Years before I became a mother, I wrote a news article for Forward in Christ in which I interviewed a dad who described his nightly ritual of blessing his young daughter before she went to sleep. He noted, “Blessing your child is not hocus pocus. When I bless Kayla, I am asking the Lord to keep my daughter in the faith forever. It’s another tool that I can use to demonstrate my love for Christ and for my child, based on the love that Christ showed for me.”
That idea resonated with me, and after my daughter was born, I began blessing her each night. I’ve continued the ritual with my sons as well.
Do you have a piece of parenting advice that has stuck with you through the years? If so, please share it with us! Send your advice to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And that dad I interviewed? When I started compiling authors for this column, I knew I wanted him to be a part of it. So, you can find his advice below. He’s contributing author Dan Nommensen.
Nicole Balza is staff editor of Heart to heart: Parent conversations, Forward in Christ magazine’s monthly parenting column. She and her husband, Rob, have three children ranging in age from 5 to 13.
There have been a number of people in life who have either demonstrated or shared this important piece of parenting advice that I have kept on my heart. In our confessional Lutheran understanding of Scripture, we treasure a right understanding of the importance of God’s law and gospel. Yet I must admit that my tendency is to lean on the law side of my parenting approach. The encouragement that I have received, and try to pass on to others, is not to neglect the importance of the gospel. The pure understanding that I am forgiven, a saint, a new creation through the work of Christ is what sets my heart looking for ways to demonstrate my love for God—not because I have to, should, or must, but because I can’t help but look for opportunities to be thankful. This is our treasure! Don’t leave it to a chance understanding for your kids.
Live in joy with your children and be intentional in sharing the gospel with them so they too can be motivated by Christ’s love.
Dan Nommensen and his wife, Kelly, have a teenage daughter and son.
Sam and I have given this some real thought. Independent of each other, we both wrote down the same parenting advice my father gave us early in our parenting journey:
“Don’t sweat the small stuff, and pretty much everything is small stuff.”
Such a seemingly simple saying and yet so full of wisdom!
Mary Clemons and her husband, Sam, have three children and seven grandchildren.
Here’s mine. I got it from a priest named Zechariah (Luke 1).
Take your child in your arms every night and speak into their heart the truth.
Don’t be afraid to tell them what this world is really like. It’s dark and deadly outside, Zechariah said (cf. Luke 1:79). Then show them God’s Son who has come to dispel the darkness. His love arises for us like the sun each day, bright and warm. Say something like, “Tomorrow, my child, you will awaken to a bright new day in God’s love.” Let it be the lullaby of their life that wraps them up secure each night no matter what the darkness.
I’m borrowing metaphors and images from Zechariah’s great canticle and imagining the scene there where he sings by the Spirit, saying, “You, my child” (Luke 1:76). Luke marks it in Scripture as a truly Spirit-led parenting moment.
Jonathan Bourman and his wife, Melanie, have a six-year-old daughter.