Commitment to Our Children
COMMITMENT TO THE CHILDREN
By John and Beth Reese
A. Commitment to Each Child—your relationship with your children is your third priority. Pray before the child is born or adopted. Each child is a gift from God, and each child is given back to God (1 Samuel 1:27-28; Genesis 4:1; Psalm 127:3; 2 Corinthians 12:14).
v There should never be any doubt to the child that his parents will always be there for him.
v Commitment is a love that is conscious and unconditional.
v Commitment is not only to the family as a unit but to each individual.
v Respond to that child – not respond as you always do to your children.
v Encourage each child in the areas where he excels most.
v Help your children to feel significant.
v A balance of time together and individualism is important. All combinations of one-on-one family relationships need to be fostered.
B. Commitment to Time & Attention- (Ephesians 6:4; Ephesians 5:15-16; Psalm 144:12).
v Remember that parenting is a joint affair. Both parents should be involved in the goals and challenges of parenting, even if one parent spends more time with the children.
v The parent can reassure the child by participating in play, school celebrations, sports activities, and other activities of the child.
v Remember anniversaries and birthdays. This is a great time to show your loved ones that they are special.
v If a parent finds he is emotionally drained when he returns to the family, he might give the children attention at the beginning of the day.
v Time together is important. Set aside a day a week for the family.
v Family time is important. It should be scheduled and kept. Learn to set boundaries. It may be necessary to let friends know when you schedule family time and teach them to respect it.
v Take vacations together as a family. This allows you to be out of normal activities for a short time. Vacations do not have to be expensive. The time spent together is much more important than being entertained.
v Share at least one meal together each day as a family. This will be sometimes be difficult, but with determination it can happen most of the time.
v It is very important for both parents to spend time with the children. They need to be shown by actions that they are more important than other things of the world.
v Sometimes fathers feel that the demands of his work are too great for him to spend adequate time with the kids. It is important to remember that the admonition in Eph. 6:4 to bring up children was addressed to ‘fathers.’ Fathers may be able to take some or all the family with him when making some trips. (Car time is important – think creatively e.g. ‘make it up as you go’ stories.)
v The first 5 or 6 years of life are formative ones. It is important to spend time with your child to help him develop in a spiritual way. Children are never too young to benefit from attention.
v Spend some time playing together. Plan at least one weekly activity together.
v Take time to make some memories.
v The things you can give your child are not nearly as important as giving your child some of yourself.
v Time together helps the family develop its own group identity.
v Time together nurtures better relationships.
v If children are away at school, be especially diligent at communicating regularly. When physically possible, call, write or e-mail at least weekly and get together at holiday intervals and long weekends.
v When a child comes home wanting to tell you about his experiences, be sure you really listen to them. You might pick up clues that things are not always as they should be.
v Learn not to ‘jump on’ the child for the things he relates to you. Try not to be critical and jump to conclusions.
v Enjoy activities together with clubs and other school and social events.
v In a world of email, send a hand written note at times.
C. Commitment to Affection- (Matthew 7:12; Colossians 3:21).
v Tell your children you love them every day. Demonstrate this love with touching, hugs, or kisses even through their teen years.
v Children need to feel loved and appreciated. They need to know, in a very real way, that they are more important to their parents than all the other people in the world.
v Children need to feel loved and accepted for who they are and not always for just what they do.
v Affirm your children verbally.
v Children learn to love only by being loved. They are molded and shaped by whether we characterize them as good or bad.
v The child also needs to know that grandparents and other extended family still support and love them. This can be a little difficult when grandparents are sometimes living far away.
v Help your children to develop a healthy self-esteem level from small.
v The best way to teach appreciation is to model it. Thank the children when they do good things. Teach children to express affection and appreciation by learning to treat other family members with kindness, respect, unselfishness, and courtesy.
v Acknowledge your child’s feelings. He will likely have varying emotions as he grows and may not know how to deal with them.
D. Commitment to Discipline
- 1. Discipline is from the Lord. Discipline or chastening (paideia Gk) means training, instruction, guidance, or correction (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:6,15; 23:13-14; 29;15; Deuteronomy 8:5; Hebrews 12:8,10-11).
- 2. Obedience is from the Lord (Ephesians 6:1; 1Timothy 3:4).
v Parents need to practice consistency. Children need to know the boundaries. Parents need to remember that the children will test those boundaries from time to time.
v Family discussions need to be held to establish and reinforce rules.
v Family rules sometimes change when the environment is different.
v If the parents keep a context of affirmation in dealing with the children then discipline will be understood and accepted as a part of love. When affection and appreciation are not often found then it will appear that the main attention a child receives is when he has been naughty.
E. Commitment for Life (into teen and adult years)—The example of unconditional love: It doesn’t matter how we act, Christ still loved us enough to die for us, and He does not change (John 3:16; Hebrews 13:8).
v The teenager will go through a stage of learning to be independent. The wise parent will help him progress from a totally dependent child to a mature young adult. With help and encouragement from the parents, this does not have to be a violent or complete separation from the family, but merely a maturing/shifting of relationships. Teens still need to learn boundaries as they learn to make their own decisions.
v Turn adversities and difficulties into bonding experiences.
v Be willing to explain your rationale to teenagers – not so that they must agree, but so that they can understand how decisions are made.
v Parent on purpose. You can help your children develop in the way you believe they should go. Make decisions before the children are born or when they are small about the kind of child you want to raise. Children do have their own personalities and character, but parents can help to guide them in godly ways.
v Train your children for leadership.
v Train your children to think. Sometimes this means working with them every step of the way.
v Expose your children to great ‘heroes of the faith.’ Include the children when visiting with the people you know and respect greatly.
v Children need to develop their own faith in the Lord. They need to live and act as children of the King.
v Let your Christian faith have structure and guiding principles for ethics and morals, not just laws that tell them what is legal.
v Model making wise decisions in your daily life.
v Practice personal accountability.
v Families have to make rules for living in the culture. Raise your child to critique culture from a biblical perspective. The standards set should be biblical and not just because everybody else is doing it.
v Think about the long-term significance of choices that involve cultural values.
- 1. Education: What social agenda and view of life is being taught? E.g. definitions of the family, of normative sexual experience, of the ultimate source of life.
- 2. Fine arts: What values are exemplified in dress, in movements, in depictions?
- 3. Sports: What attitudes are coaches and teammates encouraging?
- 4. Entertainment: What messages are carried by TV, games, movies, shows, songs, instrumental beats?
- 5. Friends: What are the priorities and values of the child’s peer group?
v Children need to know, beyond all doubt, that they can call their parents from any place, at any time and they will come and get them. Parents need to remember that the trust of the child is very important. There will be time later to ask questions and receive answers.
v Parents need to love the Lord with all of their hearts and demonstrate it to their children while training the children to love the Lord with all of their hearts and to demonstrate it to others.