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What’s Spiritual about Parenting?

Written by Michelle Anthony

Parenting is a commitment of epic proportions!  As parents, we spend our days accomplishing a vast list of important…and not so important things.  They are time consuming and taxing!

Consider the sheer volume of resources available to help parents in their duties.  There are books that deal with ADD, bedtime, discipline, defiance, curfew, complaining, bed-wetting, biting, finances, friends, fighting in the car (an entire book on automobile arguments!), manners, media, potty training…you name it!

Someone once said that, “In raising children, the days are long, but the years are short”.  As a young mom, I wondered, “Will I make it through this day alive and sane?” and yet now as an empty-nester, I can’t help but wonder how it all happened so fast!

Although the necessary duties fill our days, there is something spiritual about our parenting that often gets lost in the mundane.  How can parents capture a glimpse of eternity in the midst of the ordinary and not simply spend their hours, but rather invest their days?

Consider these seven strategies that can turn the routine duties of parenting into a life that has a spiritual perspective:

  1. Abandon the idea of perfect parenting
    • When you fail, ask for forgiveness. This models how your children should respond when they fail.
    • Dismiss the urge to impress everyone…including yourself!
    • Set realistic goals and communicate them to your family members.
    • Resist the “Super-Parent” lie…and ask for help!
    • Living an honest and authentic life before your child will nurture a compelling relationship with you in the future.
  2. Focus on the heart of your child…not just the behavior
    • Recognize that there is often “something more” below the surface of the misbehavior. Take the time to discover what it might be.
    • When handing out discipline make sure that natural consequences are maximized…they have the greatest long-term impact.
    • Eliminate shame and guilt to motivate your child toward a certain behavior…they ultimately destroy the soul.
  3. Determine to worry less and pray more
    • Recognize that worry is an energy zapper!
    • Set aside time each day for a few minutes of quiet reflection in God’s Word and time in prayer.
    • When a difficult situation arises, ask God for wisdom and strength before acting.
    • Write out prayers or verses and place them around your home for encouragement.
    • Pray with and for your child.
  1. Talk with (not at) your child everyday
    • Look at your child in the eyes when speaking.
    • Listen with generosity to the things that are important to your child.
    • Be aware of what is not being said. Ask questions that will allow your child to share his/her heart.
    • Take time each day to focus on your child, uninterrupted by media or technology. This communicates their value to you.
  2. Be involved with like-minded parents
    • Get involved in a local church (most have parent groups and programs).
    • Meet neighbors with your same values to create play groups or outings.
    • Take time for yourself to have “adult conversations”…guilt free!
  3. Give your child a strong sense of identity
    • Speak positive words to your child while identifying them (for example: “He is a good listener” rather than “He is shy” or “She is creative and expressive” rather than “She’s not really into sports”).
    • Tell your child stories of your family’s history and heritage.
    • Share your faith journey with your child.
    • Offer words of “blessing” to your child at meals and before dropping him/her off at sporting events or school.
  4. Create opportunities for your child to serve others
    • Allow your child to be exposed to the needs in your community.
    • Help your child to determine his/her gifts and how he/she might put those into action for the sake of someone else.
    • Give opportunities for your child to set aside money or belongings for those in need.
    • Make a meal for a new mom or an elderly person and deliver it together.

Start today, putting these things into practice! At the end of the day, you may still feel exhausted as you drop into bed, but you will know that you have invested in what really matters most…approaching your child with a spiritual mindset that honors God and builds His kingdom!

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