“What makes an effective parent? ” “How can one be effective in his or her parenting? ” Answers to these questions are very much needed by a father or a mother who truly loves his or her children and has deep concern for them.
These are simple questions which may be answered right away but doing it passionately is another issue. For me, understanding the real meaning of parenting should be clear to a person before deciding to have kids. Even before our Parenting class, I knew I was lacking in my parenting skills. Although my husband and I were trying to be the parent that God wants us to be, somehow I can sense that there were things that we were not doing properly. This made me even more interested to take up this subject. As expected, just after the first day of class, God enabled me to see that I was not doing it His way.
As a mother, I was not praying as often and as earnestly as I should for each of my children. And if I am praying, I was only asking for what is here and now and not their future lives. I was shaken when I realized that there were aspects in our parenting style that were not helping our children to mature in their respective areas of growth. And I am grateful that God has allowed me to gain a lot of insights not only from our readings but more relevantly, on the real life experiences of our teachers. One of the principles that really made an impact on me is that of praying for my children.
That was the very first thing that I heard (or at least the very first that struck me real hard) from Ate Bing as she was talking about how she and Kuya Teody raised their kids. Praying for them is one of the best things that I, as a parent, can do for my children. I am just a human being and can only do so much, but the Lord is above all. He is sovereign and He holds their lives and knows what is best for them so I entrust each one to Him. I know there is power in prayer and that in prayer I can never go wrong for it is God who will keep them, bless them, guide and direct them in the way that they should go.
Setting a godly example is another principle that I would like to consistently apply in my parenting. “Practice what you preach” and “Walk your talk” are some of the sayings I have heard a couple of times from different people. This principle is oftentimes taken lightly or even neglected by some parents. We usually forget that children are imitators and they understand quickly by observing. We, as parents, should model behaviors that our children can emulate. What they see and hear from us is what they will also do and say.
As one author puts it, “kids may or may not listen to our words, but they always pay attention to our actions. ” It is very easy for me to say a complete 3-point sermon to my children about what they ought to do and how they should behave but I know this is not what they need. They need to see me putting into action what I teach them. If I want them to learn to trust God in everything, then I should demonstrate trust in God not only in difficult times but also in my day to day activities such as helping my husband manage our family, our finances and also as I accomplish my duties in the workplace.
I have learned that when children see that their parents are living examples of God’s Word, it is easier for them to adapt godly principles, thus making learning more meaningful. The third principle that I am also trying my best to practice is to give my children quality time. I have read that time shared with your kids is not wasted time and I agree with this. During school programs and activities, I have witnessed a couple of times how happiness is spelled out in the face of a child upon seeing that his or her parents are there to give support and encouragement.
Parents’ availability and involvement in their children’s lives is of great importance. They said that “Love can be spelled out as T-I-M-E,” and I firmly believe that this is true. Important lessons in life can be taught when you spend time with your kids. Corrections on beliefs and behavior can never be made without the parents taking time to see what their children are doing. It is our responsibility as parents to train, discipline, and instruct our children (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4) but we cannot do that if we do not have time for them. Fourthly, be fair, firm and consistent.
I firmly believe that for discipline to be effective, these three elements should be present. What do I mean when I say this? A lot of times, we parents set rules and routines at home that our children should follow and adhere to. We also inform them of the consequences of their actions and inability to obey the rules. The question is, “Do they understand what we want them to do? ” We need to be clear with what we expect from them. Whenever I instruct my children, I ask them to repeat, and if possible, explain what I am asking them to do so that I am sure that they understand what I am saying.
Another problem is that sometimes we are not firm in our follow through. We do not mean what we say. This causes confusion our kids. Rules are good because they are structures that make children feel secure. Routines, on the other hand, allow our children to function more effectively and help them to be aware of what we expect from them. But the objective of these, no matter how good our rules and how orderly our routines are, will never be accomplished if we are not firm and consistent in dealing with our kids and their misbehaviors.
The consequences that we give them should be appropriate for the offense done. I think it is but right to assess our discipline style every now and then since our children also grow up. What may work for them before when they were younger might not work for them now as “tweeners” or teenagers. In our home I/we treat my/our two teenagers differently from the way I/we treat my/our youngest. Whenever a rule is given or limits are set, we talk to our two children and explain to them why we give out certain rules or limits.
We also tell them what might happen if the rule is not obeyed or followed. Because they are in their teens and are already able to make their own decisions, we want them to feel that we respect them by allowing them to voice out their opinions about what the rule that we are establishing. We want them to see that the limits are there not to inhibit them but to help them develop self-control while enjoying their independence within the set rule. I learned from our class that authority should be based on wisdom and not power.
That is why we want them to be see that we are not manipulating them rather encouraging them to appreciate and benefit from the wisdom and experience that God has bestowed upon us all these years. We are also very careful when it comes to how consistent we are in our discipline. In my readings it was also emphasized that discipline should be given at all time no matter what our moods are. By doing this, our children are more aware of what to expect also from us. They cannot judge us as unpredictable because they know that we mean what we say.
Lastly, I would want my children to always be reminded of Joshua 24:15 “…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. ” It is the desire of my heart that they would value God and His ministry. It will be a failure for me if my children will not use their talents and strength in serving the Lord. My prayer is that the God will use them to reach out to people in their circle that do not have a personal relationship with the Lord, that their lives will be a living Bible to those who have not read it.
As parents it is our goal that our kids will be involved in the ministry too, not necessarily in fulltime service, but that they will see the need to evangelize. Exposing them to church work will be beneficial for their character development because I know that apart from the influence they get from us, there are mature Christian individuals in church who can also have an impact on their lives.
My dream for my children is for them to live a godly life and to someday produce godly offspring too. In closing, I was reminded by the saying that: “There is no more important job in society than raising children, nd no more important influence on how children develop than their parents. ” Indeed, parents play a very crucial and important role in the lives of their children. I pray that the relationship that my husband and I have with our kids will serve as the foundation of their relationship with others. I also pray that we can develop a godly character in them while they are in our care. We always hold ourselves accountable to the Lord for what our children will become because they are His and not ours. We are just stewards of these treasures from the Lord.