Giving Time to Your Child

This week, as we continue our series here on the blog about Jesus-Centered Parenting, I want to talk about a very simple concept that (for some people) is difficult to turn into reality: giving time to your child.

(To all of my non-parent friends – I hope you can still learn something from this post, even if you aren’t a parent yet. But I also want to let you know that we only have one more post in this series. Beginning in November, we’ll shift to the topic of Forgiveness.)

Giving Time in a Time-Sucking Society

Life is SO incredibly busy, especially during the child-rearing days. It seems that the schedule is packed from the moment your child makes his or her appearance from the womb until the day you leave them in a dorm room for their freshman year of college.

So the idea of giving your children more time when life is already so full can seem overwhelming. But let’s consider something…

First, what’s your primary goal in parenting? I hope it isn’t…

  • to have your kids like you
  • to entertain them everyday
  • to make super popular in the neighborhood
  • or to push them to be the best student or athlete in the school.

giving time2 350x196 - Giving Time to Your ChildRather, I believe your aim should be to see godly character developed within your kid, recognizing their unique personality in the process. This will help produce productive citizens who love Jesus deeply. But part of that process of character development is for your kids to see YOUR character development.But in order for them to see God’s work in you, you have to give them time. This means they need to be around you to see you fail and succeed. They need to see you your best moments and mundane moments. And they need to hear you talk about the ways you have grown as a person so they don’t make the same mistakes you made growing up.

All of this takes time. To give this time to your child, you need to do two things:

1. Make time.

You need to let your child know they are a priority in your life. Yes, you have a job, and responsibilities, and even personal moments that will take you away from them. (Making your child a priority doesn’t mean they get your attention 24/7. In fact, giving TOO much time can be just as big of a problem as not giving your child any time.) But they do need to know they occupy a key spot in your affections.

And for that to be vividly portrayed and felt, they need your time. So make the time. Schedule time with them (I actually put it in my calendar) and don’t let anything (other than a family emergency) interrupt that time. Those times could include:

  • A weekly “family night” of games, play, and just being together.
  • Parent/Child one-on-one dates once a month.
  • Reading the Bible or a bedtime story at least 5 days a week.
  • Enjoying a meal together at least 4 times a week.
  • Taking 30 minutes to play with your child in the activity of their choice.

Anytime you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Let me encourage you to not let your child be the primary recipient of your No. Find ways to let them experience a Yes from you as you say no to everything else.

2. Include them in your time.

Sometimes, you may not be able to say no to something else to give focused time to your kiddos. (That bathroom remodel project isn’t going to finish itself!) But perhaps you could include them in what you are already doing.

  • Have them help you with the household chores.
  • Let them watch the game on TV with you (just keep the remote handy for inappropriate commercials!)
  • Grab one of your kids and have them go shopping with you.
  • Let them “workout” with you if possible.
  • Bring them along with you when you volunteer somewhere.

Giving time to your kids doesn’t have to mean continually altering your schedule around them. Sometimes, its bringing them into whatever activity you are giving your attention.

God as a Model

I think those two points (Making Time and Including them in your time) are what Father God has done for us through Jesus. The Father made time for us by sending God the Son to be with humanity. And yet, Jesus had a mission, which he invites us into. He both makes the time for us and includes us in what He is already doing.

May you do the same with your kids, no matter what age or stage they are. Make some time for them, and include them in what you are already doing with your time.

Empowering Responsibility

By Erin Bird,

We are in a series here in the News & Notes about Jesus-centered parenting. Before I jump into this week’s topic, I just want to say a big “thank you” to everyone who has let me know how this series is positively impacting you. That means a lot – glad to know I’m not just writing into the Internet abyss!

Empowering Your Child
This week, I want to empower you to empower your child through responsibility. I think we can agree that what our world needs are adults who will carry their weight at work and in society. And I believe this preparation is best done not just at school, nor through the Internet, but in the home.

And my encouragement to you is to begin this preparation as soon as you can.

Now, obviously, you can’t give your kid responsibilities on day one. But you can…  Empowering Responsibility blank 350x196 - Empowering Responsibility

  • have them help you pick up their toys when they are 6 months old
  • let them “help” wash dishes in the sink when they are a year old
  • put their clothes in their drawer with you when they are 18 months old
  • or help you “wash” the car when they are two

Most little ones really enjoy “helping.” So do what you can to include them as early as possible. And as they get older, begin to assign them jobs to do as part of the family. (If you do create a “chore” chart, be sure to include yourself so they can see how much you contribute into the functioning of the household.)

Jesus-Centered Empowerment
So all of the above is well and good, but if you notice, it’s just helpful advice. Where does the Jesus-centered motivation come in?

I believe that the reason you should aim to empower your child to bear responsibility is because that is exactly what Jesus has done with us.

Think about it… When Jesus gathered his followers on a hill as he prepared to ascend to heaven after his resurrection, he commanded them to “Go, and make disciples.” In other words, He was giving them the responsibility to continue the mission He had began. And he empowered them through His presence, which was found through the Holy Spirit.

This means that if God the Son, who could have done everything Himself perfectly, chose to empower His followers to continue His mission, you can do likewise and empower your child(ren) to take on responsibility. And as your kids learn the value of work, they will be building character, learning life does not revolve around them, and part of their purpose in life is to serve others.

So give your kids appropriate responsibilities, empowering them to thrive and become the people God plans for them to be.

