Don’t you wish that every new parent could get a customized zip file upon leaving the hospital on how to parent their new child? Something that they could plug into their laptop and have at the ready any time a situation came up where they didn’t know what to do?
Although technology has come a long way in the last couple of decades, there will never be a program like this fanciful one I have proposed. This is because people are infinitely different and what works for some children, will not work for others. There is simply no mainframe powerful enough to account for all the unique permutations of the human heart and mind.
So how do you parent YOUR child?
We may not have software to help us in this area, but we can use some tools and tips to guide us as we seek to parent each of our children in a way that is most meaningful and effective for them. Here are a few guidelines:
1) Know your child. This may seem rather obvious, but if you don’t have a good handle on what makes your child tick, you won’t be able to intervene effectively. A while back, I developed a free printable to help you intentionally identify the unique aspects of your children.
Check out our Knowing Your Child free printable.
Sit down with your spouse and go through it together for each of your children. You could even ask another close relative or friend who knows your child for their input. They might be able to see things that you simply can’t.
2) Accept your child’s uniqueness. If you are constantly comparing your child to other people’s children, you will never be content with where your child is right now.
Knowing how to parent your child starts when you can accept them for who they are at this very moment and see that God has a divine purpose for the particular composition of personality traits your child is displaying – good, bad or otherwise.
3) Know your child’s love language. This goes along with knowing your child. We need to take time to make sure that we are showing love to our children in a language they can hear.
Check out Gary Chapman’s website where you can take an interactive quiz to uncover your children’s unique love language.
1 Corinthians 13:1 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” While this passage is referring to spiritual gifts, the theme applies to parenting as well.
If love – the kind of love our children can hear and receive – does not undergird our parenting, our kids will hear nothing more than a bunch of clanging cymbals.
4) Find a prayer partner. It is so important to have support. Pick one friend who you can connect with regularly about parenting struggles and successes. Pray specifically for the needs of each of your children. Share your burdens with each other and with the Lord. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
He wants to carry your burdens. Sometimes He uses the people around us to be His hands and feet.
5) Read the right parenting book. There are so many parenting books available to you today – how do you know which one to pick? You most likely already own the best parenting book out there. In fact, you may even read it every day.
It’s the Bible.
But the Bible doesn’t have a lot to say about parenting, you may say.
I respectfully disagree.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).
What do swords do? They protect and they pierce. The Holy Spirit can use His word to pierce your heart and to protect you from fear and doubt. If you are struggling in parenting your child, I would encourage you to pray before you read God’s word each day and ask Him to show you how it applies to you and your relationship with your children. You will be surprised, as I continue to be, to see how much of the Bible can be applied to our jobs as parents.
You may feel let down a bit by this article. Maybe you were hoping for something a bit more concrete. My prayer is that you will realize that the best, most concrete, parenting advice you will ever get is to build your hope, your family and your parenting on an intimate relationship with the One who is the true Cornerstone . . . Jesus Christ.
[photo credit: breonwarwick from morguefile.com]