I'm certainly not an expert on parenting, although before I had kids, I really thought I would be, LOL! I had a wonderful Mother, who really made it look easy. Yet even she didn't keep her kids (my brother and I) from making some really bad decisions along the way. It certainly wasn't because we didn't know any better. My Mom was a wonderful teacher of the Word of God. She listened to us when we had problems, and prayed for us more than we'll ever know.
I know that I'm the woman of God I am today because as the Word says, she trained up a child in the way they should go...and now that I'm old, I will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6)
However, as a Mom of two boys, one of which is about to go to Middle School (YIKES!) I am looking closer than ever at the best approach to parenting a child so that their testimony will be "I never departed from God's will". I'm not saying they won't make mistakes, I'm saying that they don't have to walk away from the Lord, go into the world and then come back after they've discovered the pain the world has to offer.
Psalm 78:7 "He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands."Teaching our children to follow God's Word is not a suggestion! Of all the things in life we want to teach and pass down to our children, the Word of God must be top priority!
Not only that, it shouldn't just be the "letter of the law" but the "spirit of the law" as well. In other words, we have to instill in them that obeying God's commandments goes far beyond a list of rules & regulations. It is a matter of the heart. I've told me kids, I don't want you to follow the rules just when you think I'm looking. I want you to believe in the rules so you'll make wise choices when your Dad and I aren't around. I've known kids who obeyed their parents purely out of fear of getting caught and having to face the consequences. While some of that is useful in keeping them from making huge mistakes, especially in the teenage years, it isn't the ideal way of getting the best results.
When that same kid goes off to college, where the parents can't enforce the rules quite as easily as when they were under their roof, you have to hope that some of what you taught them will come into play. However, if their only motivation for doing the right thing was fear of getting caught, it will not stop them from living as they please.
Ultimately we have no control because they are people with free will, the same as us. So parenting must switch from the need to control, to the desire to mold.
Our Pastor has said a few times, our kids don't have a "mini Holy Spirit" living inside of them. They have access to the same Holy Spirit as we do! I also believe that we shouldn't wait until our kids are older to experience the things of God that we ourselves want to experience. Why do we want to teach baby stuff to our children when the world is giving them a full dose of it's ugly reality at an alarmingly younger age? I say we hold nothing back.
Parents, don't always go into your "prayer closets" to pray in the Spirit - pray out loud for your kids to hear! Let your children feel God's presence come like a blanket of peace over your house when you fill it with praise & worship. Tell them what that feeling is and where it comes from. When you have to pray for healing for someone, tell your kids to come along with you and lay their hands on the person right along side you. When you read your Bible, read it out loud to them and then talk about it. Ask them what they think it means. Encourage them to be baptized, in water, in the Spirit, AND with Fire (boldness & zeal for the Lord)
Okay, you get the picture. I'm encouraging myself too - I'm not always faithful to do all these things on a regular basis. I'm asking God to help me be more disciplined and consistent. But starting today, starting with any of these things, as much as you can, is better than nothing at all. This is especially important for those of you like me, who are about to have their kids home with them for the entire Summer. What a great opportunity to mold & shape them before they are surrounded by voices contrary to yours.
May God bless us as we partake in the greatest challenge and privilege on earth - being a Parent.