Dear Intentional Parent, Don’t forget this!
The phrase ‘intentional parenting’ has recently become so glamorised and it’s such a ‘cool’ way to distinguish yourself as a type of parent that takes the job seriously. It takes a lot to be an intentional parent and a lot of us may have to rethink that title or put in the right measure of work to earn it.
I am a firm believer that the foremost and most important life skill we can offer our children is partnership with the Holy Spirit. If you achieve everything else in parenting but fail to disciple your children, the world will do the job for you and nothing good may come out of that. It is our responsibility to equip our children to hold unto Christ in an immoral world.
There is an urgency in Heaven for us to break this cycle of parenting where we factor in everything else but raising Spirit-filled children. An over-reliance on Sunday schools, Church activities and Bible clubs is a sign of lazy parenting and will not do the job. At best, they can only act as supplements, not substitutes.
All round intentional parenting is by no means an easy task which is why we must partner with the Holy Spirit and leverage that advantage. The Scripture provides us with direct instructions and parenting models and one of my favourite Scriptures on this is Deuteronomy 6 vs 6-9 which states:
‘Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’
New Revised Standard Version
Notice certain key words here – RECITE, TALK, BIND, WRITE
RECITE literally means to repeat aloud from memory. You cannot give what you do not have, and this applies to every area of life, not just parenting. When we lack the foundational knowledge of God and a personal revelation of Him, abdicating the responsibility of Godly parenting becomes more attractive and even compelling. Set aside time to study the word, seek mentors, intentionally grow your knowledge of the word and only then would you know it enough to recite it to your children.
TALK. Notice the pattern shown to us in this Scripture. Conversations about God should not be limited to certain times of the day or certain locations. Resist the norm of ‘allocating’ only morning and evening devotion times to studying/teaching Scripture. A simple hack is to find a way to draw scriptural analogies into your discussions with your children. Whether it is in answering their questions, disciplining them, commending them, draw from the Scripture. Resist the temptation to conform to the pressure of making your family’s relationship with God a well-kept secret. If there are friends, families, conversations, or places with whom or where you cannot freely express your relationship with God, your children are watching. Do not let them believe that this is Okay, retrace your steps. TALK about it EVERYWHERE.
BIND. This here is my absolute favourite. It says, ‘Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead!’ Parenting is one context where you will not get away with saying one thing and doing another. Children will ultimately do what they observe more than what they are told. Imagine having a sign on your forehead – boldness, unabashed, audacious. Refuse to be that Christian who thinks its okay to bend a little in certain situations and conversations. Maintain your stand, do not send mixed signals to your children,
WRITE. Ever visited somewhere that had the sign ‘beware of dogs’ or ‘CCTV in operation’? If you are like me, once you see the former especially, you comport and even consider calling your host to escort you into the premises (insert emoji). Your family’s Christian status is something that should be a permanent part of your identity. Teach your children that we have the image of Christ and must represent Him on ALL occasions. When people encounter your family, no matter the context, let them see, perceive and leave with clarity on where you stand as a family.
Recently, I heard someone say this: ‘what we do while raising children as Christians is just seed sowing. When they become adults, they stop seeing God as the ‘God’ of their parents, get to know Him for themselves and ‘mature’ as Christians’. Then she finished off by saying ‘this was our own experience too. They will grow into it’.
This understanding is not strange to many, albeit subconscious. This is a mind conditioning that holds us back from actively steering our children into a relationship with God. We go with the understanding that they all they need are the basics.
Here’s a short story to show you why this would NOT be enough, especially in this decade:
Recently, a parent showed me a video about a new and compulsory curriculum to be introduced in schools in the country we reside. She has two kids in the same school, and they fled their home country because of violence. She said she hadn’t had a good night sleep in the weeks since she saw that video and her only option was to return to the home they fled from with her two youngest children until they were older as they were at an impressionable age and couldn’t tell right from wrong. Her older kids would be fine, she said as they can tell right from wrong.
I know a lot of Christian parents, especially in the developed countries are also worried about this because a lot of conflicting information and ideologies have become acceptable and we cannot practically shield our children from them.
An author described raising children using the analogy of ‘wet cement’ that hardens with time. Wet cement will ultimately harden and if you do the right thing, you achieve your desired results when it hardens but if you don’t, it still hardens anyway and your job becomes much more difficult or near impossible.
There are no perfect human beings and certainly, no perfect parents. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit and intentionality, we can teach our children to experience a thriving relationship with God. Our children do not have to become adults and ‘get it’ before they begin to align with the truth of the Gospel, and we must put in the work.
Thanks for reading! God bless you.