect your children from the storms of life, but you can help protect them in the storms of life by making your home a place of security and support.
- Rejection. Everyone knows what it's like to feel criticized, pushed away, or not allowed to be part of the "in" crowd. A lot of that starts on the playground, where kids can be mean, laughing at the flaws of others and making fun of those who seem different. Coming home to acceptance and love helps children through the storms.
"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52 NIV)
The Bible says that one of the goals for parenting is to prepare your kids for life. God intends the family to be a learning center for life. You learn things in your family that you don't learn anywhere else. I remember when my youngest taught me how to burp and sneeze at the same time — a very cool thing! I don't know if I'll ever use it anywhere, but it's a great spiritual experience to be able to do that.
You learn life's basic skills in the family, like how to walk, talk, eat, and use a TV remote. God says we are to prepare our kids for life.
The Bible says this about Jesus in Luke 2:52: "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (NIV). This verse says there are four ways Jesus grew, and these are the same four ways you, as a parent, have to help your children grow.
The Bible says:
Those should be the goals you have in your family for each of your children, which focus on balanced growth: mental, physical, spiritual, and social. The Bible is very clear that the primary responsibility of raising children and helping them be prepared for life belongs to the parents.
The moment you took part in a conception you got a job description; raising your children well is your responsibility. Help your children grow strong mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.
- Jesus grew in wisdom — that's mental or intellectual growth.
- Jesus grew in stature — that's physical growth.
- Jesus grew in favor with God — that's spiritual growth.
- Jesus grew in favor with men — that's social growth.
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