12 Godly Ways to Love Your Children

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life is parent a child. Add your Christian faith to the equation, and the task can seem even more impossible. A child is not an adult, so when we invest in any parenting technique, we must remember that a child’s mind does not function like our own. They don’t have the reference of life as we do and they don’t have nearly as many expectations. I am certainly not an expert in this field, all I have is my own experience along with trial and error. But, I do hope the following tips will give you encouragement and possibly ideas you hadn’t thought of before. 

1. Teach them self-discipline.

It starts with the small things, like cleaning their room. Train them to put things where they belong when they are out of place. Teach them the old adage “A place for everything and everything in its place”. Help them extend that discipline to the rest of your house and yard. Help them see that orderliness matters, and force them to make decisions about what is important and what is not. Learning self-discipline in the little things prepares them for the big things. Those who are undisciplined in small matters will likely be undisciplined in more important issues. In the words of Solomon, it is the little foxes that ruin the vine (Song of Sol. 2:15). Self-discipline concepts should also carry over into how your child is taught to take care of their own bodies. Proper instructions in eating habits and exercise routines are imperative and will lead to much healthier and self-disciplined adults.

2. Teach them not to be too busy.

If you find yourself spending more time hustling your children out the front door than you spend enjoying time with them, then something is wrong. It’s so easy to want to give your children the experience of everything and it’s tempting to let them sign up for everything they want to do. I have found myself pressured by the activities that “all the other kids” are doing. In today’s world, it’s so easy to over-commit ourselves and our children with responsibilities and activities. But, we are not teaching them how to recognize their own limits and how to prioritize their time. They need time to be children, time to plan their own activities. If every moment is structured, they have no time to make any of their own decisions.

3. Teach them the value of education.

A well-educated child will become a better citizen and will have a greater chance at a productive future. Educated individuals have a better understanding of their opportunities beyond the family circle and beyond their communities. Education informs of us our rights and of our history. Education is necessary for appropriate decision-making and a healthy self-confidence. Be involved with your child’s teachers and make sure that the child knows that you are involved and are up-to-date on what they are learning. Read to your children and allow them to read to you. A love of reading is a great foundation for future learning. Finally, the greatest way to teach the value of education is to never stop learning yourself.

4. Teach them how to learn on their own.

What do Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs, and Walt Disney all have in common? They were self-educated! I’m not suggesting that formal education be done away with, but I am concerned that so many of our children are just taught to take whatever the teacher says as absolute truth. Give your child some time to learn on their own, have them choose the content. Help them set their own schedule and see them learn with passion! Self-directed learning creates a sense of accomplishment and leads to a productive life. Don’t forget to encourage them to include music and art in their content. Music and art are languages that all people speak. Both provide an almost unparalleled opportunity for self-expression and self-esteem building. It helps them develop both independence and teamwork. It has been proven that the arts improve academic achievement by enhancing test scores, creativity, critical thinking and social skills.

5. Teach them to play.

 Kids don’t know how to play anymore. Most kids spend their free time, if they have any, in front of a television, computer or video game.  Parents are afraid to let them go out and play unattended because of sexual predators and/or because they don’t know their own neighbors. This a tragedy of a sinful world, but no excuse. If you are afraid to let your children outside, then go out with them. Get to know your neighbors. Limit television and computer access. Require some outside play, and refrain from scheduling every moment of your child’s time. Play with them, but make them choose the activity and the play decisions. Making decisions during play helps them make decisions in life.

6. Teach them to keep their promises.

I personally don’t like any promises except those made by my Savior. He’s truly the only one that we should ever rely on because the rest of us are human. The Bible tells us, in Matthew 5:36, not to swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. It should be obvious, but most of us need the reminder that we cannot control the future. We should teach our kids that their word is the same as a promise. If they develop the habit of standing by their word, there’s no need to make promises. If the time comes that they cannot stand by their word, then show them how to make amends with the person who depended upon them. The first and best way to teach this is by keeping our word to them.

7. Teach them work ethic.

It is unbelievable how many adults I know that were never taught work ethics, including Christians. It is a mystery to me that God-fearing Christians think there is nothing wrong with stealing from their employers by not showing up for work and/or doing very little while they are there. My only conclusion to this ailment is that they were never taught to have a work ethic. If your children reach their teenage years without having any chores to do or having any responsibilities, you have done them a great disservice. Refrain from paying your children for everything you ask them to do. They have to be taught that work is part of life and that there are rewards to working besides money. 

8. Teach them to laugh.

The Bible teaches us that there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Allow your children to see you laugh, including laughing at yourself.  Humor is a very effective means of managing our emotions. Nurturing our child’s sense of humor with silly play helps them practice gaining mastery of their feelings for those times in life when things don’t happen quite the way we think they should. Laughter and a sense of humor is necessary for life balance.

9. Teach them to communicate.

Communication skills are vital. Studies show that effective communicators are happier, do better in school and are more successful than those less eloquent. The most important communication skill is listening. Don’t forget that tone of voice, virtual, and non-verbal communication are also important concepts. When you talk to your children, refrain from interrogation, and ask them questions that require more than ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers. Allow them to express themselves and observe their favorite modes of expression. Use those modes to help them with other forms of expression. With the prominence of computer communication and texting, it’s also important to remind your children about “old-fashioned” writing skills by having them write personal thank you notes and letters when possible.  

10. Teach them charity.

The most important thing to teach your children about charity is that it is always possible to give, even when you don’t have any money. They must realize as early as possible that money is not a requirement to be able to give sacrificially. Teaching volunteerism and hospitality are other great ways to teach charity and the spirit of giving. When discussing charity with your children, it’s also the perfect time to teach them about saving and spending money.

11. Teach them respect.

Respect for anyone starts with respect for oneself. Self-worth is the foundation of respect for others. Make your child feel special whenever possible. Do something special for them on a day that is not special. Never be afraid or too busy to let them know that you are proud of them for who they are, not connected to their performance. Always remember to let them know, by telling them, that you love them. Actions do speak louder than words but neither children, nor adults, should be deprived of hearing the words. And give your children some space. Children need to learn to appreciate some time alone, time to daydream, time to journal, time to think. Sometimes we forget that children are people too. 

12. Teach them to pray.

The easiest way to teach your child to pray is to ensure that they see you do it. Pray with them, on your knees. But, make sure they know that they can pray anywhere, anytime, out loud and inside their minds. Ensure they know the Lord’s prayer, our instructions on how to pray. Teach them about the Holy Spirit. Let them know that the Holy Spirit communicates with our spirits so that God knows exactly what we need and that we can learn from the Holy Spirit, as well. Most importantly, let them know why it is that we, as Christians, can pray directly to God without sacrifice. Teach them that Jesus Christ is our intermediary.

I know this list is not exhaustive, very far from it.  But, I can’t think of any that are more important than these. Is there a way that you show your love for your children that you feel should have been included here? Please share it with me. God bless you and your family.

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