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Don't put your children first

  • 2001 9 Nov
Don't put your children first
Does this sound like shocking advice? Parents need to get their priorities straight when it comes to raising their children. Children of course are a top priority for any conscientious parent. We sacrifice time, money, and energy for them. We often put our dreams on hold or give them up all together for the good of our children.

If your desire is to raise a child who is well adjusted - with the proper amount of self-esteem and humility - you need to take your primary focus off your child.

  • Keep your priorities straight. God never intended for parents to make idols of money, careers, or their children. Too many families revolve around the children and their activities. Parents who wait to have children seem to dote on the child more than other couples.

  • Make God your greatest priority. Put God first.

    • Do your children know that your relationship with God is the most important relationship in your life?

    • Let them see you in worship, prayer, and Bible study.

  • Put your spouse before your child. Long after your child moves out of the house you will still be married. This is the fundamental relationship in the family.

    • Do your children comprehend that your relationship with your spouse is the second most important thing in your life?

    • Do you and your spouse take time to be alone together on a regular basis?

    • Do you prefer being with your children to being with your spouse? If so, what are you going to do to change that desire?

    • When you and your spouse are together, do you always talk about the children or do you have other areas of discussion and interest?

    • Note: If the husband or wife is not available due to death, divorce, or separation, then the children are the second priority, but never the first.

  • Care for your children. Let them know how special they are, how much you love them, and what a delight they are to you. But make them realize that the world does not revolve around them. Show them how they fit into the family and into God's plan for all His children.

  • Don't try to be your children's best friend. Be their parent. They can find -- and should find -- friends at school. What they need from you is a strong, stable adult they can depend on and go to for advice.

  • Don't fear your children. Too many parents worry that their children won't like them so they give in to desires and demands that their children make - which may not be in their best interest. Part of parenting is learning when to say no and standing firm in your decision.

  • Dare to discipline. Teach them to obey you.

    • Are your children routinely allowed to interrupt and control conversations that you and your spouse - or another person - are trying to have?

    • Are your children trustworthy? Do they follow instructions?

    • Do your children accept rules or punishment? Do they learn from them?

From 9 Myths That Damage a Child's Confidence by Pat Holt, copyright (c) 1999. Used by permission of Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, Ill., 1-800-742-9782.

Pat Holt, a former teacher and curriculum consultant, is administrator of West Valley Christian Academy in California. She is the mother of two children, the author of Ten Myths that Damage a Woman's Confidence and co-author of Don't Give In, Give Choices; Your Kids Have a Plan, Do You?, and When You Feel Like Screaming: Help for Frustrated Mothers.