Now that I am a grandfather (Papaw is the name my grandson has bestowed upon me), it is easier to recall the decades of raising two sons and a daughter. I loved fathering, almost everything about it. I say ‘almost’ because there were those times of confusion, disorientation and exhaustion. But I would not trade one single day because I chose to love every age period my children went through, even the ‘terrific two’s’ and the teen years of learning through natural resistance.
Everyday was a gift from God to hold them, tuck them in at night, pray over their “bad” dreams, kiss them and listen to their pure hearts. Even during pregnancy, I would talk to my children almost every night. Mary and I would lie in bed and I would read them stories from the story books we were collecting. We sang songs to them and we prayed over them. We prayed perfect health and development, joy and acceptance into our family. With our second and third child, we introduced them to their siblings and together we would speak words of anticipation, waiting upon their birth (Psalm 139:13-16).
From conception we wanted our children to know they were accepted, approved of and loved unconditionally. We wanted them to know this was their time to be fashioned and formed to reflect the image of their heavenly Father who was the One bringing them into existence (Acts 17: 24-26). It was He who chose to place them into our lives to be their parents. We knew they were created before the foundation of the earth and we knew our time with them was only for a season (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1: 4-5). They were never a mistake or an afterthought. They were always wanted, never rejected. Did we have perfect children? No. Were we perfect parents? No, never.
- Enjoy and embrace everyday; you’ll never get it back.
- Value your children in every way you can. Show them honor and respect.
- Do not speak down to them.
- Do not make fun of them or compare them to others; always be the encourager, all the while, speaking truth.
- Teach them; impart to them everything you can. Remember that every moment is a teachable moment. Mentor them in how to work, how to care for possessions, how to handle finances and, mostly, how to give.
- Read to them. Play with them. Date them.
- Never speak words of power over them, but rather empower them to make right decisions.
- Don’t try to be their friend; be their parent and discipline them.
- Create healthy boundaries for them and enforce those boundaries.
- Turn the TV and the computer games off and have family time regularly.
- They do not need a lot of stuff, things or possessions, but, rather, teach them to explore and discover, to use their imagination and creativity. (The #1 favorite toy of children around the world is a stick and #2, a box.)
- Share in a family devotional time that relates to them, not you.
- Discover their natural gifts and celebrate their personality traits and then provide the necessary reinforcement.
- Teach them to love and obey God, to pray and place Him first in their lives.
- Pray for and with them daily. Take the lead in apologizing when necessary.
And lastly, always reinforce to them there is nothing that will ever change the fact that they are your son or daughter and that no matter what they do or say, you are committed to them and will forever love them.