“The most important thing that a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Rev. Theodore Hesburgh
Parenting is fundamentally discipleship… intense, daily, unrelenting, often unappreciated discipleship. They relate to one another in the same way that an ultra-marathon is a type of footrace.
Discipleship, then, is fundamentally about replicating oneself. Paul summarizes the concept most succinctly in the phrase “follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1)
In fact, Jesus’ simple teaching on discipleship is that “it is enough for the disciple that he becomes like the teacher…” (Matt 10:25)
This is why it is so important that we, as parents, model what we want for our children. Certainly it is vital to teach our children with our words, but we have all experienced the truth of the statement that more is caught than taught.
As a counselor, it is amazing to me that we all want these great blessings for our children: purpose, greatness, success, intimacy, value, and more… but we often deny ourselves these same things, or at least fail to make the effort it might take to have them. The facts are, though, that we greatly improve the chances that our children will have something if we model it… much more than we just wish for it for them.
A great strategy for any married couple is this: take time and ask each other what you want for your children. If you had the power to create it, would you bless your children with financial health? If so, then make it a goal for your marriage and start doing what you need to do – get the training, accountability, restraint or whatever you need. The reasoning is that the best strategy for helping your children have any blessing is for you to create it in your marriage for them to model.
Think of it this way: your best way to help your children build into their marriages these blessings is for your marriage to make the bricks for them to inherit. You can’t make them build with them, but you can save them from the pain of constructing the bricks by facing that pain yourself.
Addiction problems? You deal with them and maybe they won’t have to.
Mood issues of anxiety or anger, etc?
Character flaws of impatience, laziness, gluttony, harshness, criticism, etc?
Your marriage lacking intimacy, kindness, sacrifice, affection?
The main predictor I have found in the soul-issues is that most people have are the ones their parents didn’t deal with. Conflict really scary? Your parents probably didn’t disagree with grace. Find yourself constantly critical, or sharply insecure about being criticized? Was a parent a perfectionist, or too indulgent? See the way it works?
Good, then you can be the parent that breaks that cycle! Ask for help, get counsel, talk to a pastor or a friend, confess your desire to change – if not for you, then maybe for the sake of your kids. Let the knowledge that you are breaking the path for them motivate you to keep it up!
Your little sheep, or even your teenage sheep, will follow… sometimes is won’t be clear at the time, and rarely will it look exactly like you want it to, but it happens. Where will you lead them?
Why Christian Kids Rebel by Tim Kimmell
Guiding Your Teen to a Faith that Lasts by Kevin Huggins
Hurt by Chap Clark