Parenting is difficult! If you’re a parent, you know this is true. You might even say that parenting isn’t difficult; it’s impossible!
Parenting has changed drastically since I was a kid. My mom would tell us to go outside and play and only let me back inside once it was time for dinner. There was no snack time in between. Snack time was to get a drink from the garden hose. That’s it!
I remember there used to be a TV commercial that would come on the major networks every night saying, “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your kids are?” Back then, parents were reminded that they had kids! Now, we have apps that track our kids’ location. We know exactly where they’re at, and we’re still anxious and worried.
When it comes to parenting, my parents weren’t experts, and I am by no means an expert. In fact, if there’s any subject that I approach with much fear and trepidation, it’s this one. But on my journey as a dad, I’ve learned some things scripturally that I want to share with you. As parents, our kids have six needs we need to provide for them. This article is part 1, and I’ll cover the first three. Let’s start in Deuteronomy 6.
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
1. Kids Need a Biblical Foundation for Faith
You see, it starts with God. Nothing else matters if you miss God. I can’t force spirituality on anyone, including my kids, but what a tragedy it would be if they grow up and don’t know that God is my number one priority. It really doesn’t matter what your kids know if they don’t know what really matters. When we focus on giving them things and providing happiness, we are creating a foundation based on worldly standards instead of on faith.
Verse 6 says, “These words shall be on your heart.” As parents, if we’re going to teach God’s word and lay our foundation upon it, it’s got to be on our heart. If God is not our focus, if God is neglected, if our priorities are out of whack, our foundation is built on sand.
If you’re going to build a foundation of faith for your kids, you’ve got to recognize that you, Mom and Dad, are your children’s primary disciple-maker. We mistakenly believe their teachers, church volunteers, or pastors should be the primary teachers. God expects parents to be the primary disciple-maker. Deuteronomy 6 says, “You shall teach them diligently.”
The church is there to partner with you, to come alongside and encourage you, and to give you resources and help in challenging times. But we’ve got to eliminate the “let somebody else do it” mentality. I’m responsible for providing my kids with a foundation of faith.
2. Kids Need You to Engage
If you’ve read many parenting books, you’ve probably heard the saying, “Kids spell love, T-I-M-E” or “It’s not about quantity time; it’s about quality time.” But the problem is you never know when quality time will show up. You can’t schedule quality time.
I remember my wife and I trying to do this one time. We had gone to a waterpark a few years before and had a great time, so we thought, let’s go back. It’s going to be awesome! Well, we quickly realized that two years in the life of teenagers is like an eternity. They had significantly changed, and after paying $700, we discovered they didn’t like water parks anymore. Two days of what was going to be “quality” time was actually “hell on earth” time.
As you share the home, the car, and the dinner table with your kids, you might think you’re spending time together, but it’s not the time that actually matters. It’s engagement that matters. Engagement means your body is there, and your mind is there, too.
Is there something you’re currently doing that’s taking time away from your kids? A hobby you love, or a side gig you’re trying to run? What are you doing in your career that you don’t need to do to survive? You see, to really engage your kids on a deeper level requires sacrifice. Not just financial but personal as well.
If you want to engage more with your kids, here are two things I want you to think about:
- What personal sacrifices do you potentially need to make
- What career sacrifices do you potentially need to make?
3. Kids Need Good Memories
Verse 8 says to “bind God’s words as a sign on your hand. They will be frontlets between your eyes; you shall write them on the doorpost of your house.” He’s saying, “Have reminders.” Why? Because we need to be reminded of God’s work in our lives, His Word, and what He’s called us to do.
In the same way, our kids need memories of us reading the Bible to them, planting seeds of the gospel into their hearts, and bringing them to church. So, how can we create good memories for our kids? Let me give you four practical ways.
Good Traditions – Every family needs to establish traditions that you do year after year. Eating dinner or gathering for birthday celebrations are great traditions to maintain. For my family, it was an annual talent show we’d do with my brother and my sisters’ families when we’d all go on vacation together. We’re not very talented, so it was more like a comedy show, but it was a great tradition for our kids.
Capture Memories – I hesitate to mention this one because many young parents are capturing too many memories nowadays. Sharing every moment on Twitter and Instagram. But my point is for us to record them on video and print pictures out.
Plan Vacations – When my kids were little, we didn’t have money to go on vacations, but even an overnight at a hotel with an indoor pool can be a fantastic vacation for a little kid. You can do relatively inexpensive things. The point is to get away with your kids, doing something outside the daily routine. Something unique that the whole family can plan and look forward to. Our kids still talk about camping trips that we took that I don’t even remember.
Create Adventures – Life is busy, and we get so caught up in the everyday stuff. School, work, practice, the next thing that needs to get done on the to-do list. These things take up our time, and life can sometimes feel mundane. We need to add some adventure to our lives. I encourage you to get out into the woods, go camping, take a raft down the river, go fishing, and do some adventurous outdoor stuff.
Parenting is difficult. Along the journey, there’s going to be pain and a lot of ups and downs. But when you are intentional about laying a foundation of faith for your kids, when you are intentional about engaging them along the way, when you work to create good memories, you’ll have a foundation. Through prayer, you’ll see the fruit of how God has used you to help your kids become the men and women that God wants them to be.