During our Parenting and Grand-parenting workshop in March, George Kohl shared some wisdom into parenting and grand-parenting in relation to what a person can really do because there are limits to parent power. Parents are the biggest influence on a child’s life, but not the only influence. Parents tend to think they have more influence than they do. As a result, parents tend to take too much glory if their kids turn out the way they want. And they take too much blame if their children don’t turn out the way they wanted. There are 10 things within a parent’s and grand-parent’s power to do.
- It is within your power to pray for your children and grandchildren.
Consider the prayers of Paul (e.g., Romans 10:1 and Philippians 1:9-11). Why pray unless prayer would make a difference?
Much of parenting and grand-parenting is ultimately dealing with the heart of a child and teen. Influencing the heart and seeing heart change is in God’s power. Our prayers go to the One able to affect heart change. We don’t have that ability as God does, but we do have the ability to pray to God, asking that He would work in the child’s and teenager’s heart.
- It is within your power to develop a positive attitude toward children and grandchildren (Psalm 127:3-5).
See your children as a blessing and not a burden. Think about the implications of what you say to your child and about your child. Don’t just bite your lips. It’s a heart issue. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Just as we are trying to deal with the heart of a child or teen, we need to also deal with our heart issues. Responding positively flows from having our heart in the right spot. This may take work on your part as the parent or grand-parent to check to see if you need some adjusting in your attitude before seeking an adjustment in theirs.
- It is within your power to accept the uniqueness of each child and grandchild (Psalm 139:13-16).
This is true in regards to gender, physical, and temperament differences. Make a study of each child and support them accordingly. Accept them for who they are and who they are not. You may need to discipline them differently. You may need to educate them differently.
- It is within your power to form a team to help you raise your children. (Ephesians 5:22-6:4)
It takes a team to raise a child. As grandparents you are an important part of that team . The Ideal Team would be a biblical marriage: one man and one woman in lifelong love & loyalty who share Christian faith and values and who are working together in parenting. However, a Real Team is a mix of: unbelieving spouse with non-practicing Christians, or a spouse’s death, a divorce, single parenting, step-parenting, etc. Each of those situations bring unique challenges. Parents and grand-parents need to be intentional about forming the team of influence.
- It is within your power to do your part to keep the lines of communication open with your children & grandchildren (James 1:19-21).
Children are naturally communicative. It is largely parents that shut down the communication by their reactions to what their children say. This has been emphasized over and over. Parents and grand-parents succeed when they can give the child and teen unobstructed attention. Giving them one-on-one attention opens the lines of communication.
- It is within your power to communicate your love to your children & grandchildren (1 John 3:18).
Children don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Our children and grandchildren will have no desire to embrace our faith and values if they do not feel loved by us. It is a strange phenomena but parents may passionately love a child and yet the child may feel unloved. We must do the things that communicate love: (1) appropriate touch, (2) eye contact, and (3) undivided attention are a good place to start.
- It is within your power to set an example of how you want your children & grandchildren to live (1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 4:9).
“Actions speak louder than words.” We should each be able to say to our children what the Apostle Paul said to his spiritual children in 1 Corinthians 11:1 and Philippians 4:9. Your child or teen will imitate what they see you doing and will say what you say, etc. Are you modeling what you expect them to reflect?
- It is within your power to teach your children and grandchildren in the things of God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Peter 3:15-16).
Parents, especially fathers, are responsible to instruct their children in the Word of God. We may delegate some of our responsibility to the church, but we must not abdicate it. There is a place for formal teaching when our children are living under our roof. Formal instruction is important but informal instruction is more important. Parents need to be prepared to address the questions and objections our children have to the faith (1 Peter 3:15-16). If we remain mute, our children assume there is no answer.
The Hot Topics
*“Of the 10,000 religions in the world, it is so arrogant to think that ours is the only one that is true.” *“Religion has led to some of the worst atrocities the world has ever experienced.” *“Does evolution explain away the existence of God?” *“Why do we believe the Bible is a revelation from God?” *“How can we be sure Jesus rose from the dead?” *”Why should one wait until marriage to engage in sexual relations?”
- It is within your power to evangelize your children and grandchildren (Matthew 18:1-10; 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 1:5).
Evangelizing is really a subcategory of teaching. It is separated here for emphasis. Instruction in God’s Word often leads to children becoming good moral people; but we want our children to have a relationship with God. According to 2 Timothy 3:14-15, when did Timothy start learning the truth that enabled him to understand God’s plan of salvation? According to Matthew 18:1-10, at what stage of life can people truly believe in Christ?
Never assume that hanging around the Gospel at home or church means that your children and grandchildren have embraced the Gospel. Never coax your children into believing. It is a decision they must own. Some children will have a memorable moment of conversion and others may just grow right into faith in Christ. Early childhood conversions are frequently followed by re-commitments to the Gospel later in life.
- It is within your power to set up clear boundaries for how you want your children and grandchildren to behave (Exodus 20:3-17).
Parents need to set up reasonable boundaries regarding chores, allowances, media, friends, dating, sex, etc. Boundaries that are too tight or loose can lead children to resent their parents. Solicit the help of experienced parents on where to set boundaries.
Grandparents should learn the boundaries the parents have set for their children and help them maintain them. You may need to teach your grandchildren that the boundaries in your home may be somewhat different than the boundaries in other places and homes.
Within this point, It is within your power to praise your children and grandchildren they are staying in bounds (letter of Paul; Revelation 2-3). The best way to get a repeat performance of good behavior is to praise your child for doing the right thing. Positive reinforcement (affirmation) is more life changing than negative reinforcement (punishment). It is also within your power to correct your children and grandchildren when they step out of bounds (Hebrew 12:7-11). Too many parents try to be their child’s friend instead of parent. They will have many friends over the course of their lifetime but they will only have one set of parents who have the responsibility to confront, correct, and discipline. To spank or not to spank–that is the question? (See Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15; 29:17.) The fact that parents intervene is more important than the method they use. Other methods of discipline include time outs, deprivation of privileges, isolation from where they want to be, writing things out, etc. Sometimes natural consequences are the best teacher (being in trouble with the law, penalties inflicted by authorities, making restitution, etc.).
Final Thoughts The earlier parents start doing the things within their power to do, the greater the probability that their children will turn out the way they desire. The earliest years are the most important. But it is never too late to start doing the right things.