Train Up a Child, Not Down
Parents need to be careful to insure that their kids are always looking up. Up to them, up to the Lord, and up in life. Brow beaten children should not exist in the church. Neither should there be any youth who struggle with self-image or personal worth that are not receiving constant help and encouragement.
We are to coach them in wisdom to follow their God on this amazing journey called Life and since everyday holds for them new challenges, as well as distractions, here are eight ways to help raise them up.
1. Shepherd your children
Know where they “are.” Everyone is somewhere in their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. You don’t need to be a psychologist or a minister to diagnose or counsel your children because you already have the most important human relationship with them, that of, Mom or Dad. Don’t accept the psycho-babble idea that you are “too close” to your children to help them and that others have a better relational advantage in “reaching” their hearts.
So find out what’s going on with them and keep tabs on how they are doing.
2. Pray with your children
Many of us pray for our children but when is the last time that your children heard you pray for them—like after a conversation where you encouraged or corrected or even just made plans in regard to them? Prayer helps them realize that you are seeking heaven’s help for them: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
3. Get them in the Word
Since the Bible is God’s Word come down from heaven, then as they read or hear the Scriptures they will be confronted and comforted by the Lord Himself. The Psalmist said that the Word was a lamp to his feet and a light to his path—our children need to know that such illumination is for their lives as well.
4. Be relational in the parental
Parenting can come off as just being the boss and not also the friend or confidant. There is a subtlety here that communicates that there is a distance between parent and child rather than the closeness that an adult with an emerging adult can, and should, have. So without losing any of your parental authority, start working on friendships with your children too.
Conversation is the key here. Let them tell you about their interests. Talking to them about everything in general as friends makes it easier when you need to talk to them about something specific as a parent.
5. Get rid of the bad
Whatever is bringing your kids down needs to go. It can be a certain friendship, a TV show, a lack of purpose, too many carbs. . . .
Be sure that there isn’t anything weighing them down or holding them back. Some activities and situations are detrimental and just have to be stopped.
6. Help them to know their wealth
It is so easy for any of us to see what others have rather than our own particular worth. Children do this too as they observe other’s toys, talent, beauty, freedom, and activity. As parents, we can get caught in the “but Suzy gets to . . . or Bobby’s dad got him a ____” comparison scenarios.
Without disrespecting Suzy or Bobby or their parents, your children need to know what they have that is special. A good heart, their goals, the ability to save money, a sense of humor, or prowess in camping skills—whatever it is that they have accomplished or are working on.
As the apostle Paul once said, “They, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” So turn your children’s comparisons into an evaluation of what God is doing in and through and for them. Life is not just horizontal it is also very much vertical.
7. Fill out their lives
One of our goals as parents is to enrich our kids. One way this is done is by giving possessions, “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers.”
Everything that we give our children changes them a bit or a bunch. Think of your own childhood and what it was like for you when you were given a particular doll, or a BB gun, or ring that belonged to a close relative, or your first hunting knife.
Experiences are vital as well. Taking your children to a mission field or to your office for the day or on a road trip to another city broadens their view of life and advances their growing up.
8. Look up yourself
Training up a child is easier if you are going “up” yourself. And since we as parents have a heavenly Father always desiring to raise us up in His ways, this should not be too hard for us to do. Imitating Jesus while our children imitate us is the wondrous parenting plan of God.
We are always raising “the greatest generation” by simply living the life God has called us to.