I recently asked my Facebook friends to tell me some of their best memories as children when they truly felt connected to their parents. Answer after answer came in of my friends reminiscing about some of their favorite moments with their parents. Overwhelmingly, activities revolving around quality time were the top answers. Trips to the store, vacations, snuggling up to their parents as they read to them, mealtime around the table, helping their mom in the kitchen, getting help with their homework, family devotions, and so on.
Reading these answers really made me ponder my life and my priorities right now as a parent. Childhood is incredibly influential on who we become as adults and yet most of us have just a handful or so of memories. What memories will my kids take with them into adulthood? Dad and Mom scrolling on their phones or sighing as they have to pause the television to address another kid that is out of bed at bedtime? Dad and Mom prioritizing insignificant things over them? Or will they remember the time, the quality time more specifically, that we invested into them because they were well worth it?
The window of time that we have to raise our children is incredibly short. Television, entertainment, scrolling on Facebook, etc are all find and dandy with limitations, but I’m afraid we aren’t looking up enough to see our kids growing up right before our very eyes. As you’ve most likely heard before, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Are we caught-up in the day-to-day grind or are we remembering that we are raising future adults and that we have a very short time to do so? I spoke recently at a ladies’ event in Brownsboro, Texas. This event and the topics I was given to speak on really challenged me to think about how I would sum up what I find most important in regards to bringing up children in the Lord. Let’s disconnect from our electronics more often and remember how important it is to connect with our kiddos. It’s our job to:
1) RAISE THEM UP
~ We have to remember Whose they are! I can’t help but picture the Lion King when Simba is being lifted up to the sky. ☺ It’s kind of how we should see our kids. They aren’t ours. They are on loan. So we need to lift them right back up to the Maker and understand that what He says is most important and that how He wants me to raise these kids takes precedence over anything else. They are His children so what decisions do I need to make to ensure they are being raised the way the Lord wants them to be raised?
2) TRAIN THEM UP
~ Isn’t it funny how we kind of forget that our kids don’t exit the womb knowing all that they need to know? It’s not their Sunday School teacher’s job, it’s not their school teacher’s job, it’s not their pastor’s job and it’s certainly not the t.v. or their friends’ job to properly teach them. It’s OUR job! I know I’m not the only one who feels like my kitchen is incredibly tiny and suffocating when every last kid is invading my space. The first thing I want to do is shoo them out. But maybe next time, let’s try inviting them in for some learning and quality time. Remember – in a blink of an eye they’ll be married with children. Have we properly equipped them? Practical teaching is so important! I can’t help but also think of how important it is to FILL THEIR MINDS. That’s the most important training of all. Don’t let the world do this for you. You are in charge of them so you decide what gets the privilege of filling up their minds. Christian lyrics, Christian movies and ideas, Bible verses, lessons and reading, Patch the Pirate playing in their cd players at night as they drift off to sleep, their AWANA CDs with verses being read to them over and over…the list goes on and on. Their thoughts become their beliefs. Their minds are battlegrounds. There are innumerable things fighting to win over your child’s mind. Do what you can to train them by filling their minds with what pleases the Lord. Does it fit the Philippians 4:8 filter? Then you’re good to go.
3) BUILD THEM UP
~ “ A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Prov. 25:11) Isn’t this verse so beautiful and accurate? Words are so, so powerful. Guilt floods over me when I think of some of the things I’ve said to my kids to get them to listen to me or to make them feel badly about something they’ve done wrong. Today. Right this minute. Stop what you are doing and humbly apologize to your kids for anything you’ve said that may have hurt them. Then determine, in this very moment, that you will make changes and start to build them up instead of tear them down. Words matter. I know you agree with me because if you paused for a minute, you could think of mean things that someone said to you in high school. You could think of something a coach or a parent or a so-called friend blurted out to you that you will never, ever forget. So yes, words matter. They carry a lot of weight. Keep that in mind today as you parent these little gifts from God. Affirm them in every way possible. Remember: “It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult…choose your words wisely.”
4) POINT THEM UP
~ In every single situation, teach them to keep the perspective that we are here on this earth to glorify our Maker. Point them to the Lord as often as you can. Make everything center around this truth. Becki Rogers wrote a book called, “Not Quite Supermoms of the Bible”. I immediately identified with this title. ☺ Something she wrote at the beginning of her book really stuck out to me: “Can I honestly say I am His servant in my role as a mom? Or do I feel ownership, like they were my kids to begin with? Let it not be so! Just as Jesus came from the Father, our precious children are gifts from His hands, planted here in our lives, in our homes for a short while for us to raise, love and nurture. And don’t doubt it for one moment: you too, sweet Momma, are His highly favored, blessed servant. He trusts YOU with His kids. Magnify and worship Him in return and point those kids back to their Heavenly Father.”
5) DON’T GIVE UP
~ 18 summers with your kids…and that’s not even guaranteed. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14) If our entire earthly life is just a vapor, then think of how much shorter our time is with our kids. We absolutely cannot give up. Our kids need us. They don’t just need us to be their chauffeur or their biggest fan. They need us to be their example of Christ. “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (I Corinthians 11:1). We won’t be perfect, but we follow a perfect Savior who loves us and gives us mounds and mounds of fresh grace each day. As long as we have breath on this earth, we cannot give up on our kids. They are precious gifts from God and they need parents who are going to stand firm in the faith.
We have one of the most important jobs in the world: Raising children to love and serve the Lord with their whole hearts. You want to connect with your children in this wireless world? They need us to love them, hug them, forgive them, raise them up, train them up, build them, point them up and never, ever give up.