“You must influence them; do not let them influence you!” Jeremiah 15:9c, NLT
Those were God’s words to Jeremiah, regarding the potential influences of Babylon upon the captives living in Babylon. Our children live in a culture of competing influences for their faith and attention. As parents we have the joyous responsibility and ability to shape and influence our children biblically. Occasionally, I have met a parent who has said, “I don’t want to influence my children one way or the other regarding religion.” If we don’t someone else will gladly pick up the leadership mantle you threw aside in your child’s life.
Successful parenting happens out of joy. Duty or responsibility makes our parenting burdensome. When our love for our children moves us from the responsibility of raising the two year old or the teenager to joy we become highly influential in their lives.
Discover their personality types. When our children are born we watch them so carefully observing moment by moment their emerging personality types. If you haven’t read a book about personality types I’d recommend Delight in Your Child’s Design. There is also helpful information at Focus on the Family’s website.
Understanding personality types are helpful in motivating and helping your children achieve their potential at each stage of their lives. Every adult that I’ve ever helped with a personality quiz has expressed how much it encouraged them in their ministry, career and self understanding. If as parents we discover our children’s personality types we are equipped to understand what motivates their personalities, personality clashes and drives.
Recently I asked the executive leaders of our congregation to read Strength Finders and take the strengths assessment quiz for their insight and action guide. My son recently read and took the SF assessment in his leadership program in college. It has been helpful to them and we are encouraging one another in our action guides. Imagine the understanding and trust you’ve built with your children as they become adolescents because of the insight into their lives that they know you have.
We are not machines or animals however. We are human beings created in the image of God. His love, kindness, mercy, grace and power all flow to us out of His holiness. The faith that He has put in our hearts transforms us into positive (faith filled) and helpful (empowering) parents. He has given us the responsibility of shaping these children and influencing them for His glory. He also gives us the power and ability to patiently become the faithful influence in their lives. As one Dad told me, “My son is coming to me now for advice and help rather than his peers at school. We’re talking again.” God has put the gift of faith into their lives as well. Water that faith with your prayers and influence.
Teach them the faith prayerfully and lovingly while they are young. Last night a child brought me their children’s Bible Story book and cheerfully began telling me all the Bible stories in the book. She can’t read yet, but she is learning the faith joyfully from her mother and dad.
Fill your home with good books, read them to your child and let them see you reading as well. I’ll write a post about this subject in the near future.
Pray daily with your children. Before they walk out of the door of your home, lead them in prayer and give them a big hug. Pray with them before they go to bed at night. Teach them to pray with scripture. Let them hear you praying. Prayer begets prayer.
Speak encouragingly to your children. Let your conversation become seasoned with the faith-filled promises of God’s Word. Catch them doing something right and praise them for it. Never cheapen your praise by wasting it on what they know to do, like homework or putting clothes in the hamper. Praise them for the encouraging someone else, the extra credit work they do for school, for helping you when they could be playing a video game. When they disobey let them know the why you believe better about them, address the wrong without condemning the child. Your child’s spirit thrives upon your approval.
There is much more to this, but you know, you’re the Dad or Mom that God trusted with your kids, have faith in Him, He will help you and answer your prayers.
If you’d like more information on this subject, I’d enjoy pointing you to some more helpful tools.
How do you influence your child?
What are some ways you’d encourage other parents to become a positive influence?
Peace and Joy!