home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > September 30th > 5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS


This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

 

THE JOY AND PRIVILEGE OF PARENTING

Becoming a parent is a privilege not a right. Having and raising children is one of the primary goals for a couple when they get married. From the outset it is important to understand that children do not need parents – they need their father and mother. Any single parent will tell you that it is tough being a single parent. Every single parent has twice the responsibility and only have half the resources when compared to the ideal situation afforded by loving a husband and wife who together raise their child/ren. The partnership of a father and a mother in raising their children is an investment of their time often demanding a great sacrifice personal and even career ambitions. Reflecting on this one mother recently told me, “Sure being a mother is hard work but it is far more rewarding than being the winner of some tennis Grand Slam tournament!” Many young people set off on the journey of married life together expecting that they can start a family at the time of their choosing only to discover that this is not always the case — and even sadly, for some, may never be the case. So, if the Good LORD blesses you with a child in your own marriage journey, you are indeed blessed and privileged, even on those inevitable days when your child is ratty and snooty!  And it’s on those days that it’s going to be difficult for you to appreciate what I am now about to state: without the partnership of committed principle-guided fathers and mothers raising their children, our society does not have hope of seeing God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.
Proverbs 17:6

Indispensable guideline #1 for new parents, Be consistent- children need routine!Indispensable guideline #1 for new parents, Be consistent – children need routine!

Consistent routines are essential for a child to feel secure. Children are set up to flourish when they up brought up in a secure environment. These routines provide predictability and boundaries. Routines such as bedtime preparation (putting toys away, bathing, pyjamas, and bedtime chats/stories/prayers), mealtime preparation (cleaning up whatever they were playing with, helping to set the table, clearing away dishes from the table, putting all the condiments back in the pantry, washing and drying the dishes), getting in the car preparations (make sure your bed is made, things removed from the bedroom floor and put back where they belong, towels returned to the bathroom and hang-up to dry, socks on shoes on, and depending on the occasion – bags packed).  Of course, mum and dad should model daily routines as they establish consistent bed times, meal times, get-up times, for their child.

Parents need to be appropriate and consistent with discipline and consequences. As your child gets older the appropriateness of the discipline will change – but your consistency should not and discipline should never be done in anger! 

¶ A refusal to correct is a refusal to love;
love your children by disciplining them.
Proverbs 13:24 THE MESSAGE

Indispensable guideline #2 for new parents, Have a dinner table - dinner time is not just about food!Indispensable guideline #2 for new parents, Have a Dinner Table – Dinner time is not just about food!

A family dinner table is the sacred meeting venue for a daily family rendezvous. It is the place for daily updates, pastoring by parents, training (where children learn the social skills of staying at the table until everyone else has finished their meal), learning to show thankfulness and appreciation even for unfamiliar food (a social skill necessary whenever dining at someone’s house overseas for example [note 1Cor. 10:27), and it is a place where a father can shepherd his child’s heart by asking questions requiring appropriate thought. The family dining table is the place where each one seated at it is accepted. It is at this sacred dining table where children witness their parents welcoming and accepting occasional guests (even the friends of their children). Jesus Christ often used a dining table as a place where He accepted people, and parents should seek to emulate this to their children.

¶ And as He reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and His disciples,
for there were many who followed Him.
Mark 2:15

Indispensable guideline #3 for new parents, Work as a United Team - Do not disagree in front of your children!Indispensable guideline #3 for new parents, Work As A Team – Do not disagree in front of your children!

Parents must agree about how they are going to parent their children and never never disagree with each other in front of their children about how they are to discipline their child’s misbehaviour. All children have a knack for exploiting divisions between their parents – so don’t give them any unnecessary opportunity to do so! I do not, however, want to be misunderstood though. I am not suggesting that your child/ren should never see his or her parents disagree. In fact, parents should model how to resolve disagreements in front of their child/ren. (Hopefully most married couples will remember from their marriage preparation sessions the difference between fighting and arguing.) This is why it is critical for new parents to not neglect their own relationship with each other. Your weekly date is critically important, and your regular quiet end-of-day couch time when your child/ren is/are in bed is similarly indispensable. The strength of any parent-child relationship is grounded in the strength of your marriage.

¶ I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
First Corinthians 1:10

Indispensable guideline #4 for new parents, Read Books to Your Child – Books enthral, enchant, excite, and educate a child like nothing else can!

Parents should introduce their child/ren to books from the earliest age because books will let them know that they are not the centre of this world. From picture books with just one or two words on each page, and then progressively to books with more words on each page than pictures, then, as your child grows to understand the power of words which convey concepts, books that are just words. Books are a divinely ordained means by which ideas can be communicated as evidenced by the Bible itself and its encouragement to learn from books as seen in the examples of the apostles who often cited and referred to non-Biblical books (note Acts 17:28 and  2Tim. 4:13). Parents should familiarise their children with as many of the world’s great books as they can (refer to Mortimer J. Adler’s list of Great Books). The act of reading a physical book to your child sends a profound message. Books are then seen as a source of information, entertainment, education, and inspiration for your child/ren. Reading good and appropriate books to your child sets him or her up to learn how to learn and concentrate.  

Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance
Proverbs 1:5

Indispensable guideline #5 for new parents, Commit to Your Church - Show your child why God is great!Indispensable guideline #5 for new parents, Commit to Your Church – Show your child why God is great!

Children need to learn that they are members of two families – their natural family and their spiritual-community (church) family. Parents should make a commitment to making attending church with their children as one of their highest priorities. When children watch their parents make attending church one of the most important parts of their week, they come to see that God must be great, very great. Even when they are young and it may mean that either parent has to sit with or nurse their child at the expense of their own worship experience, it sends a tremendously powerful and fruitful message to their children. Enrolling them into Kids Church when they are old enough and then having them join the church’s youth group when they commence High School, will pay enormous dividends both socially and spiritually. Being a part of a church community is something every parent should teach their children from birth so that they have the best opportunity to come to know Christ from the earliest age.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:4-5

Parenting is a great blessing. Kim and I have been blessed by the Lord giving us four grown children (with just one left at home). I strongly encourage every prospective parent to plan now on how they can learn to be the best father of mother they can be. The result could potentially be the transformation of our culture.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down,
and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.

THINK ABOUT THIS

In Australia, it’s football finals time and the U.S. the last Grand Slam event for the year has just concluded. I find a lot of life lessons from observing elite athletes — including and especially those who play football and those who play tennis. Most people might consider football to be a team sport and tennis to be individual sport. But the distinction is not so clear these days. Often times footballers are individually coached by “position coaches” and a tennis player is often just who the public sees of a team of people responsible for the performance of that player. At the time of writing, there are remaining four Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams about to play off in the Preliminary Finals (including my beloved Geelong Cats). Last weekend, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain defeated Casper Ruud of Norway. Both players have intriguing stories which I will mention shortly. In the AFL, after a disastrous last season, the Collingwood Magpies appointed a new coach for this season, Craig McRae. Even though they got off to a slow start this season, under McRae’s oversight ended up having an 11-straight winning streak toward the end of the season and now look like genuine  Premiership contenders. What do Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Craig McRae, and the Collingwood football team, all have in common? All the players at the elite level of their sport make an enormous commitment to train, practice, sleep, hydrate, and eat a regulated diet. Yet at the very highest levels in their respective sporting codes the difference between the elite and the extra-elite is no longer skill or fitness. In fact, the difference between them is so applicable to everyday life that it may be the most relevant and do-able thing you hear for a long time. So, think about this.