In parenting, easy decisions are few and far between. Because we make a lot of difficult decisions, it is important to know which are ones we should fight for and which one’s to back off.
Barna has some good advice.
Those who have raised spiritual champions see their parenting as establishing the certainty of their love for their children, knowing what wisdom to impart, sharing significant experiences to train them for the future, providing pointed feedback regarding the choices they make, and backing off to allow the children to grow through personal experience.1
Let’s break this down.
First, when making difficult decisions,** parents need to have established without a doubt love for their children**. Yes, I know that seems like an obvious statement, but any given year in family ministry I come across students and children who have deep concerns about if their parents love them. It is important to tell your children daily that you love them, and you need to do it with sincerity. Don’t assume they know, because their perception may not be reality.
Second, give your children wisdom. Wisdom is the art of making successful moral and intellectual decisions. As Christians, we have faith that the best wisdom comes from God because wisdom belongs to Him. As a Christian parent that means, I impart God’s wisdom to my children from God’s word and finding ways for them to apply it to their lives.
Third, share significant experiences. We all were immature at some point in our lives and have made embarrassing mistakes. It is important for us to share our past, but we need to wise in what we share and do not share. It is not wise, to share everything about our lives to our children because many of our errors are not significant. When we share our past, it needs to be something with significance so they can learn from our mistakes and how we resolved the problem.
This leads to the next point, providing pointed feedback. Part of being a leader and a parent is to make sure your feedback hits the mark in choices your children make. If you are unclear about a topic, your child will most likely make that same mistake again. They need to know that whatever decision they made is not tolerated in your household.
Finally, use your own wisdom to back off. If you fight every battle, then how does your child know the difference between something major and something minor. If you yell at your child for jumping on the couch and also running across the road, how would they know which one is more important. To them, they are equal.
So pick your battles wisely, intervene when important with pointed responses, and always show love.
Barna, George (2010-09-01). Revolutionary Parenting: Raising Your Kids to Become Spiritual Champions (Kindle Locations 972-974). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition ↩