6 Rules to Win the Parenting Game
Rule #2 Model Daily
One night around the dinner table with my family, I was complaining my rough day. My daughter Hannah (pictured above) rolled her eyes and said, “You know, Dad, if that’s the worst thing that happens to you today, it’s a pretty good day.”
But I say the same thing to her all the time.
Have you ever had that happen to you?
Maybe it’s something you say, or a hand gesture or a facial expression and your spouse says, “That is SO you!”
We parents are all Dr. Evil and our mini-mes are taking over the world.
Sometimes this is entertaining. Sometimes this is endearing. Sometimes this is just downright alarming.
If our kids emulate our good behaviors, we high-five ourselves.
But what if they regurgitate our critical spirit, gossipy mouth, or bad choice of words?
Well, in the Bible there’s a dude named Solomon – whom some suggest to be the wisest man to ever live. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon imparts wisdom to younger readers:
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:3-4
…win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Who doesn’t want that?
And who are the most important people we want to think well of us?
Our kids, right?
If the rest of the world thought I was a giant jerkface, but my wife and kids enjoyed me and knew that I was a godly and good husband and dad, I’d be ok with that.
We want to find favor with our families. Solomon models the way.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you.”
Love and faithfulness.
The Amplified Bible says, “Let these qualities define you.”
I would love to be defined by love and faithfulness.
The word that is translated as ‘love and faithfulness’ is actually one Hebrew word: hesed.
Hesed is, as REO Speedwagon said, more than a feeling.
“Hesed is wrapping up in itself all the positive attributes of God: love, covenant faithfulness, mercy, grace, kindness, loyalty–in short, acts of devotion and loving-kindness that go beyond the requirements of duty.”-Darrell Bock, Biblical Scholar
Way beyond feelings of affection or infatuation.
It’s a commitment regardless of what happens along life’s road.
It’s a dedication that says, “I don’t feel like loving you today, but I’m going to anyway.”
It’s a lifestyle that says, “You may have hurt me, but I’m going to forgive you and be committed to you anyway.”
It’s what should define us as Jesus-followers.
Isn’t that a characteristic we want to see in our kids as well?
Yes. We desire to raise kids who would be loving and faithful.
That means we have to model it.
Rule #2: Model Daily.
Kids have a front-row seat to your life.
They see who you are, they see what you do and they can smell an imposter from a mile away.
Modeling has two parts:
- Bind love and faithfulness around your neck.
This is Your Outside Story. In order for your kids to believe what you believe, your actions have to demonstrate that YOU believe what you believe.
- Write love and faithfulness on the tablet of your heart.
This is your Inside Story. Exhibiting good behavior is a result of what’s inside of us. A glass can only spill what it contains.
“A good person produces good from the good treasury of the inner self, while an evil person produces evil from the evil treasury of the inner self. The inner self overflows with words that are spoken.” (Luke 6:45)
So, take a quick inventory of your life. Based on it, how will your kids manage money? Relationships? Their emotions? Career? What will their time with their own kids look like one day? How will they love and care for others? What will their dependence on God look like?
Does the way you live suggest that the love of Jesus is inside of you?
This can feel pretty overwhelming.
I get it wrong all the time. Is it true that my kids will pick up all my junk?
It’s probably true if that’s all you give them.
When tensions rises, difficulties rear their ugly heads, jobs change, relationships goes south, finances are tight or a freaking pandemic hits, what will they see then? It’s in those moments your kids will see who you really are.
If your Inside Story is one that is dependent on God, then your outside story will show it.
Start focusing on your inner story by spending time in the Bible and in prayer. Try fasting or serving others. Practice solitude, meditation or generosity. Your inner commitments effect what you demonstrate and what your kids emulate.
Take a deep breath.
You’re kids aren’t destined to inherit all of your doo doo. Especially if we are courageous enough to take the first step.
The goal is not to do everything
But to do something more.
If one dad who hasn’t been praying with his ten-year-old daughter
Starts praying with her…
If one mom who hasn’t connected with her teenage son
Convinces him she really cares…
If one family that rarely discusses spiritual issues starts
Talking about God at dinner, even occasionally…
If anything changes in the rhythm of the home to
Remind everyone that God is telling a story through
If something that is taught at church is creatively reinforced at home…
It is more impacting than any parent can imagine.
(Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof)