Parenting is a commitment of epic proportions. As parents, we spend our days accomplishing a vast list of important…and not so important things. They are time consuming and taxing! But as someone once said, “in raising children, the days are long, but the years are short.” Although the necessary duties fill our days, there is something spiritual about our parenting that often gets lost in the mundane. How can today’s parents capture a glimpse of eternity in the midst of the ordinary…to not merely spend their hours, but invest their days?
Here are seven helpful tips that will turn the routine duties of parenting into a life that has a spiritual God-centered perspective:
- Abandon the idea of perfect parenting
- When you fail, ask for forgiveness - it models how your children should respond when they fail
- Stop trying to impress everyone…including yourself!
- Set realistic goals and communicate them to your family members
- Kill the 'Super-Parent' lie…and ask for help!
- Live an honest and authentic life before your child - it will nurture a compelling relationship with you in the future
- Focus on the heart of your child…not just the behavior
- Recognize that there is often 'something more' below the surface of the misbehavior…be open to finding that out
- When handing out the discipline make sure that natural consequences are maximized…they have the greatest long-term impact
- Eliminate shame and guilt as motivators of your child toward a certain behavior…they ultimately destroy the soul
- Determine to worry less and pray more
- Recognize that worry is an energy zapper
- Set aside time each day for a few minutes of quiet reflection and prayer
- When a difficult situation arises…choose to ask, in prayer, for wisdom and strength before acting
- Write out prayers or verses and place them around your home for encouragement
- Pray with and for your child
- Talk with (not at) your child everyday
- Look at your child in the eyes when speaking
- Listen with generosity to the things that are important to your child
- Be aware of what is not being said…ask questions that will allow your child to share his/her heart
- Take time each day to focus on your child, uninterrupted by media or technology…this communicates their value to you
- Be involved with like-minded parents
- Get involved in a local church (most have parent groups and programs)
- Meet neighbors with your same values to create play groups or outings
- Take time for yourself to have 'adult conversations' - guilt free!
- Give your child a strong sense of identity
- Speak positive words to your child while identifying them (for example - “he is a good listener,” rather than, “he is shy.” Or, “she is creative and expressive,” rather than, “she’s not really into sports”)
- Tell your child stories of your family’s history and heritage
- Share your faith journey with your child
- Offer words of 'blessing' to your child at meals and before dropping him/her off at sporting events or school
- Create opportunities for your child to serve others
- Allow your child to be exposed to the needs in your community
- Help your child to determine his/her gifts and how he/she might put those into action for the sake of someone else
- Give opportunities for your child to set aside money or belongings for those in need
- Make a meal for a new mom or an elderly and deliver it together
Start putting these things into practice today! At the end of the day, you may still feel exhausted as you drop into bed, but you will know that you have invested in what really matters most…approaching your child with a spiritual mindset that honors God!
Michelle Anthony taught a paper about Children and Family Ministry last year at Carey Baptist College. She has written a number of books and has led Children and Family Ministries for more than 25 years. She holds postgraduate degrees in Christian Education and Bible and Theology.
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