Parenting can be exhausting. Children can give you sleepless nights whether they are teething, testing your limits or awkwardly asserting their independence. My wife Camille and I have found that parenting can bring some of the greatest joys and some of the greatest challenges in life!
I have refrained to say much about parenting up to this point, but our oldest son is now off at college and is thriving (as our our other boys- aged 17 and 13). I know that we were not the perfect parents, but we are now beginning to enjoy the rewards of establishing our priorities in raising our children.
If you have children of any age, here are some of the ways that we have invested into our boys to help them thrive in every area of their lives:
- Transmitting Faith– New studies are probing into what makes the difference between a child who struggles with their faith and the child who has a growing relationship with God. The key factor? The parents model a genuine faith in Christ to the children. That’s it. When there are inconsistencies between behaviour and beliefs, or when the parent is not willing to own their issues and deal with them- the child senses a disconnect. Nothing is more important than authentically, transparently and consistently living out the way of Jesus.
- Investing Time– Families today are abdicating their primary place of influence in the life of their children to outside influences- whether it be friends, social media or Hollywood. Whoever has the most time with your children will mould their values and their worldview. Take back this primary place of influence. Get as creative as you can! We even took a three month Sabbatical with our boys in an old motor home and headed south with no particular destination in mind! You will never regret the influence that is gained in your child’s life through the currency of time.
- Instilling Compassion– Children need to see the value of loving others and exercising their gifts to help others. The best way for them to learn this? You guessed it- by having them learn alongside you! Whether it is helping a neighbour move, helping to alleviate poverty or going on a short-term missions trip- children need to see that they are not the centre of the universe and that they are a force to be reckoned with! One of our proudest moments as parents came when our three young boys decided to forego their allowance so they could sponsor a child with Compassion- Nestor from Togo!
- Taking Responsibility– Whenever we navigate challenges at work or in relationships or at church, our kids are watching. They need to see us taking responsibility in terms of doing our best to be at peace with all people. They need to see us owning our issues rather than blaming others. They need to see us working hard rather than expecting someone else to do that for us. When kids see their parents taking responsibility something magical happens- they become responsible children!
At the end of the day, children will make their own decisions in life, but making these kinds of investments dramatically increases their chances of succeeding in life.
So, tonight our family will spend some time together. A few of us are going away for 16 days and leaving our seventeen year old at home alone. Tonight he had the option to hang out with friends, but he paid us the highest compliment by wanting to hang out and have some family time before we leave.
That warms my heart and helps me to realize- every investment we make into our children is worth it!
PS- What are some creative ways that you enjoy investing into your children?