Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Parenting on the Straight and "Arrow"

I'm sitting here at my desk looking at a stack of pictures of our grandkids we've taken the past of couple of weeks during the Christmas holidays. What special memories and moments those photos represent! I wouldn't trade one of those times for anything.

I am also beaming with pride over my children and their spouses who I see so diligently and passionately trying to raise those precious little ones with godly wisdom and practical insight. They reminded me once again of how important being intentional is when it comes to pursuing effective parenting.

Psalm 127:3, 4 say that our children are a reward and heritage from God. In one of the few Psalms written by Solomon we read, "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior" are the children born to us when we are young. That image of our children being arrows is one that we as parents can learn from and must not miss.

First of all, remember that part of our parenting involves a battle. I wish it weren't true but there are lots of powers out there fighting for our kids' attention and minds - the media, advertisers, writers, policiticians and the like. We must help our kids face and respond to all sorts of wrong thinking and misguided approaches to life that they will encounter during their lives in our homes and beyond.

While we certainly should also teach our kids to love others, be like Jesus and respond to even those who disagree with grace and kindness, we must also help them to stand for what is right, good and holy. Don't leave their strength and battle-ready training to someone else.

Second, the Psalm writer's picture of an archer reminds us that the warrior must prepare for battle and know how to use the weapons he or she has been given. Unfortunately, when that new child enters our home the baby doesn't come with an owner's manual! Our training as parents largely comes from the home we grew up in and that may or may not have been that great of a learning center. Even if we had a terrific home, the skills we might use to parent weren't always that obvious during our growing up years.

It would have been nice if someone would have told us how to perform the day to day parenting tasks, too, especially during the most challenging of times.

Thankfully, there are ways to learn how to parent better - books, church classes, mentors, blogs like this one and a host of other resources. If you're struggling with your parenting, no matter what age your children are, seek out some help from wise counselors, friends, pastors and others who you respect. There are many ideas and tools out there that you can apply to your situation if you'll just take the time to seek them out.

Third, the archer must not only shoot the arrow. It must be aimed! This is where we must become intentional and not just let life in our home happen. Ask yourself, what is it that we (or I) believe God wants me to accomplish with my kids? Make a list. Then ask yourself, what am I intentionally doing right now to point my children in that direction? Am I shooting my parenting arrows toward the target?

I've talked about some of this in earlier posts so go back and read some of the other entries in this blog regarding spiritual training, discipline and character building. However, the bottom line is take time to plan how you're going to train your children in the way they should go. (Proverbs 22:6). Yes, many things are taught and caught through how we live out everyday life.

However, sometimes we have to go further. For example, when our kids were entering middle school or so, we did what we called their 13 Year Old Challenge. Over the course of the year we designed a one-year program that encouraged them to develop physically, socially, intellectually/emotionally and spiritually. We gave them a list of books to read. There was a job-shadowing list where they got experience in the work world and a taste of what they might like to do someday.

Ironically, our son Tim chose to spend one of his days with the manager of a local Christian radio station. Guess what he does for a living today? You never know. We also provided spiritual growth opportunities that would help them deepen their faith. At the end was a financial incentive as well that matched the amount of money we encouraged them to save during that year. While it wasn't a perfect idea, we do know that both of our kids benefitted from that exercise and we sensed that we were targeting some very specific objectives in each child's maturation process.

If you're a parent God gave you an arrow or two or three to shoot in a direction that will make a difference. How's your target practice going? Wherever you are in your parenting it's never too late to start shooting straighter. Pull back the string and see what happens!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

1 comment:

  1. Echoing my thoughts Gary. Only you do it so eloquently! We'll be praying for you while you're in Russia.