From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:
(Part 3 in a 3-part Series)
Are you parenting with purpose and intention or are you just kind of winging it and trying to survive each day, hoping that somehow your children will grow up with strong character and a sincere desire to know, love and serve the Lord? Are you parenting for today or for eternity?
Parenting is a high and holy calling. While it brings unbelievable blessings, it also comes with enormous responsibility. Being purposeful and intentional in the rearing of the precious lives God entrusts to parents helps to ensure that the responsibility is handled well and increases the blessings.
With the sincere hope that giving some practical suggestions for intentional parenting will be helpful in that regard, this week we wrap up the short series “Purposeful Parenting,” based on a blog post by Whitney Hopler of Crosswalk.com. Hopler is doing a practical application of a book written by Jim Burns, The Ten Building Blocks for a Solid Family.
The first two commentaries covered the building blocks of be there; express affirmation, warmth and encouragement; build healthy morals and values; discipline with consistency; ruthlessly eliminate stress; and communicate well. This week we deal with the last four building blocks.
The seventh building block is “play together.” Recently, I’ve been to places where my family vacationed during my growing up years. Floods of happy memories came back as I recalled fun times, play times together with mom, dad and my brother. All families need play time…both planned for and spontaneous. But if you don’t plan for some fun, it’s likely it may not happen given today’s hectic schedules. Playing with your children allows them to see another side of you—a side that is extremely important.
“Love your spouse” is the eighth building block. Someone very wise has said that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. It seems to me it could also be said that the best thing a mother can do for her children is to love her husband. Children thrive when they sense they are safe and protected. And nothing nurtures that sense than a loving, low-conflict, Christ-centered relationship between their mother and father. So build in date nights and marriage retreats and more. It’s one of the best things you can do for your children.
Burns’ ninth building block is “remember that the best things in life aren’t things.” Hopler says this is about developing a family budget, sticking to it and avoiding debt so that the family is on a strong financial foundation. One of the most important gifts you can give your children is to teach them about tithing and giving—make it a joyous personal practice and an expectation of your children.
And, finally, the tenth family building block according to Burns is “energize your family’s spiritual growth.” The author rightly notes that a parent’s “greatest calling in life is to leave a spiritual legacy for kids.” That requires paying attention to your own relationship to the Lord, purposefully strengthening it daily with Bible reading and prayer. Your children seeing you read your Bible and praying is more powerful than you can imagine. Have family devotions and prayer regularly. Attend a Bible-preaching and teaching church—faithfully—as a family. Make your family’s spiritual growth a top priority and attend to it with energy and passion, not as a dictator or autocrat but as a loving, attentive, giving father.
Burns talks in terms of building blocks for healthy families. Building something requires a vision, a plan, a foundation, dedication and attention to following the plan, a system, good materials, knowing and following certain rules and more. How many of us have driven by a building that was begun but never finished or seen a building collapse because of poor planning, bad execution, rules not followed, poor workmanship, bad materials. Building a building takes time, purpose and intention. How much more so in building a family and how much more important. Purposeful parenting, purposeful family building is all about time–and eternity.