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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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