Several weeks ago Kevin DeYoung wrote a helpful post entitled, “The Great Parental Freakout.” As a parent, I can certainly relate to DeYoung’s assessment that parents freak out over things that at the end of the day are not that important, like how many vegetables your kids regularly eat. (My kids do eat some by the way, whether they enjoy them or not.) There are plenty of things parents can get in a twist over that 15 or 20 years from now will not matter. What matters most for parents are to focus on being consistent with the things that will impact your kid for years to come.
DeYoung offers the following areas for consideration.
- Be a consistent disciplinarian. Kids need structure and boundaries. Whatever rules you decide for your family, keep them and enforce them fairly. Life is full of rules. It would be a good idea for our kids to get used to them. Although consistent discipline is difficult for most parents, it is something that is worth doing well, not only since it is commanded in Scripture (Eph 6:4), but also for the lasting impact it will have on your child. In addition, discipline is one of the ways we show our kids that we love them. In doing so, we model something of the Father’s love for his children (Heb 12:5–6).
- Make spirituality a part of the home. By this DeYoung means having some sort of “family worship,” a set time in which the whole family gathers together typically for prayer, reading Scripture, and singing.[i] (Our family does the first two. We haven’t done the singing bit yet, although we occasionally sing hymns to our kids as they go to sleep.) This is something the family does beyond regular worship at church, which is also important. Having family worship will not be easy, especially with little ones. Their minds tend to wander, as do parts of their body, especially their mouths. But let me assure you, they are listening. They are taking things in. My oldest daughter usually asks questions about something we are reading in Scripture together, and I’ve found she is able to bring together different things she has heard and learned from the Bible to come to understand a new truth for her. My youngest can be found singing made up songs about something we may have read or talked about from the Bible. It can be tough, but persevere.
- Make sure your home is a fun and safe environment for your kids. Joke with your kids. Play games with them, especially when they ask you to play with them. Don’t put off entering into their world to do something more “important.” Nothing is more important than accepting your child’s invitation to spend time with them, whether it means playing with dolls, going on an adventure through the yard or park, or just being in the same room with them while they play. This is one thing that still makes an impact on me. My home was a fun home. It was a place I felt loved and accepted. I hope I can make my girls’ home the same kind of place for them.
I think it’s appropriate to close this post the same way DeYoung ends his:
The world doesn’t depend on you being perfect. And neither do your kids. So do what you can, be grateful for what you have, and pray like crazy.