From an article in Parents magazine: many parents believe that the “more time, energy, attention, and money they can devote to their children the better,” but “In the final analysis, there are important things we can’t do.” Here are some of the things the author suggested, and my thoughts on each.
1. We can’t make our kids happy
You cannot “make” anyone happy. “Happiness is based on happenings. Joy is an inside job.” We can do our best to make our home reflect the joy of Christ. And we can help our children learn to be content (Philippians 4:11). (I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.) Living out both of these aims, as well as purposely teaching our children strategies to recover when something doesn’t go well, is our responsibility.
2. We can’t give our kids high self-esteem
Typically, it is other kids who rob children of their self-esteem. Help your child realize that the classmates who hurt others are actually individuals who are hurting personally. This does not make it “fair,” but it is a good perspective. In truth, a healthy self-esteem comes from a child knowing he or she is loved by God. And this is only enhanced when you applaud your child for a job well done. Make your home a place of encouragement, and connect your child with encouraging adults through a kid-friendly church.
3. We can’t make friends for our children
We also cannot micromanage their relationships. You might be surprised that your kids can sometimes do a better job of choosing suitable friends than you can. Your responsibility is to teach your child how to make good choices and how to be a friend.
4. We can’t keep our children completely safe
But we can drive them crazy trying. Keep in mind the benefit of encouraging “safe risks.” Your child may not be ready for the lead in the church Christmas play, but how about encouraging a reticent child to be a part of the Angel Choir? Help your children stretch a little from their comfort zones. Will they always succeed? No, but your children need to experience disappointment and failure and even skin their knees a time or two while they are still in your care. This will give you the opportunity to teach them how to recover. And remember the harm you can do by being a helicopter parent—the parents who try to protect at all costs run the risk of making their children anxious and incapable of independence. Be smart, and allow a responsible child more and more freedom.
What CAN mom and dad do?
The Bible is full of answers.
1. Seek first his kingdom—Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
2. Trust in the Lord—Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
3. Ask for wisdom—James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
4. Train up your children—Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
5. Teach your children—Deuteronomy 11:19: “Teach them [the words of God] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” And surround your family with a solid Christian community!
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Any “Can’ts” you would like to add?
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