Parents, none of us have really been given an official job description, but here is a top ten list of things I’m pretty certain should be included. Before I attempt to share any of this with you, I’ve taken note of this in my own heart. Parenting is a journey that will test you, breaks you, and requires every ounce of you staying focused on the task at hand.
1. PRAY DAILY. Anyone who thinks they can raise a child alone is in for a rude awakening. You need God’s grace, strength, divine intervention, and daily wisdom. Many times a parent will have done all they could do humanly speaking and the rest must be put in God’s hands.
2. LOVE THEM TO DEATH. Love is the bridge to a child’s heart. Love them, kiss them, and make sure they know that nothing can change your love for them. However, make sure they know your love does not give them a license to do what they want when they want.
3. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. One of the greatest challenges of a parent is the fact that our kids observe the good, bad, and the ugly about us. They see how we interact with our spouse, others, and them. We have to admit when we are wrong and do our best to practice what we preach.
4. REMEMBER YOU’RE THE PARENT. The moment you put yourself on your child’s level you’ve reached a very dangerous point. I love my kids to death, but I’m not trying to win their best friend award. My job is train them up in the way they should go, not win a popularity contest. I just finished telling one of my boys “Son, my job is not to just be your best friend. There is a new sheriff in town and I’m it.”
5. ENDURE HARDSHIP. I was a youth pastor for 11 years and I’ve observed many in this rodeo called parenting. I’m well aware that as a parent I might as well buckle my seat belt and get ready for a rough ride. Hardships are a part of any worthwhile journey and parenting is full of them.
6. SEIZE TEACHING MOMENTS. God has called us to teach our children right from wrong based on His way and His word. Lessons are learned best when we seize the teachable moments. When bad things happen, show them hope. When good things happen, teach them gratefulness. Everyday offers us teachable moments that we must seize while our children are still teachable.
7. DON’T COMPARE YOUR CHILDREN. We have four boys in our house and no two are exactly alike. You have to get to know the heart and the love language of each child. What works for one may not work for another. Don’t compare your children with each other or with any other person’s child. This only builds major resentment.
8. LEARN HOW TO DISCIPLINE. I have a feeling that my belt will have to stay on standby in the years ahead. No, I’m not planning on flogging my children until they bleed. However, I do believe they need a healthy fear that poor behavior will not go without major consequence in this house. Life has laws and every home must have rules. When those rules are broken discipline should follow. Remember, if you don’t deal with the children in your home society will have to deal with them outside of your home.
9. DEAL WITH THINGS EARLY. I’ve said many times that each of my boys have been raised by different dads. Today’s dad has learned how important it is to deal with things early. Behaviors set in early and we must realize that we must parent intentionally early and often. It is much easier to lead a preschooler than a teenager who now thinks they are grown.
10. STAY THE COURSE. Too many parents start out well, but don’t stay the course. Parenting is not a one day event, but a long journey that is worth your best efforts. Stay the course, do your best, and God will take care of the rest. Don’t quit parenting in the 4th quarter of the game (otherwise known at the teenage years). Your efforts still matter.
Parents we’ve not been called to be our child’s best friend. Our job is to love them, lead them, and prepare them for life without us. Our goal should be to raise children that are best prepared for life’s challenges and who will make God smile.