Our Free Book To You (4-6)

To Raise Our Children Again

Chapter 4

Look Alikes

We would tell our children all the time how great they are!  In fact, not only do we think they are great but we would tell them the God of the entire universe thinks they are great too! We tried to raise our daughters with the idea that they were great. We tried to reinforce how wonderful they were as much as possible. We 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. We would tell our daughters that when it comes to men don’t ever let a man disrespect you, they do it once they will do it again. We would tell them no one has the right to your image except God. What God says about you is who you really are. We would reiterate  to them that God believes in them and we believe in them. We would say, "Be confident, honey!"

It is necessary to instill a strong healthy self image into your children which will carry them through life as they grow and mature. We feel even stronger now about this with our grandchildren. We still believe they can do anything God has called them to do. We feel very strongly about protecting our grandchildren’s image, and we still encourage our daughters, when we can, about what a great job they are doing as a parent. 

Teaching them to properly like and love themselves is monumental to their development. A healthy self image helps conquer so many insecurities and shortcomings that happen later on in life. Believing in yourself, having confidence in yourself, and having a healthy self worth covers so many things they will face as adults. 

We home-schooled our girls, so the opportunity to go to proms was not necessarily easy to do. I can remember walking through a department store with them one time and as soon as they saw the beautiful gowns they immediately started saying, “Oh I hope I can go to a prom one of these days and wear a beautiful dress!”

That day came for one of them to go to prom and I remember telling a friend that I needed to find a dress. But I thought they were expensive and I was doubtful I could pay full price because money was a bit tight. I thought of maybe going to a consignment shop or something. My friend gasped and said, “Oh you can’t do that, I went to prom on a borrowed dress one time and felt so ugly in it! She needs a new dress, and she needs to feel beautiful and like a princess in it!”

Honestly I felt a little bad that I hadn’t thought of that until then. She was right though. Every girl going to prom wants to feel beautiful, and I was wanting to help my daughter have the best experience she could ever have. I knew we didn’t have the money for a really nice dress but I was willing to find a way!

Later that week I opened the front door to clean the glass and there was an envelope marked,  “money for a prom dress”. I called for my daughter to come and see the envelope marked with her name on it. We looked at each other in amazement, neither one of us had a clue where it came from. We both knew that ultimately God was behind this wonderful blessing and the person He used wanted to remain anonymous. We thanked God and went shopping.

The point here is not that she had to have an expensive dress or that it needed to come from a store. The point is as her mother I needed to understand the importance of this time in her life to feel beautiful and special because she is!  God wants that for our children and He wants to bless them with opportunities to feel special in His eyes. She knew God meant for her to feel beautiful in every way possible. In fact, she had already been out shopping and had picked out a few dresses she liked without my knowledge. God honored her desire and the money in the envelope more than covered the dress, so as a result she was able to have  jewelry and shoes as well. She looked amazing for prom that night. I’m confident that she felt every bit the princess in her beautiful gown.

We love our children and want what is best for them and we want them to feel really great about themselves.  As parents we need to realize our heavenly Father wants all of that for them and more. He was the guiding force in this blessing for our daughter the entire time. He wanted her to feel special and beautiful and He wants this for all of His children.

What forms in a child so often remains with them throughout the rest of their lives. Those insecurities and inadequacies stay there and they will have to deal with them. But so much of this can be avoided by being a positive reinforcement as their parents in simply encouraging their self image along the right paths.  Verbal encouragements such as; “ You can do it, be confident, don't listen to them, be bold, have faith in God, trust He’s there, don't let failure define you, get up don't quit, and try again, and again”. Obviously the list could go on and on.

 We should be adamant in defending our children’s self image from anyone or anything that would try to tear it down or try to destroy it. Only God has the right to tell us who we are and He says we are wonderfully created in His image. We would reiterate this more now than we ever did. The creator of the whole universe likes us, He loves us, and  anything that anyone else says means nothing unless it lines up with Him.

We need to tell our children how much we believe in them.This is so important to their self-esteem. “Mommy and Daddy believe in YOU!”  They need to know they can do whatever they want in life and be whoever they want in life because God believes in them and so do you.  Encourage a God confidence in them, reminding them to keep His image of who they are and not allow others to tell them anything different. Emphasize to them over and over again, “ your peers do not define you, other people's opinions do not define you, whether they be good or bad, these do not define you!”  This can not be overstated. We should never allow anyone other than God to define our children. He always knows what is best for them because He is the one who writes their destiny. 

