Parenthood can be confusing. There are so many decisions that we are often left wondering, Did we make the right choice?
Which sleep and feeding schedule should we follow for our babies?
How should we discipline?
Should we homeschool our children or send them to public or private school?
And the decisions go on and on. As parents, it’s easy to feel that our children’s entire future depends solely on us making the right decision in any and every situation.
The good news, parents, is that we can breathe – everything about our kids’ future does not hinge on every. single. decision we make.
But the thing that matters most in raising our children is love…
Do we show our kids love through giving boundaries and consequences when they’re needed and follow through?
Do we tell our children to help with chores, not only because they’re required to, but also because it’s a way to love us and the Lord?
When correcting our kids, do we let them know that we’re working on the same things and are in this together, so they don’t feel like we’re constantly pointing our fingers at them?
Do we show our kids the love of Jesus by asking for forgiveness when we’ve treated them wrongly?
Do we teach them to care more about what the Lord thinks than others’ opinions?
Do we show our kids love by saying no to them at times, so they understand that the world doesn’t revolve solely around them?
Do we encourage them to be compassionate and reach out to the lonely, not because they have to, but out of love for the Lord and others?
Do we teach our kids to tell the truth not only because lying breeds consequences, but also because it hurts peoples’ hearts and the Lord?
Do we teach our children the beauty of grace so that when they make wrong choices, they know they have the chance to ask for forgiveness and make a better choice next time?
Do they know that when we fall short, we don’t need to run, but we can keep seeking him, because he fully loves us as we are and where we are?
Do we show our kids what it looks like to seek him? To read his Word? To pray? To love others? By our example?
Do we bring Jesus into ordinary moments?
Thank you for loving your sister and the Lord well by putting away her laundry.
Thank you for washing my dish without me asking – wow, you loved me so well by doing that.
When you reacted calmly to your brother’s hurtful words, you really loved him and the Lord well.
When you said thank you to the cashier, you sure showed her respect and that she matters.
I love how you asked for forgiveness after that bad moment. That is exactly how Jesus gives us hope – he turns ugly moments into beautiful ones.
If our children’s actions are driven by obligation or force, they will soon tire. But, if their choices are motivated by love for the Lord and others, they are more likely to continue.
As John Townsend, Christian counselor and author said: “The more you try to force your child to do or not to do something, the less effective you will likely be. Remember you are helping your child establish self-control from the inside, not parent-control from the outside.”
When we guide our kids in doing things out of love and not force, they will experience more freedom and joy in following God’s commandments to love the Lord and love others.
We get to be the ones by our children’s side, walking them through life, guiding them in how to love the Lord and others in everyday moments. And it is joy to my soul.
As we raise our children, instead of getting absorbed in making the “right” decisions, let’s rise to the greater call of teaching our children what it looks like to be motivated by love, to follow Jesus, and to seek the Lord first and always.