There are a large variety of areas in which you need to speak into your child’s life. You need to help them with finances, schooling, jobs, God, ethics, relationships, and so on.
In each of these areas, you need specific wisdom and insight into how to speak well to them. I like to develop little phrases that I can go back to again and again. Some I invent. Others I borrow. In most sports, one of the keys is “keep your eye on the ball,” which is a good life principle as well.
However, there are several ways of relating to our children that apply to any and every situation. Let me suggest three of them.
First, value your children. Children can be overwhelming. It’s easy to see the things that you could be doing if you didn’t have them.
Children can cause you trouble and pain. They have their own minds and wills. They don’t always follow you or do the things that you like. They sometimes decide to get angry or do crazy things in public. Let’s be honest. It can be wearying at times.
It’s so important that we don’t let the struggles cause us to miss what a blessing they are. The Bible tells us, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3, 5).
Second, be a calm presence in their lives.
This has two parts. First, we need to be a presence in their lives. Quantity of time matters. We can’t just show up when there’s a problem. We need to be developing relationships with them.
The second part is that we need to be a calm presence. We should not let the children bear the brunt of our anxiety. There are ways to resolve anxiety. Dumping on our children is not a good one.
Think of Jesus and the disciples. He had opportunities to speak into the disciples’ lives because He was with them constantly. He was also a calm presence in their lives, even while they were really struggling.
Third, do teach them.
It’s easy to think that we might not have much to offer or that you have no influence. You do. Your children do listen, and you have much to teach. God has put you in the position of parent in large part for the very purpose of helping your child learn how to live.
Whatever other things you do in discipline, let the majority of your shaping of their lives be through conversation, discussion, and instruction.
The Bible tells us, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
The book of Proverbs is a great guide. The book is basically a father teaching his child about the consequences of various actions.
These are rather simple principles. I find, though, that the most important principles are generally the simplest.
What are some general principles that you might offer for speaking into our children’s lives?