So here it is, If we were to raise our children again, we would spend  much more time building their self image, their self esteem and self respect than we ever did. We would place a greater emphasis on how great they truly are. 

 

Chapter 5

Daddy, Daddy

 

We covered love, image and right up there with these has to be the Father’s heart. Our children are not just average they are extraordinary because they are extraordinary to God. God the Father sees our children as His children. He is a Father to them just like He is a Father to us or anyone that identifies with Him as His child.

In raising our children we spent time telling them how much His heart is for them. He is a Father and the best Father. I would tell my own daughters, “ There will be times I will disappoint you because I am a human father, but your heavenly Father will never disappoint you. His heart is there for you and you are a child of the King. He doesn't just love you but His love is that of a perfect Father watching over His children.”  

As parents we should make it more of a priority in telling our children about their God given position. They are royalty, a prince, or princess with God as their King. Our children must know that they have the right, from their heavenly Father, to act as His son or daughter. The greatest example of how they are to interact with Him would be how His Son, Jesus Christ interacted with Him. We find over 180 times Jesus referred to God as His Father and through His blood, He secured the same ability for us to call Him Father.

 Our children were created in His image to be His son or daughter, He is their Father and He wants them to know His Father’s heart. He wants them to be His divine representatives, to walk on this earth as His children should walk, being fearless and bold, knowing that they have a Father in heaven who backs them up. 

There was a time when one of our daughters was just learning to walk, there was a wasp which landed on the outside screen of our door. She, being curious, walked over and from the inside touched the screen, and the wasp stung her. She started crying and her little finger began swelling up. I was angry, so I went outside the door and killed that wasp but that wasn't enough. I thought to myself how dare that wasp or any wasp hurt my child, my heart was fully engaged,  I tracked down the nest and killed every last one of them. Now this is just a simple story of my father's heart for my child, but what is our Father in heaven’s heart like for his children?  I could tell you many stories of times where someone hurt or offended my children. My heart was to protect them and back them up whatever the situation called for. I love my girls and I am there to defend them, support them, to be there with them in whatever they do. Still to this day, I feel if there was anything I could do to protect, defend or show them I believe in them I would because that's my heart.  Now think with me, I'm an imperfect father who will make mistakes, but God, our Heavenly father, never makes mistakes with us and certainly not with our children. 

They are great in our eyes but they are greater still in His. They are not to fall into an average, normal place in life but were created to follow the path their Heavenly Father set them on. They were created to be His sons and daughters doing business on His behalf.  Why? Because He really does see them as His son and daughter. They are not just our children but we are raising them up to be His children as well. They need to understand this and see everyday that their Father in heaven has such a heart for them. Heaven is their home and earth is where they do business, big Kingdom business for Him. As a parent this is part of our God given role. He gave us these children because He trusts we will raise them up to be the children He wants them to be. 

As  pastors, for many years we ran into so many people who are Christians but have never known God as a Father. We are to be, not only loved by God, but loved by God as a Father. He is a perfect Father. It is important to note we are talking about being intimate with God as a Father. We already mentioned that Jesus referred to God as His Father over 180 times but it is important to understand there were two ways back then of knowing this word Father. First, out in public a child would refer to their parent as father, a proper more respectful way, and then in the home when the door is closed and nobody but the parents are there, a child would say daddy or mommy which was the intimate way.  This is what we need to instruct over and over to our children. Jesus addressed God as His Father “daddy” as one inside the house. Interestingly, even now my daughters will call me for coffee and say they need some daddy time. This is what everyone needs to be able to say in approaching their heavenly Father, I need some “daddy time.”

As Jesus walked on this earth His relationship with God was as a son to a Father. Our children need to know that God is also their Father. Many times we would tell our children God loves them and that He will always love them. To teach them to relate to Him as a father, and then receive His love as a child makes such a big difference in any believer’s life. To teach our children this from an early age is going to make them so secure, knowing they were created to do so much more in life then just live it. They were created to live for Him as His son or daughter doing business on His behalf. 

