My wife Angie and I, and my parents (Mike and Carol) are going to do something we've never done before - lead together a 'Parenting Teens' seminar. The occasion will be the April 11 grand opening of our new Student Ministry and all-purpose building at our church, while the teens are having a blast.
Parenting is on a lot of minds right now. Two of my appointments yesterday were about parenting counsel. One was in a parenting-of-a-teen crisis. The other couple was meeting with me about dedicating their infant and wanted to talk parenting. That couple is so motivated to be learners, they took a pre-parenting appointment with a Christian counselor before they ever had their baby - wow!
I want to pass on some wisdom from various parents in the area. When Cammie Howard and I preached on Parenting from Proverbs early this month, Cammie asked a lot of her friends and mentors for their best quick advice on Christ-centered parenting. Here is some of what they gave her (at the bottom is 'the worst parenting advice they ever received'):
-The first few are from a pastors wife, a very real, authentic , God loving woman…who has raised three girls who are all now married , have children of their own, and who are all following Christ! BUT, It has not always been that way for them …I watched she and her husband parent during some very, very difficult years. She says.
“As parents we take too much credit for the good things that our kids do and too much blame for the things they do wrong.”
“ Don't dole out punishment when your panties are in a bunch! Scary things happen when you're flaming mad.”
“Parenting is always challenging - quit complaining about it and trust God for the strength to parent.”
"Follow through…if you tell your child the next time they slam their door you're going to remove it…follow through and take that sucker off."
- “Help your child find ways to use and celebrate their unique gifting.”
- “Your main job is not to teach them to be obedient, your main job is to love them and show them Jesus.”
- “Find things you can enjoy doing as a family and create memories.”
- “ It's almost impossible to be a good parent if you're not hanging out with Jesus consistently. (1b - you must find a way to incorporate your faith, and encourage your kids faith AT HOME)
- “Being a good husband / wife will lead to being a good parent. SHOW your kids how much you love their dad/mom. model well.”
- “Don't take yourself too seriously. laugh a lot. dance often. play together.”
And a piece of advice from a mom who has raised three boys who are studs!! One is out of college and two are still in college and all are walking with the Lord… She asked her sons what they thought and they said…it was important to …
“ Make the home a place where they could feel safe, secure, comfortable, and allowed to express their true feelings (even the ugly stuff). regularly pray together; make nightly family dinners a priority; establish memorable traditions with birthdays and holidays; and frequently sit down to openly talk about joys, struggles, accomplishments, and disappointments.”
One of my personal pieces of parenting advice that I would give and is something I believe strongly about is this…keep your marriage as a priority, second to your relationship with God. Someone once told me the greatest gift parents can give children is to love one another well . Make time for one another. Go on dates. It is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I will never forget when I was growing up my parents had a regular standing date every Saturday night…most of the times, they had their dates at home. My brother and I were excited because we got to stay up later and watch TV, but the one rule was that we could not bother mom and dad unless it was an emergency. Sometimes we followed that rule, other times we came up the hall during a LOVE BOAT commercial, and knocked on the door because we wanted a bite of steak (they almost always grilled steak). As an adult I can look back on that and know how much security my brother and I felt as children because mom and dad valued their marriage enough to make it a priority and put it even before us and ultimately that was so much better for us anyway. So, take the time to invest in your marriage or if you are a single parent, take time for yourself to stay healthy. Make sure you are doing things that give you a full tank so you can give out of that to your children.
For the sake of of time, I will just share just a few of the worst pieces of parenting advices- these too were compiled from the email I sent out…
1) if you just read ________ book, then you'll have it figured out.
2) Be a friend to your child. That sounds all warm and fuzzy in theory, but your kids don't need you as their buddy. They need you to be the parent.
3) Again from my old pastors wife… Force your kids to eat everything on their plate. This never works out well! I still have vivid memories of the time my mother made my brother eat a huge serving of lima beans. (Personally, I think lima beans are only good for stuffing up your nose) My obedient brother did as he was told and then promptly threw up that huge serving right back into the bowl it came from. Perhaps you can understand my aversion to lima beans!