I have to do something most people will tell you to never do before making a speech or writing a blog… I have to admit that I’m not the greatest person to write about what to tell your children. I’m a parent of one child who just turned 3 years old. My experience credential doesn’t rate me very high.
Having said that, though, I do like to think of myself as a Dad who tries really hard and one who prays about my parenting and listens for God’s instruction. My wife and I make it a priority to talk with, discipline, and encourage our little man.
So, if you want an easy plan for raising a godly child, you should probably just stop reading. If you have little ones or you have grandchildren and you don’t really know what you’re doing either, this may be for you.
You see, the words we say carry a lot of weight.
They’re important and can often set things in motion. The words we speak about ourselves and others matter. What I say to Riley matters. What I say to Melissa (my wife) matters. What I speak, often comes about. I can be so quick to speak discipline and say, “Stop!” (as I should) but so slow to say the positive things I want to come out in his life… the things I want him to believe and receive.
Here are a few…
“You are loved!”
I need him to know that his mom and dad love him unconditionally. He’ll associate God’s love with my love some day and he needs to know that he can never do too much bad stuff for the love of God. That goes for my love as well.
“I forgive you.”
My kid messes up. He doesn’t always listen. He throws stuff when he knows he shouldn’t. He doesn’t always obey willingly and immediately. When he doesn’t obey, we discipline him. When he apologizes, we forgive him. He needs to know that grace is real and it flows from Jesus. He needs to know what it’s like to be forgiven and to forgive.
I know I’m probably alone in this, but I don’t always get it right. :-) A month or so ago, I had come home from a tough day, Riley didn’t want to cooperate, Melissa and I weren’t exactly singing love songs to each other, and I yelled at him. It scared him. Like for real. He looked at me through tears and told me how scared it made him. What was I to do? Try to be tough dad and keep yelling until he obeyed or tell him I was sorry? I wouldn’t want him yelling at his mother or myself like that. I apologized and told him that I mess up too. 15 seconds later, he wanted me to read him a bedtime story and sit in my lap. It helps everyone when we’re willing to admit we don’t have it all together.
“You are who God says you are.”
There’s a fight for our childrens’ identity and confidence. They need to know who they are and that they have value because they were created in the image of God on purpose and for a purpose. I want him to know that he won’t always behave perfectly, but his identity is secure and known because God perfectly created him.
“Other people matter.”
Is there anything worse than a selfish and entitled adult? I don’t want Riley to be that. I want him to be grateful and giving. I want him to be a friend to the friendless and an advocate for those without. He needs to know that Jesus loves them as much as him… he should love them too.
“You’re a leader.”
It may sound a little prideful, but I believe Riley is born to lead. He’s a leader of his classmates, his future family, and the people he’ll be called to invest in and impact. He doesn’t have to follow the trends, especially if they lead away from Jesus. He needs to lead himself and others to be more like Jesus and follow God’s plan.
“Generosity is always right.”
It’s always a good time to give. I try to teach Riley this at church with offering and at home when Melissa and I talk about finances. He needs to know that if he has a godly impulse to give, it’s always right. God is generous. I want him to see that in me and hear it from me. I want him to believe God’s generous to him and can use him to be generous to others.
What phrases would you add?