While we never tried to force them to do things for God they were uncomfortable with, we would however, try to work with them in knowing that God their Father believed in them and they should therefore believe in themselves. Their Father in Heaven has their life in His hand and they have a destiny He wants to raise them to fulfill.  Eventually, through this they will learn to do for God on their own, whether it is comfortable or uncomfortable. We need to communicate to them that  they were meant for more in life than just being average. Just as the scripture states raise up a child in the way he is to go and he will never depart from this course. So as parents the greatest path we can raise them up into is the path God, their Father, would want for them. There are no average children to God. He sees all of His children with His plan for their lives.

I know it wasn't until after a couple of years of walking with God that I started catching what it really meant in Psalms where it states, “many are His thoughts toward me.” We were fearfully, wonderfully and thoughtfully created and He saw us in our mother's womb. It literally means He is thinking about us and what we are to be and do in this life. He gave great thought to our lives. It’s not until the 20’s or 30’s that the majority of Christians learn this. But to raise your child in this way is to give them an amazing edge in life. We would tell our daughters that God had a plan for their lives, and they have a destiny and call in Him. Why?  Because any father wants the best for his children, therefore how much more does God the Father want the best for His children?  We are to teach our children what a good and perfect Father He is to them and help them to relate back to Him in this way. As their earthly parents, we are here to help them learn,  trust, and receive their heavenly Father’s love for them.

He will never see them as insignificant, it doesn't matter what they become in life, He sees them as His own special possession. Whatever they become, as His prince or princess, they represent Him wherever life takes them. Make sure your children know they have a big God who’s heart is for them as a father, wanting to use them for His purposes in the Kingdom.

Those who walk with their God are above average, not in an arrogant way, but far above what the world says is average. The world wants to pull them down and make them feel inferior, unimportant, and nothing special. However, our Father in Heaven never sees them this way. He sees them as His own, training them as His children, with you raising them up in the way they should go and knowing they will never depart from this. 

It's like a huge game going on out there in the world and God wants them in the game. He sees them playing for His side where He is constantly backing them up as their Father and teaching them to always believe He is there working on their behalf. Make sure they know that He is always wanting the best for them and He will never, ever leave them. He has a plan for them, a destiny to fulfill. He is with them guiding them and leading them every step of the way. They need to walk like a prince or princess on this earth, not like a hireling. 

So if we were to raise our children again, we would impart this into them more than we ever did. They can never hear it enough. We would have them continually hearing that they are God’s chosen, He sees them as His prince or princess and His Kingdom belongs to them.

Chapter 6

Lighten Up

 

We live in a world today where people are judgemental and critical of everyone and everything, they feel they have a right to be this way. As parents we need to make sure we impart to our children how to be kind to their fellow man and have the ability to give grace to others. We are taught as Christians it's not so much as who is right or wrong but did we show compassion and mercy?  This is such an important aspect in raising our children. 

 Even as adults we still do not like the idea of being wrong, but more importantly, we don’t like being seen as wrong by others. We tend to fight pretty hard at times to be right. We want to make sure that it goes down as a win for our side. We will do this even at the cost of others by making sure they were the ones seen as wrong. What we really should have done is show a little kindness toward the one that was wrong and try to be as gracious as we can. But what's fair and what’s not my fault has become more important in our society today.

We teach our children from birth right and wrong. We give them rules as they grow that we expect them to adhere to. When they don't do what’s right then there are obvious consequences or there should be. But these consequences are based on the disapproval of their actions not of them. We need to be clear with our children otherwise they associate the disapproval with themselves instead of their actions.  As their parents we will always love them and  approve of them as a person. They need to be able to distinguish between our approval of them and our disapproval of their actions. If not, they will always relate the two together and start to seek  approval to reaffirm themselves. They will seek it from whoever will give them approval whether it comes from us or not. The true danger is when they seek out approval from the wrong group of people.

 Their need for approval can  become so powerful and play such a detrimental role in their development. Children don't want their parents to disapprove of them. As young children it hurts them when they think mommy or daddy are angry at them because they didn't approve of them. The child will justify their actions to try to prove they are right and may carry that into adulthood by always trying to prove they are right in order to seek approval from others. 

We tried our best to show our girls we approved of them no matter what, even when they were wrong and there were consequences to their actions. We may not have approved of what they did but we still approved of them. While having to punish we would reinforce to them we loved them and nothing they did ever changed our love for them. We would try in our approval to be as gracious as we could by letting them know even though they made a mistake, it's okay, it didn't change how we felt about them. 