Casting Vision in Parenting

By Erin Bird

If you are a parent, you are sort of like an elder to your children. You lead them, shepherd them, listen to them, and help provide for them. But there is another thing you, as a parent, need to do like an elder does for a church. You need to cast vision to your child.

I remember years ago, when my oldest daughter, Karis, was about 6-years-old and had gotten in trouble. I sent her to her room, telling her I’d be up in a few minutes to talk with her. I don’t remember exactly her indiscretion, but I remember making a conscience decision to not just correct the error, but to try something different.

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You see, I had been reading Andy Stanley’s book Visioneering where he uses the story of Nehemiah to talk about the power of casting a vision of a preferred future. So I thought to myself, “let me try it. Let me cast vision for Karis.”

I remember walking into Karis’s room, sitting on the floor next to her bed where she had plopped down in anger. I began to explain that what she did was wrong, but rather than just make her apologize and say she will do her best to not do it again, I began to verbally paint a picture of the type of person I thought she wanted to grow up to be, a person that people want to be around. Then I began to show her how her behavior from moments earlier worked against becoming that type of person I knew she wanted to be.

As I sat there, casting a vision for Karis’ life, there was a change in her countenance. Rather than sulk, remain angry, or blame me for being sent to room, she looked at me differently, a look of understanding and a look of hope. It was a powerful moment.

God Parents Us With Vision
All through the Scripture, God “parents” His people by casting vision. He famously told the Israelites, who were in exile in Babylon…

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

And Paul reminds Jesus-followers…

“…that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

When you realize God has cast a vision for you to pursue under His Sovereign hand, it encourages you and instills you with hope, that no matter how bad it gets, God is with us and will see us through it.

Likewise, when you cast vision for your kids, it will do the same for them. Let your child know you see an amazing future for them if they will surrender to God, letting Him lead them into the future He holds for them. And as you do so, it just might encourage them and give them hope.

So try it out. Cast vision for your kids and see if it makes a difference.

Being Consistent

By Erin Bird, 

Greetings once again, *|FNAME|*!

Before I jump into this week’s article, let me remind you that this Sunday (Sept 30) is Celebration Sunday! Our Riverwood Partners will be affirming our Elder Candidates (Luke Anderson, Tim Corcoran, and Ed Pavelec), as well as ratifying our new church constitution. It’s an incredibly important Sunday in the life of Riverwood, and I really want you to be part of it. So do whatever you can to be at Droste Hall down at the Fairground before 10:00 am this Sunday. (And be praying for Luke, Tim, and Ed!)

Parenting With Consistency
Last week, we began a series on Jesus-Centered Parenting by looking at the topic of Kindness. This week, I want you to consider the power of consistency in your parenting.

Being Consistant blank 350x196 - Being Consistent

If you are a parent, you make it difficult for your child(ren) to thrive in life if you are consistently inconsistent. For example, one day when they break something by dropping it on the floor, you respond very gently filling them with grace, but the next day when they do the same thing, you yell at them, filling them with shame. This confuses your kiddo tremendously, and makes them walk on egg shells around you, uneasy at how you are going to react moment to moment.

So clearly you want to be consistent. But let me add here – be consistent in the right ways.

For instance, you should not consistently hit your child when they mouth off at you. (First of all, that’s abuse. Second, you are teaching them to try to control others through physical violence.) Nor should you consistently call them demeaning names. (That’s verbal abuse, and also teaches them to manipulate others through hurtful words.)

Instead, you should seek to be consistent in grace & truth.

Consistent Grace, Consistent Truth
Jesus was described as being full of grace and truth. And if we are to be like Jesus in our parenting (and in life), we also need to seek to be full of grace and truth. And if you are full of grace and truth, you can’t help but give grace and truth. And consistently giving these two items can be extremely powerful in the life of your child. Here’s what I mean:

Consistently giving your child grace reveals you recognize your own failings and God’s tremendous grace toward you. Giving grace also lets your child learn through their mistakes, not just through a firm scolding word from you.

At the same time, truth matters. If your child lies to their teacher or to a friend, you don’t just “give them grace” as if its no big deal. You need to teach them the truth that lying is wrong and honesty really is the best policy. Help your child realize the importance of right and wrong.

Let me give you an imaginary scenario:

Your child asks to watch an episode of their favorite TV program. You tell them yes, but instruct them to turn off the TV as soon as the show is done. They happily sit down on the floor to watch their show while you head to another part of the house to get chores done.

An hour and a half later, as you move through the house, you suddenly realize you hear something that doesn’t sound like a child’s play, but rather like a TV show still playing. You head to the TV room to discover your child engrossed in their third episode. They clearly broke your rule and got lost up in the fun of binge watching their favorite show.

What do you do? First, give them grace. If you really stop to think about it, you’ve binge watched your own favorite program before. So be kind and forgiving.

However, what they did was wrong. They put their TV show above your guidelines. (If they continue that pattern in life, they will make lousy future employees, spouses, and parents.) So you might calmly talk with them about how their behavior was wrong, and decide together a plan for how to stop this in the future.

  • You could set a timer to remind them to turn off the TV.
  • You could agree together to watch no TV for the next couple of weeks.
  • You could figure out how to set the auto-timer on your smart TV to turn off at a certain time.
  • But whatever you decide to do, help them learn that right and wrong matters, and binge watching their show against your instructions is clearly wrong.

This type of consistency will help your children be emotionally healthy, which will also help them be spiritually healthy. After all, you ultimately want them to follow the One True God, who is consistently consistent. So give your kids a glimpse of their loving consistent Creator by asking the Holy Spirit to help you be consistent in your parenting.