I am not going to claim to be the perfect parent. This article is not about me being the best at parenting. I made many mistakes and have even told my oldest in humor, “honey your mother and I had to learn on someone”. I once heard a Christian leader state, that if there is anything you could tell your first born later in life, it’s that you are sorry. So please don’t think I am coming from an “I know and you don’t” mentality. Instead, I am admitting I now know these are the areas that are really important and if I could go back and do it all again, these are the areas I would do better.
I have told my children that family is important . God started with a family and He is ending with a family and all throughout the bible He used family. He built a nation out of a family, then sent His Son (family) to adopt us as His sons and daughters. You cannot go near God the Father (family) and not know how important the raising of family is to God. Now, this writing is simply looking back at the parenting job my wife and I did do, and asking what would I change, add, or do differently. This is written to those who are in the beginning or even the middle of raising your children in hopes that it can help to some degree.
My wife Bettye and I have six wonderful daughters. Their ages ranging from 20-34, with four being married and with that 3 beautiful grandchildren. The result of looking back and reflecting, without regret, believing we did the best we could, I realize we could have done better therefore leaving us much room for improvement. Since our youngest will be graduating in a month from school and entering into her chosen career, the main part of our job is a done deal now. I say this to let all readers know that I’m not thinking from a negative perspective but one of “after the fact”. What we could have done better and knowing how important certain values really are to our family have been my conclusion here.
With that in mind I have twelve areas, so far, that I would like to pass on to you after much reflection. I will present them one at a time over the course of the next few weeks. Again, this is just knowing what I know now with the view of what my wife and I did in raising our children. So here it goes.
1. A Child’s Self Image
I tried to raise my daughters with the idea that they were great. Continually trying to reinforce our love for them as much as possible. I would tell them all the time, don’t you ever let someone tear down your image. Only cowards attack a person’s image, which usually reflects their own poor self image. I would tell them that when it comes to men don’t ever let a man disrespect you, they do it once, they will do it again. I would tell them no one has the right to your image except God. What God says about you is who you really are. I would reiterate this to them that God believes in them, their mother and I believe in them. I would say, “Be confident, honey!”
I believe instilling a strong healthy image into your children will carry them greatly through life as an adult. Even now in looking at this I feel even stronger about this with my grandchildren. I still believe they can do anything God has called them to do. I feel very strongly about protecting my grandchildren’s image, and still remind my daughters, when I can, what a great job they are doing as a parent.
So here it is, If I were to raise my children again, I would spend much more time building their self image, their self esteem and self respect. I would devote more time to this and place a greater emphasis in this area. Teaching them to properly like and love themselves is one of the most important areas you can teach a child. A healthy self image helps conquer so many insecurities and shortcomings that happen later on in life. Believing in self, having confidence in self, and having a healthy self worth covers so many things a child will face. I would be even more adamant than I was in defending my child’s self image from anyone or anything that would try to tear their image down or even attempt to destroy their image. Only God has the right to tell us who we are and He says we are wonderfully created. I would speak this more now than I ever did. The creator of the whole universe likes us and loves us, and pretty much everything that anyone else says means nothing unless it lines up with Him. I would work harder at telling my children how great they are. They can do whatever they want in life and be whoever they want in life. I would tell them I believe in them and so does God. I would instill more of a God confidence in them, reminding them to keep God’s image of who they are and to not allow others to tell them anything different.
Ps 139:13-18 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. NIV