To teach our children to be kind and know how to be gracious to others is a must. Knowing how to cut others, as they say, some slack has got to be part of raising our children. We should teach them how to show compassion in an uplifting way to those who have been wrong, and when they can, to lighten their load. They need to learn to be kind and gracious to someone who has been wrong.  Please don't misinterpret this by thinking we mean ignore the wrong.  No that's not what we mean, just don’t be so quick or harsh in judging their wrong. Teach your children not to be so fast in proving how right they were that they end up being wrong in the process and therefore creating a double standard by their harsh judgement. 

 In my early years as a minister, proving I was right in what needed to be done was so important to me. But one day in a leaders meeting we were discussing something that had gone wrong and the question came up as to who was to blame. I instantly, while laughing, pointed to someone else. Even though I was joking, that person started trying to defend themselves because they were the one to blame, and it became awkward really quick. While the person did not realize I was kidding and they were getting embarrassed, the main leader, who had more experience at the helm, diffused the whole situation. He simply said, “Why does somebody have to be at fault? Blame me then if you need to blame someone, let’s look at what we need to do.” I thought what a great way to handle that situation!  Instead of looking at who to blame, let's just figure out how to fix it and move on. Instantly the pressure was lifted off of the person who was at fault in this situation.

There is so much pressure we can take off of our children by just teaching them to be gracious toward others. Instead of being quick to blame, lighten up on others and lighten up on themselves. So what if they are wrong, then do what's necessary to make it right. Go ahead and take the responsibility for being wrong, there is no need to fear this. People are still going to approve  or disapprove of you whether you were right or wrong. People are going to judge, whether they realize it or not, because the truth is, we all really do judge others. This is where we need to work with our children to be secure. 

 We should not be more caught up in finding who is at fault or how unfair that was. Instead, be that broker or mediator that diffuses the whole thing by seeing people as more important than you being seen as right or making sure it was fair to yourself at the cost of others. The bible states we should, when possible, try to cover others and this is an example of love. Now again, don’t misunderstand us, if a person is constantly making the same mistakes over and over then most likely you won't have to show they are wrong because their life will reveal this to others, you won't have to.

Teaching our children how to be kind and give grace to others ultimately brings the same back to them.  It will also save them years of pressure from trying to prove they are right, making sure everything is fair, or trying to get the approval of others. Instead giving grace to others, even if they don’t deserve it because that is exactly what Christ did for us. 

 So a man sows so a man will reap. What do you want your children sowing? Sowing grace to others or making sure it’s fair and they are right?  We should teach them to understand the position of the other person and learn to listen because there might be another side to that situation. We should spend more time on helping them to understand people and help them to see that it is not so much about what's fair .Teach them to not be so quick to prove how right they are but to be compassionate about other people's feelings. We are not saying they have to always tippy toe around sensitive people but knowing how to properly respond to them is important. 

One of our daughters had enrolled in a new ballet class, when we picked her up after her third lesson she was in tears. She told us she wasn’t liked by the other girls and she had been trying her best to fit into the new class. As her mother I wanted to give them all a piece of my mind and pull her out of the class. It broke my heart to see her so hurt and rejected. So when I suggested we find another class she looked at me and said she didn’t want to quit. She told me it just made her realize she never wants to make someone else feel the way it made her feel. She was the adult that day and I was so proud of her learning an important lesson on being kind and gracious to others.

 Life, at times, is not fair, but we can’t go through life always pointing out how unfair something is or we will come across as cry babies and whiners. Think about it, do you want this to be your child as an adult? We are not talking about speaking up to injustices, we’re talking about our children knowing how to simply survive in a world that will not be fair at times and responding to others without being harsh, critical and judgmental. How often do we want to look at adults and say grow up, get over it, and quit whining about how unfair something is? They take their ball and go home just like they were still eight years old. Here comes the point, this is how they were taught when they were eight years old and never taught anything else.  They really are being a cry baby, whining about life and some unfair thing that happened to them. 

It is our responsibility, as parents, to teach and train our children to be the type of person later in life that others want to be around. We want them to be the person who is willing to extend  grace into a situation and move on past the wrong or unfairness and help fix it instead. Let's teach our children to be kind and gracious toward others. 

So if we were to go back and raise our family again we would teach them to lighten up on themselves and others by extending grace and to always be kind hearted to those around them whether it is reciprocated or not.