I want to be sure everyone is aware, this information is not from me. These awesome words of wisdom come from my pastor, Rod Loy, who is a very Godly man and a much more experienced parent than I am. He has two sons, one who is around age 20 or 21 and the other is 18. He shared this with us last night at church, and it's too good to keep to myself. So, here goes...
Principles for effective, Godly parenting:
1. Be physically affectionate with your children.
Don't let a day go by without telling them that you love them and hugging/kissing them.
2. Model sacrifice.
Sacrifice should not be unusual. It is a part of following Jesus. Let your kids see that.
3. Teach your children an outward focus.
Be open with your giving. Let them know it is a habit and a lifestyle. Open your home to people who need you and your family. There is joy in giving to others.
4. Don't interfere with your children's peer problems and conflicts.
They have to learn to manage conflict at some point. Let them do it while they still have a safety net.
5. Encourage other healthy voices in their lives.
Kids need other spiritual leaders in their lives they can talk to and with. It needs to be the right people. It doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes a church (that's one of my favorites!).
6. Worship and pray in front of your children.
Your kids need to see you visibly love God.
7. Apologize when you make parenting mistakes.
Your kids already know you made the mistake. You will gain respect from them when you do this.
8. Don't try to be fair and equal if you have more than one child.
Kids need to learn that life is not fair and equal all of the time. You don't have to treat your children the same because they aren't the same. (Bet that stings for a lot of you!)
The other thing he shared is what I consider to be the most important thing of all, what he and his wife wish they'd done differently. Here it is:
Don't raise your children based on your expectations or what other people may think. Raise them to please God first, not you or other people. The only thing that should truly matter is that your children become life-long followers of Jesus Christ. Consider what matters to you most - it shouldn't be all the little details or making you or someone else happy; it should be that your children become life-long followers of Christ (noticing a theme here?). Make that decision now, and parent toward that one goal. There will be a lot less stress in your life and your home if you put aside your expectations for your child and concern for what others think. What is the absolute best place for your child? (My Daddy has told me this every day) In the center of God's will.
So, I hope this helps some of you. I know it was eye-opening and helpful to me. I plan to put every one of those principles into action and to focus on what really matters - raising kids who know and love the Lord and seek to follow Him daily. The rest is just details.