Create a Family Parenting Plan
- Friday, July 18, 2003
Godly families don't just happen. They are the result of wise planning by diligent parents seeking to follow God's vision for their families. When you are proactive about directing the course of your children's development, you help them discover God's best for them.
Here are some parenting principles you can use to intentionally help your children grow into the people God wants them to become:
- Resist the temptation to program your children to become miniature versions of yourself. Instead, strive to help them become more and more like Jesus Christ.
- Hold regular family conferences. Use them to discuss and pray about each family member's concerns.
- Incorporate core attitudes into your family relationships, and use the acrostic T.R.U.E. to remember them. They are: trust, respect, understanding, and expressed love.
- Make it a habit to listen to your children on a regular basis. And while you're listening to them express their thoughts and feelings, hear them with an open heart and without judgment or criticism. Then follow up by asking them additional questions to clarify what they've shared with you.
- Extend grace to your children in all situations, remembering that God relates to you with grace. Spend one-on-one time with each of your children as often as possible, either for special outings or simply doing errands together. Strive to enjoy each other's company during these times.
- Write a family vision statement. Think and pray about specific family goals that will help you all influence others for Christ and leave a godly legacy. Also consider goals for your career, your children's education, your finances, and fun experiences you would like to share together. Commit to working together to accomplish the goals you've listed.
- Discover each other's God-given talents, and help each other use them to the fullest. Use your gifts to complement each other, rather than compete with each other. Work as a team to maximize each other's strengths and minimize each other's weaknesses.
- Give each of your children what he or she needs most during each developmental stage. In the prenatal stage, work with your spouse to fine tune your life vision. In infancy, communicate security and trust to your baby by smiling, cuddling, singing to, and having patience with your little one. During toddlerhood, be consistent and trustworthy, showing your child that you keep your promises. In the preschool stage, give your child age-appropriate tasks to do, then praise him or her for the effort. This will build a sense of competence. During early elementary school years, give your child clear direction that sets appropriate boundaries for his or her growing independence. In adolescence, help your child discover his or her gifts, then give your child opportunities to use those gifts. This will build their self-esteem and confidence. During the early teen years, make sure you know your children's friends (and their families) well. Also be sure to express your love for your child often, through both words and physical touch like hugs. In the late teen years, show your child that you respect him or her by listening, allowing your child to make some important decisions independently, and affirming his or her right decisions.
- If you're a single parent, don't try to function as both parents. Realize that it's not possible for one person to do so, and take the pressure off yourself. Solicit mentors to contribute to your child's life as healthy role models. Look for people willing to help your child academically, as a coach or teacher of a specific skill, as a career mentor, as a lifestyle mentor, and as a spiritual mentor. Consider not dating until your children leave home, so your children won't be adversely affected by relationships that don't last. And plan a regular Sabbath day into your schedule as often as possible - ideally, once each week.
Adapted from In-Laws, Outlaws, and the Functional Family, copyright © 2003 by Dr. Harry R. Jackson, Jr. Published by Regal Books (from Gospel Light), www.regalbooks.com.
Dr. Harry R. Jackson, Jr. is senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in the Washington, D.C. area. The ministry includes a Bible college and an active missions ministry involved in sending worship and teaching teams to various nations. Bishop Jackson appears weekly on a morning television and radio program called The Hope Connection, which is aired in 24 countries in Europe. Jackson and his wife Michele have two daughters.
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