Looking Outside our Walls
This is such an important topic we have written another series on teaching your child to serve. Click here to view the week long series on this.
And as always listen to today’s podcast for more on finding the balance of family and individuality.
There are many things that we can do as a family to help our children look outward to the needs of others. Today’s child will fight a battle of not even knowing how to interact appropriately with others, if we allow devices and social media free reign in their lives. One of the first things that we can do to help them see what’s truly going on around them at hands reach, is helping them place boundaries on devices. Having set aside unplugged family time is a great way to do this. Taking turns discussing what is going on in each other’s lives at this dinner table is a simple way to start. A child listening to how a parent’s or sibling’s day went is a very simple and easy way to look past their own self.
The next step is taking time to train your child to “see a need, fill a need”, a great quote from the kids movie Robots. This can start in your own home but it will take some time and encouragement. Little things like taking their own plate to the sink after meals and not leaving it for someone else to clear is such a simple way to start. Next you can take it a step further by creating a random acts of kindness game. Go crazy if you catch your child doing something nice for another family member, like not only clearing their plate but taking mom’s as well. In the Girls home, I had a white board on my office door where I would write a quick sentence for all to see if I could catch one girl being kind to another. This attitude of service is caught and taught. What are ways you can positively reinforce this attitude in your home?
We touched on this yesterday, why it is imperative to teach our children to function in a unit. If our goals for parenting are to raise a child to become a Godly adult who is both marriageable and employable, then teaching a child how to “lay down self” is an extremely important lesson. We have all been around people who are just 30 year old adolescents. They give in to their every whim or desire regardless of the needs of those around them. This is not a desirable characteristic for an employee or a spouse.
We mentioned yesterday how Philippians tells us to value others before yourself. Romans explains why we do this. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” We lay down our will and desires not only because it is in our best interest to function in a unit, but because it is an act of worship to God.
Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.
Today’s cultural focus is the individual. If we are not careful we can allow this to impact our parenting. We are told to value “me time” or that we “deserve” certain things, even if it is to the detriment of others. This seems to be blatantly obvious anytime we are out on the road, it’s hard to find a lot of selfless drivers. Now while it is important to celebrate each special quality that makes our children unique, the gifts and talents that God gave them, we have to find balance and help them learn to thrive in a unit. In today’s “selfie” culture we are raising a generation that if we are not conscious, will not be marriageable and employable.
I think we could all agree that we want our children to be selfless not selfish. In fact this is imperative if we are Christ followers. Christ taught us in order to lead we must serve. Philippians 2:3 tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest but each of you to the interest of the others.”
How are we living out our faith in front of our children? Are we a family who lives out what it means to have a relationship with Jesus or are we merely a family who follows a list of religious do’s and don’ts? Is this relationship something that permeates all aspects of our family life or is it simply something we do on Sunday? The very core and center of what we do, should be focused on opportunities to teach our child about Christ. For more on this click here to see our week long series on how to raise a disciple.
Always check out the podcast for more insight.
There are several areas we can allow the culture to impact how we parent. The first is keeping a crazy schedule. It seems like there is a belief that if I keep my children busy they won’t get into trouble. The problem with that is then training your child gets placed on the back burner. Another area of cultural influence can be the concept of all work and no play. With all the busyness and homework in our children’s lives we must make sure to carve out time for family fun. Our culture also seems to have our children growing up too fast. We need to remember that our children are still children. We need to have realistic expectations of what they are capable of but have a plan for when unacceptable childish behavior happens. Parents have to be sure to work as a team to create the plan for training their children. We must set aside a time to talk as a team weekly, to make sure that we are on and stay on the same page. This is just the “tip of the iceberg” of areas we can let culture impact our parenting. Even if it is counter cultural we must make parenting our children one of our top priorities behind our relationship with God and our spouse. Take time out to evaluate how you may be allowing culture to influence your parenting.
Because this is so easy to do, we probably need to constantly monitor to make sure that we aren’t allowing our issues to impact our parenting. This battle may be greater then ever before. One of the issues that can impact how we parent, is the temptation to compare our children to others. To feel superior or defeated by how our child “stacks up” to children around them. That is far too much pressure to put on our child. It is also attempting to meet our self worth needs through the performance of our child. Another area where we can be tempted to find our self worth, is how we are performing. While pinterest has been an amazing place to find ideas to help all areas of home life, it can also add a lot of pressure. Pressure to make sure we are organizing like this, cooking like that, creatively crafting with our children and making every holiday an extreme blow out. While all of these things can be good, we cannot allow ourselves to get wrapped up in this and miss the important parts of parenting, such as being there for our kids, listening to their hearts and simply spending time with them. These are just a few small examples of how we can let our own issues get in the way of parenting and make it harder.
The whole goal of parenting should be to raise Godly children who will become responsible adults. This will make them marriageable and employable. To do this we should be giving them more and more responsibilities as they age. They can earn more privileges and freedoms as they prove themselves responsible. Sometimes this means allowing natural consequences to occur. It is tempting for us to fall into the trap of rescuing our children. If we keep rescuing our child for something like forgetting their homework, we are actually enabling their irresponsibility. We also need to hold them accountable, make sure they are doing what they say and following instructions. Another area we need to be working on with our children is teaching them how to share, give and sacrifice for others. This is an extremely important lesson to have learned before going into marriage. Siblings help a parent to train in these lessons. Make sure you are encouraging and applauding when you see one child sacrificing, no matter how small, for their sibling. Keep the end goal of parenting at the forefront of your mind and remember that we are raising our children for adulthood.
Many have said that parenting isn’t for the feint of heart. Parenting is hard work! Unfortunately, there are things that we can do to make it much more difficult then it has to be. The first thing that will make life a lot more difficult is to not instill respect for authority in our children. This can make things much more difficult at home and sets our child up for failure, not only at school but as an adult. This is such an important issue we spent a week discussing how and why to teach respect to your children. Click here to see that series.