Successful parenting starts with you, the parent. Your character, who you are deep inside determines what you value most and how you will live. Character also determines the kind of parent you will be.
So, who are you? What values are at the core of your being? Are you kind and gentle? Selfish, arrogant or prideful? Are you a know-it-all or are you open to learning new ways of thinking and doing things? Most importantly, does your character resemble God’s view of who he is capable of making you?
God knows each of us just as we are. He knows our secrets, strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, He also knows our potential and wants us to continually grow toward being that person. Like a loving parent, He hopes for and dreams of the fulfillment of our greatest potential.
What is God’s view of the potential you? He sees you as becoming more and more changed into the character of Jesus, his son. Paul captures this great vision of us in Romans 8:29 ” For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son ….”(NIV).
In the larger passage from which this statement comes, God promises to work in every circumstance in our life to promote this growth of Christ-like character in us. He is able to use all the difficulties, pain and disappointments to shape our character. Our character, formed around faith in Christ, is his greatest concern for us.
Where do you start with this change of character which will gradually transform you and the way you parent? You begin with the surrender of your life to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you haven’t already made this decision, I encourage you to begin this wonderful journey of forgiveness and grace right now.
Have you ever tried to work a box puzzle without the box top to guide you? Have you tried to go somewhere you haven’t been before without a GPS, map or good directions to help you? Frustrating isn’t it?
Many things we do in life require some amount of direction to ensure a chance at success. Parenting your child is no different. Assuming we will be good parents simply because we have brought a child into the world is foolishness. That assumption alone indicates we don’t have much of a clue about where we are going and what we need to do.
For centuries the North Star served as a constant nighttime guide to give direction to mariners at sea. They navigated the dangerous waters and steered their vessels according to the dependable heavenly bodies. To do otherwise would be the height of arrogance and foolishness, putting their whole mission in jeopardy.
Is there a North Star for parents to follow in rearing our children? Yes, there is. This concept is the focal point of the meaning of life. To understand it and live by it brings blessings to you and your child. To ignore it dooms you to a journey without a trustworthy guide to do one of the most important things a human being is ever called on to do, parenting a child.
Do you want to know where to find the true North Star for parenting? Begin by reading the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40. Here’s a clue about what you’ll find, relationships. What is your “north star,” that which informs how you live and how you guide your child?
What is Parenting About?
Perhaps the most central question we need to ask ourselves as parents is: “What is parenting really about?” In other words, what is the main role or central purpose I, the parent, need to fulfill in relation to this child that has been entrusted to me?
Unfortunately, for some reason, this may be an area of concern which some parents never consciously consider. Many are so caught up with their personal agendas and the busyness of life that they don’t take time to talk about, much less put into action plans related to their primary role as a parent.
I would venture to say that many parents don’t have much of a clue as to what their main purpose as a parent really is. With our society’s rapid advance toward materialism and secularism it is no wonder that we are losing our sense of what life is really about.
This secular mindset defines what many think life is really about. Consequently, they rear their children in this godless approach to life where all values are relative and human life itself is becoming less and less valuable.
What do you think is the bottom line in parenting? What is parenting about to you? My next blog, “North Star Parenting” will attempt to provide a direction for you to consider.
Where does successful parenting Start? Does it begin at the birth of a child? Having a child makes you a parent but does it make you a successful one? Does it begin with reading books on child development or parenting strategies or techniques? While this can prove helpful, good parenting must begin somewhere else.
Then, where does successful parenting begin? It begins with the person you see in the mirror. That’s right. Good parenting begins with the person you are. Who you are, your character, is the most important issue in parenting. No matter what you “know” about parenting, no matter how prepared you think you are to be a good parent, the real and most important issue is who you are as a person.
Character is the ultimate issue of life. It is not what we accumulate or how successful we are by society’s standards that are most important. All those we leave behind when we die. But character is another matter. That is who we are and is all we will take with us. And, our character is our most important legacy.
If you have been entrusted to rear children you should pause to consider the meaning of your existence and seek to mold your character to that purpose. In practical terms this means to commit our life to God and his lordship in our life. Living out this commitment means to accept Christ as your savoir and grow in his likeness and to genuinely treat others as you want to be treated. This will bring your life into conformity with Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:34-40.Once you have committed your life to live out life’s true purpose, then and only then can you guide your child toward that purpose. Think about it. Do it for yourself and your child and all those you love.
Why? Why did he do it? Those investigating the horrendous act of violence in Las Vegas are seeking answers to that very question. Why? What would cause a person to choose to want to do this, to plan so thoroughly, so meticulously to carry out such a dastardly, cowardly act against fellow human beings?
