You’ve probably had an older parent tell you, “Your kids will grow up so fast.” You’ve heard them say, “You better enjoy them while you can. They’re going to be gone before you know it.” As parents, depending on the season that you’re in, your response to those questions might be something like, “Enjoy them, really? When does that happen?” Or “They grow up too fast? I wish they would grow up a little bit faster.” They’ll be gone before I know it. Wait, can they go now?” But time really does go by fast. The old statement, “The days seem long, but the years are short,” is true.
We often overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in 52 weeks. We pack out our days with appointments and tasks, and at the end of the year, we look back and realize we didn’t take advantage of family time during those 52 weeks.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way that he should go. And even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” What does it practically look like to train up a child in the way that they should go? How do we do that?
In the last article, I gave three of the six needs parents must provide for their kids. Let’s recap: Kids need 1) a Biblical foundation of faith, 2) Good Memories, and 3) Parents who Engage. Today I want to continue with the needs 4, 5, and 6.
4. Kids Need Godly Role Models
Parents need to realize that they are role models. As a parent, you are under surveillance 24/7 by your kids. They are watching everything you do. You can teach what you know, but you will reproduce who you are. We want them to look like Jesus.
1 Corinthians 11:1 says, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” Paul is saying that you can imitate me because I am imitating Jesus. I’m a role model simply because I imitate Jesus.
The same is true in the life of a follower of Jesus. When we follow Jesus, over time, we’ll begin to demonstrate fruit in our life that reflects that we really do have a relationship with God. Imitating Jesus means that you will produce fruit in your life.
What is fruit?
Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
The fruit of the Spirit proves that we are imitating Jesus and developing a love for people, experiencing joy, peace, and patience. It doesn’t mean that all circumstances are perfect. It means no matter what we are going through, the fruits of the Spirit are still evident. Are your kids seeing the fruits of the Spirit of God in you? Are you imitating Jesus so that they see Jesus in you? Your kids don’t need to see a perfect father, but they need to know a dad who loves Jesus and is pursuing his faith. Here’s the second role model. When you are a part of a ministry like we have here at Foothills Church, you get to widen the circle of influence in your children’s lives. Your kids get adult leaders as role models. When they have questions about life, things that they’re probably not going to come to you to
talk to you about, they will come to their small group leader and have those discussions. What I love about our church is that an army of people are investing in my kids.
Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Our kids probably aren’t going to find a lot of wise friends in the classroom this week. There’s a better chance they’ll see other like-minded kids in our student ministry and our kids’ ministry. They will receive wisdom and encouragement from the adult leaders in their lives.
That’s helping them walk with wise people. When a godly role model in their life says the same thing that you are saying, they will listen to them even though they wouldn’t listen to you. That’s just the nature of teenagers. So it’s vital that no matter what age they are, you put them in environments where mentoring relationships develop.
5. Kids Need Discipline
Every kid is different. If you have multiple kids, you know this. Your kids grow up with the same mom, dad, home, church, everything, but totally different kids. I think that’s God’s sense of humor. One kid comes out with a rose in their mouth and a smile on their face, saying, “Dad, whatever you need me to do. I love you.” Another kid comes out with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, flipping the bird and saying, “Go ahead and try to discipline me.” You will have to discipline each of your children differently.
Hebrews 12:5 teaches us that God disciplines His children.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines the one that he loves, and He chastises everyone he accepts as his son.”
Discipline is about love. Discipline is about showing guidance. When you discipline your kids, you must see it as guiding them, not yelling at them. You’re teaching them and training them in the way that they should go. Discipline requires a conversation. Yes, it requires consequences, but it should come from a heart of guidance, out of a posture of explanation. We need to do this calmly and consistently.
We’ve got to go back to the fruits of the Spirit. Ask God for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to discipline your kids effectively. Love and discipline go hand in hand.
Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children. But the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
Some might interpret this passage as a means to be harsh with their kids or to lash out and spank them. But notice he uses the word “careful.” He says, “Be careful to discipline them.” In Psalm 23, David says, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Why? Because the shepherd used the rod to get the sheep away from predators. The idea of disciplining with the rod is for their protection—discipline with care, out of love, and never out of anger.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We provoke our kids to anger when we discipline them in anger. If your face turns red and you yell and scream, that might provoke your child to anger. Showing favoritism to one child can provoke your kids
to anger. Unexplained discipline – when we don’t explain why, or over-disciplining – being too harsh and never admitting that you’re wrong. These are all ways we could be provoking our kids to anger. We don’t have to be perfect parents, but when we do mess up, the next step should be to say, “Hey, I’m sorry I yelled.” It’s good to ask your kids for forgiveness when you mess up.
6. Kids Need Encouragement
Proverbs 12:18 “There’s one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Have you ever had someone criticize you or say something about you, and it was like a sword thrust into your heart? That’s how powerful words are in our lives. They can build up, or they can destroy.
Your words can be life-giving for your kids, or they can break their spirit. Your words can shape their identity, how they perceive the world, how they view God, and what they think about themselves. Our words will make them feel loved, significant, and important, or like they’re alone, abandoned, and don’t matter.
1 Thessalonians 5:10 says, “Encourage one another and build each other up.”
This is an excellent relational truth for any relationship, especially for our kids. Think about it: what do our kids usually hear from us? “You didn’t do this. You didn’t do that. Why aren’t you doing this?” That’s because it’s the negative things that draw our attention. The negative things cause us to speak into a situation, “Stop fighting, stop yelling.”
One practical thing you can do is “see a positive and say a positive.” Look for the positive things your kids are doing and their decisions. Identify them and then verbally affirm them. Words can set the tone and create a vision for your child’s life.
Parenting is challenging in many ways, and it’s also a beautiful gift. As you think about these needs your kids have, ask the Lord to help you be the role model they need, for wisdom in how to discipline, and to be intentional in giving them the encouragement they need. Instead of focusing on where we have gotten it wrong, let the truth of God’s word inspire us to be better parents.