No parent begins with the intention of making their children miserable. No parent wants to see their child grow up angry, bitter, unhappy, or miserable. Sadly, many parents, with even the best of intentions – even Christian parents – will see the opposite of their hopes and dreams. How is a parent to prevent that from happening? How does a parent help their children experience all the joy, love, and peace they long for them to know?
Parenting so that children know real life flows out of the ongoing experience of knowing God as Father. Many know God, but not many know Him as Father. Many think they know Him as Father, but have a distorted view of what that means. Their past experiences have clouded their ability to see a Father accurately. God the Father is unlike any father anyone has ever known. If we want to know the Father heart of God, we have to set aside our own worst and our best experiences with a father. We have to begin a new catalog of definitions for what it means to relate to a Father.
The New Testament says that God the Father…
- shows the fullness of His love, grace, forgiveness for us in His own Son John 1:14
- frees us from bondage to perfection and fear. Romans 8:15
- adopts us into His own family. Romans 8:15
- overflows with grace and peace. 2 Thess. 1:2
- gives good and perfect gifts. James 1:17
- overflows with mercy when we fail. 1 Peter 1:3
- is an Advocate when we fail. 1 John 2:1
- invites us to intimate fellowship. 1 John 1:3
This is a Father like we have never known! The more we experience this Father, the more we can relate to our children in a way that gives them life!
And fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Parenting requires all that the Father does with us: acceptance, forgiveness, tenderness, patience, love, encouragement, and great sacrifice. We glory most in the fact that He gave His only Son that we might have life. We marvel in sacrifice. We stand in awe of that kind of love. Parenting with the heart of God does the same – it sacrifices without need for anything in return. It loves from what is inside.
Today, we take a look at 15 ways we can relate to our children to help them know and experience real life. That life is not in following these 15 steps. That life is in knowing and experiencing the love of God the Father.
- Give them the confidence of knowing there is nothing that could stop you from loving and showing them your favor and love.
- Regularly remind them how loved they are as your child.
- Look for, celebrate, and praise the uniqueness of their personality, talents, interests, thought processes, sense of humor, relationship abilities, etc.
- Ask them questions about their thoughts, perspectives, interests. Then genuinely listen and positively respond to their answers.
- Take interest in their friends, relationships, struggles, and hobbies.
- Play their games, watch their movies, get involved on their level in their activities.
- Help them see the wonder of God’s wisdom in creating them with specific talents, interests, insights, and abilities.
- Help them get a picture of the future for their life – “You would make a great…” “God could use you to…”
- Praise them in front of others.
- Correct and discipline with a greater focus on the future possibilities than on their past failures.
- Help them see the wonder of God’s grace and promises as much bigger than rules, fear, and consequences.
- Avoid any and all sarcasm toward them or their age group, peer group, etc.
- Be ready to give them your undivided attention and focus.
- Understand what best feeds their sense of love and encouragement and overwhelm them with it.
- Let them see and know your struggles, fears, weaknesses and how God the Father relates to you in them.
Imagine the joy of your children experiencing the Father heart of God from you as parents! Imagine the impact as they discover the heart of God for themselves! Imagine the difference in future generations because we first allowed ourselves to be loved by the Father, then we allowed that love to overflow as we parented.