Recently, a Māori pastor and close friend of mine, Matai Bennett, made a post on his Facebook page that caught my attention. It was a picture of Matai and his teenage daughter sitting at a restaurant table. She had a smile on her face the size of the Southern Alps in Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand.
Here is Matai’s post: “I had lunch with my daughter today because she came home early for school. I loved on her by spending special time with her. I invested in her by listening more than speaking.
No need for discipline when a parent invests double doses of ‘spending special time with’ and ‘listening more than speaking’ to their children.”
Matai goes on to say, “Great kids don’t just happen. You need to invest in them, love them and discipline them. No discipline or boundaries produces no inner boundaries in children. No love in word and deed produces a child who will look for love elsewhere. No investment in children produces no return in children.” Sounds good to me.
So, what does a parent who is a loyal advocate and faithful intercessor look like? Because every child is different, there are no perfect formulas for parenting. However, there are general principles, concepts and guidelines that apply to most children. Let’s explore some ideas that might help both parents and their children. Why? Effective parenting is easier on both the parents and their children. And every child has the right to not only be fed, but to be well-led.
Let’s consider some wisdom from the Scriptures in Lamentations 2:19. “Pour out your heart…before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your…children.” In other words, parents can bring their parenting fears to God. Every family will experience ups and downs in parent-child relationships. Parenting is scary. However, we parents have an advocate to whom we can bring our concerns and fears. God understands. God has advice and answers. God listens to the prayers of all parents, especially hurting parents, because God is a parent, too.
The Word for Today magazine gives us some practical advice on getting God involved in your parenting through prayer. “…When your child is in crisis, turn to Jesus. But don’t wait for a crisis to come. When you send them off to school each day, do so with a blessing. When you tell them goodnight, cover them in your prayers. When they are stumped in a homework assignment they can’t handle, pray with them about it. Pray that your children will have a profound sense of their place in this world, and a heavenly place in the next one.”
Parents, you can do this! Prayer is not weird. Prayer is normal. Make a prayer investment in your children. Be your children’s faithful intercessor. Most times, the answer to a parent’s prayer is a parent praying for their children.
Now, let’s consider a parent being a loyal advocate. Here’s more from Word for Today: “Fear turns some parents into prison guards who monitor every minute and check the background of every friend. They stifle growth and communicate distrust. A family with no breathing room suffocates a child. Fear can also create permissive parents. Feeling their child may be too confined or fenced in, they lower all boundaries. High on hugs and low on discipline, they don’t realize appropriate discipline is an expression of love. Permissive parents or paranoid parents may be well meaning but not always beneficial to their children’s future.”
Let’s close with short sentences on being a parent who is a loyal advocate and a faithful intercessor.
A child who lives with criticism learns to condemn. A child who lives with hostility learns to fight. A child who lives with fear learns to be apprehensive. A child who lives with jealousy learns to feel guilty. A child who lives with tolerance learns to be patient. A child who lives with encouragement learns to be confident. A child who lives with praise learns to be appreciative.
A child who lives with approval learns to like himself. A child who lives with recognition learns it is good to have a goal. A child who lives with honesty learns what truth is. A child who lives with fairness learns justice. A child who lives with security learns to have faith in himself and those around him. A child who lives with friendliness learns the world is a nice place in which to live.
Parents, now is your time to make your children’s present and future better. Parents, you were born for this. In child rearing, the days go long but the years go fast. Be intentional now. Be engaged now. Take time now. Make yourself better and you will likely make your children better.