Parents teach their children many things whether they intend to or not. It is often said, “more is caught than taught.” Your children learn from you every day. The question is, are they learning the right thing from your example.
Here are some important things that you can purposefully teach your children. Certainly there are many other things that are important in life. Take this list as a starting point for parenting on purpose.
Your kids should know that they are loved. They should see your love in the way you act towards them and they should also hear you say it. You should love their mother in an honest and visible way. Children need to feel secure in their home surrounded by love.
Children need to know that when they do what is right, regardless of what is popular with their friends, that they have a supporter and advocate in their father. They should be praised when they make right choices. We, as dads, don’t get a chance to see all the decisions our kids make. However, the good decisions we know about should be applauded and approved. This is the positive reinforcement they need to give them the bravery they need to make the right decision when you are not around to see them.
Children should learn to work and be part of the family structure and productivity. I am not talking about unreasonable child labor; but each child should learn what their responsibilities are and be expected to fulfill them. This sets them up for being a productive member of society so that they can serve God properly while serving others around them.
When I was growing up I heard this quote constantly from my mentor: “You now are, or soon will be, what your friends are.” I don’t know who originated that quote, but it has stuck with me. I have carefully chosen my friends through the years based on the fact that I knew I would become like them. We need to teach our children the same thing. Teach your children to choose right friends. Help them with that process. Point out to them what makes a good friend and help them find people of good character to spend their time with.
Love God Supremely
If your children learn to love God above all else, then so many decisions in life will be much easier. When I was in Bible college we often debated about what a priority list would look like in the life of a Christian minister. Should the ministry or your marriage be first? Should the needs of a dear widow in the church be before or after the needs of your own children? These types of decisions are much easier to make when the priority is on loving God first. There are times when rushing to the hospital at 7 o’clock in the evening is more important than taking time to help your child with their homework. And, there are times when the opposite is true. That can only be sorted out when you allow God’s Holy Spirit to guide you in each decision. Your children can learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading if you will help them learn to love God above all other things.
Children should learn to admit their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. This will only be learned by them if they have good examples to follow. You need to admit your own mistakes and own up to your actions. By blaming the police officer for giving you a ticket when you were speeding, you are teaching your children the wrong thing.
There are some mistakes that we make as adults that our 2 year old children won’t understand. Therefore, we don’t necessarily need to confess everything to them. However, as they grow older, you should use your own poor decisions as an opportunity to teach life lessons on accepting responsibility.
Along with taking responsibility is the idea of being honest. Be truthful in your business dealings and teach your children to do the same. When you “stretch the truth” (i.e., lie) for your own benefit, remember that young ears are listening much more carefully than you hoped they would. We teach by example and our example should be an honest one.
These truths are important for your children to learn. They will learn them best and more deeply if they learn them from you.
Read more about parenting from David here: Christian Parenting Advice for Raising Teenagers