Was he “radicalized” by a terrorist group? Was he targeting a certain age group? Did he hate country music? Was there a political motive behind his desire to kill? In the days ahead we will probably get some clues as to what was going on in his thoroughly depraved mind. Then we can look for answers of how to, if possible, prevent such things from happening. And, this, we should do.
But, if and when we are able to answer the “why” he took so many innocent lives have we really gotten to the root cause of why he did what he did? Behind all sorts of evil, his and mine (and yours) is the “heart” not surrendered to God. The Ten Commandments are the boundaries God has given us for healthy relationships. For our own good and the good of others we are not to cross those lines. Jesus summarized these prohibitions by going to the heart issue, “ ….love God supremely and love others as you love yourself.” (My take on Matthew 22:36-40).
Jeremiah observed, “The heart is ..deceitful.. and is desperately sick: who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17: 9). This is a message lost on modern mankind, we have become so PC, so educated, sophisticated and refined that we gloss over the heart issue which only God can fix. I trusted Jesus to save me when I was a kid but what I have learned is that I desperately need him to keep on saving me from my self-centeredness, pride and my desire to dethrone God in my life.
There is a battle going on in my soul and yours and who wins that battle (God or Satan and self) will determine our character and our character will determine our words and actions. One thing we can all learn from the great tragedy in Las Vegas is that we and our society are lost without God. And we , like the shooter, have choices to make about our words and actions. Lord help us to look inside our heart because there we find the “why” we what we do.
Are we coming apart as a society? What, if anything, does the shooting in Las Vegas say about the reality of evil? What role does the family play in the development of a stable society? Why does trust or the lack of it affect our society?
The Trust Factor is critically important in life. There’s a lot in the news nowadays about trust, or the lack of it, when it comes to our government leaders. Folks all over America are doubtful of the motives and capability of many of those we have elected to serve us. We have a real ”crisis of confidence” in our country and there doesn’t seem to be much prospect of it getting better. How did we come to this place and how can it be fixed? Let’s learn to built trust in our families and with each other by what we say and how we treat each other.
TRUST is a very important ingredient in life. It is present in all healthy relationships; marriage, friendship, business, parent/child, government and between leaders in the international community. Trust is foundational to the orderly and productive functioning of life. Without it we live in uncertainty, doubtful of the word or actions of the other person or country. President Reagan said, concerning agreements with other countries, that we should “trust but verify.” There is much wisdom in that idea; trust that the other person (country) will keep their word but understand that trustworthiness is proven by action consistent with one’s promise or agreement.
I believe the family is the basic unit of our society. As the family goes, so goes the world. Families produce children and children grow up to serve many different functions in our world. Some become congress people, some senators, some become Supreme Court judges and a few have the honor of becoming President of the United States.
Everyone comes from a family of some type. But every family has the responsibility to attempt to instill the character values which make a person trustworthy. Character matters and there is no place where it matters more than in your family.
As for me, I will continue to live as a follower of the Light of the World and light my little candle in the terrible darkness. What about you?
An important factor in building trust in your marriage or other relationships is being truthful about ordinary, everyday things in life.
Mary Ann asks John, “Did you make the bank deposit today?” John hesitates for a moment but responds from the other room in an irritable tone,”Yes, Mary Ann, I made the deposit.” Opening the site to their bank account he negotiates the on-line transaction.
Why did John choose to lie instead of saying something like, “No, but thanks for reminding me, I’ll do that right now?” There are various reasons he could give for his course of action: “She’s always nagging me about something.” or “”I can never do anything to please her.” or “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”
While this kind of incident may seem to be unimportant , it reflects a deeper issue which can ultimately destroy the trust in a relationship. What is the “root cause” of John’s lying about such a simple thing? One part of the deeper issue may be John’s unwillingness to face Mary Ann with his mistakes and correct them. Without blaming Mary Ann, he needs to find the issue within himself that seems to make it easier to lie than to tell the truth. So far as Mary Ann’s part in this problem is concerned, she may need to look at ways in which she somehow makes facing his shortcomings more difficult for John.
If we are not careful about these little things and correct our error our spouse and others will eventually discover our secret lies. When we are “found out” trust in the relationship will be damaged and that person may begin to wonder if there are other things, bigger things, we are not truthful about. Remember, the behaviors we repeat can become habits. Our habits determine our character and our character determines our destiny.
The most important issue in the trust factor is your character. To build trust with others you must hold yourself accountable to tell the truth in little things as well as the big things.