No, I don’t have children. Yet. I hope one day the Lord blesses me with little munchkins. It’s a huge task, I hear. The most difficult thing you’ll ever do. And the most rewarding.
So, what’s a gal with no children doing sharing parenting advice you may be asking yourself?
That’s a great and legitimate question. And I’ve had lifelong friends virtually end our relationship over my having chimed in about kids. I only share that because I wanted you to know that if you decided to take a hike after knowing that I didn’t have kids, you wouldn’t be the first.
So, why do I feel that I have the right to share parenting advice?
Well, that’s because this advice came from the pastors of my church, and both have children. Their advice comes straight from the Bible…sometimes. Sometimes they like to share with us things they have done or are doing now, and for that I’m forever grateful. The Word of God stands firm today and tomorrow and the days to come, so every time they share tips for parents, I write it down.
That’s right, this article is not parenting advice from a non-parent after all, a better title could have been 6 Parenting Tips from a Pastor, but then I knew most of you wouldn’t even come in to read. So I kind of tricked you, didn’t I? You thought you were going to come in here and get the whole you shouldn’t feed your kids chocolate for breakfast type of guilting from someone who doesn’t have kids and thinks sipping her morning coffee quietly should happen at least once a week.
The tips below are much deeper than anything chocolate, and I hope that despite the fact that you were tricked into getting here and despite the fact that this advice is coming from a pastor I hope that you learn something and are blessed by this article.
Please note, these tips may be “from” a pastor, but they were translated through me. I didn’t sit down and interview the guy (guys, actually). I took notes on their teachings and interpreted what they were saying.
6 Parenting Tips from A Pastor (Who’s A Dad)
Above all else, teach your kids about God.
Life happens and there’s no way to stop that. Music lessons and recitals will come along, sports games and practices, school events, birthday parties you name it. Sundays should be reserved for church, and every other day of the week should be a time of prayer and open communication about your beliefs. One thing that can’t go unsaid here is the fact that your actions will speak louder than your words. You can talk the talk all you want, but if you aren’t walking the walk your kids will know you’re faking it.
If you want them to listen when they’re 15, we must listen now (James 1:19-20)
Don’t we all fear the day that our kids storm out of the house and run off to who knows where with little Jimmy down the street? If we want our teenage kids to listen and respect us when they’re old enough to do something about it, we must listen to them when they’re 4 or 8 or 12. Yes, it matters.
My pastor actually told us a story about how his son is really into Mine Craft right now, and for an hour he listened to his son rattle on and on about blocks and strange animals and capturing eggs. He listened, and did so enthusiastically because he knows that when his son is 15 there will be a time that a conversation will need to happen, and he wants his son to know that dad was always listening, but right now dad needs to share something very important.
This may sound like silly advice, but today we are more distracted and have more things going on in our lives and in our brains than ever. So as silly or crazy as it sounds, someone needs to say it.
Turn off the TV. Close the laptop. Put down your phone. And sit with your kid. Play a game, read a book, take a walk. Build something together. Throw a ball. Dig in the dirt. Measure flour, lick the spoon, bake cookies.
There is absolutely nothing on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or the hunting channel that’s more important than the outrageous story your kid wants to tell you about their imaginary friend. We need to cut this out. What do you really expect to happen when you want your kid to listen and he won’t loosen his drip on the controller? He learned it from you.
Keep things in perspective (1 Peter 1: 3-10).
Believing in and giving your life over to God does not mean life will be easy. In fact, much of Scripture says it will be the opposite of that. You see, once you put on that name tag, Son or Daughter of Christ, you simultaneously put a target on your back that lets Satan know who you are. And he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1Peter 5:8). So, life will happen. Kids will mess up. They’ll get hurt. They’ll disobey.
Keep things in perspective. If you’re a Christian, you already know how this life ends. It ends with you, and hopefully your children in Heaven. Think about that next time your kids are screaming at each other. Tantrums won’t seem as daunting when you’ve got your eyes on Heaven.
They need to belong and not feel judged. Your home needs to be a safe place for your children (and anyone who enters).
Discipline to purify, not to punish.
I’ve heard it so many times, from Believers and non, do not discipline your kids while you’re angry. That’s the wrong motive, and the result could be a resentful heart from them. This becomes much easier when you change your perspective on suffering and struggles.
As a Christian, I understand that my life will not be comfortable. God will expect things from me that I don’t want to give. And the world will cast me out because of how my Father is (Luke 6:22). When we can see suffering as an opportunity, we see discipline differently.
We can see discipline as a way to purify our children. By laying down rules and expectations, we can bring the best out in our kids. Don’t forget, we are all born sinners. We want to do things our way, kids want to do things their way, not your way. They will act on that, and thus they will need guidance.
Set your heart on purifying and guiding your children, not punishing them.
Character (and godliness) is caught, not taught (1 Peter 5: 1-3).
If you look up the Scripture know that you (the parent) are referred to as the elder and the flock refer to your children. God has placed our children under our care for a time. Our life here on earth is but a short breath, they belong to him, we are just temporarily caring for them. It’s vital that we keep this in perspective. By entrusting us with his children, he expects us to live in a way that brings glory to him (live as Christ would, make God known to our children).
This goes back to the first bit about walking the walk. Your character, good or bad, will be very evident to your children. They’re the ones who see how you behave and how you talk to your spouse behind closed doors. They’re sponges, soaking up all things, good and bad. Be aware of this at all times.
Protect them spiritually above all else.
You know how earlier I talked about how Satan prowls around like a roaring lion? Well our children are not immune to his bite. Even if they haven’t accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior yet, the fact that you have is reason enough for Satan to want to see your children fall. It’s the same reason Satan goes after any of us. If someone cannot get to their enemy, what’s the next best thing? Their children. We’ve been adopted into the family of God, and Scripture tells us that Satan cannot touch God hence why he targets us.
When we protect our kids spiritually, by equipping them with the knowledge and love of Christ we are protecting them emotionally, physically, and mentally. When children know they have a God they can lean on, they can vent their emotions. When they understand that they are a Prince or Princess in eyes of God they will respect their bodies. When life gets tough, not only will they know that they can turn to you, but they can get on their knees and pray to God. Spiritual protection is what our kids need.
Lord, I pray for all the parents reading this, that they would come to know and love you. God we cannot live this life without you, even if and when we think we can, we need you. I ask that you would fill us with your truth, your love, your wisdom, and your strength. God, I don’t have children yet, so I don’t know the struggles these parents are facing on a daily basis, but I do know this, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, they can’t do when they lean on you. May they be light and salt for their children, may their children pick up on their godly character and want to seek you. I pray these things in your most holy name. Amen.