Be a consistent parent. Think and pray about which values you want to communicate to your kids, and why. Some values to consider are: faith, family time, serving, relationships, honesty, respect, good manners, healthy eating, gratitude, and kindness. Then choose the top three values that you want to be foundational in your home and ask God to inspire you with ideas for how to consistently communicate those values to your children. Consistently assign your children household chores to help them become more responsible. Discipline your kids consistently, giving them clear rules, boundaries, and rewards so they know what to expect and can learn and grow well.

Be a playful parent. Make time regularly to play with your children, because doing so helps relieve tension and builds stronger bonds between you.

Be a connected parent. Get to know what each of your children is most interested in right now. Then ask God to show you how to build deeper connections with them by exploring their interests together. Aim to make your kids feel emotionally safe with you.

Be an encouraging parent. Try to take every opportunity God gives you to encourage your children. Some ways to do that include: focusing on their strengths, noticing their efforts regardless of the outcome, giving them chances to contribute, helping them take small steps toward their goals, celebrating their accomplishments, and listening to them.

Be a spiritual parent. Show your kids what it looks like to depend on Jesus every day by putting your faith in action. Read the Bible; pray; participate in a local church; and model gratitude, discernment, and trust.

Be a merciful parent. Just as you receive mercy from God when you make mistakes, give your children mercy when they make mistakes. Let them experience consequences but also mercy and forgiveness. Avoid lecturing them; instead, allow them to learn directly from their experiences.

Be a hopeful parent. Combat common, discouraging myths about parenting by reminding yourself of these truths: Every child and every family sometimes struggles; it’s more important for your children to respect you than to like you; your family has great sources of support nearby (such as your church and your children’s schools); consistently parenting with love and logic will bless your children; suffering produces good things even in kids’ lives; and God has given you everything you need to parent your children well.

Be a free parent. Despite the constant pressure you’re bound to feel as a parent, you can enjoy freedom when you stay focused on Jesus and keep entrusting your children to His care.

Adapted from Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for Planes, copyright 2013 by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tn.,  

Sissy Goff, MEd, LP-MHS, is the counseling director for children and adolescents at Daystar. The author of five books, she is a frequent radio guest and contributor to magazines. Sissy has a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and is a sought-after speaker for parenting and teacher training events.

David Thomas, LMSW, is the counseling director for men and boys at Daystar. A popular speaker and the coauthor of five books, he is a frequent guest on national television and radio, and a regular contributor to ParentLife magazine. David and his wife, Connie, have a daughter and twin sons.

Melissa Trevathan, MRE, is founder and executive director of Daystar Counseling Ministries. A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Melissa has taught graduate courses, spoken to various churches and schools across the United States, and been a guest on television and radio programs throughout the United States and Canada. She is a popular speaker for parents, teachers, and kids of all ages.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a contributing writer for many years, is author of the new novel Dream Factory, which is available in both paperback and ebook formats. Visit her website at:

Publication date: July 23, 2013