What’s the best parenting advice you’ve received or given?
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! We want to compile feedback from our readers to share in the November issue. 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.
What’s the best parenting advice you received?
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.
What parenting advice do you give?
I have two pieces of advice.
First, I encourage young parents to cultivate a spirit of empathy and service in their children. Start early by finding a cause that your family is passionate about and volunteer for that cause regularly. Help kids to understand the motivation behind serving others (1 John 4:19) and the joy it brings to all involved. Send a clear message that serving others doesn’t need to come with compensation or reward—we do it out of love for those around us and for the God who created us. In serving, we also come to appreciate all the blessings that God has showered upon us!
Then, I encourage parents to teach children the value of work and how to work, starting at a very young age. As soon as they are able, give children age-appropriate chores, then add responsibility as they get older. Teach them that all members of a family need to contribute to keep a household running smoothly. Once they are old enough, encourage them to secure a job outside the home to help them learn the value of work and responsibility with finances. After all, one of our main jobs as parents is to raise our children to be productive members of society!
Ann Jahns and her husband, Thad, have three 20-something sons.
My favorite advice: “Say yes first.”
My toddler wants ice cream right before dinner? “Yes! That sounds yummy. Let’s eat supper as fast as we can so we can have ice cream!”
My over-stretched middle schooler wants to take on a paper route? “Yes! That sounds great. What are some factors to think through before you sign on? Can you foresee anything you wouldn’t like about it? And you do know I won’t be getting up to help you, right?”
My high schooler is thinking about studying art or music at a pricey college? “Yes! How could we make it work? And what will you do with your art or music degree?”
When we say yes first to our kids, we’re shifting the responsibility to them. They have to weigh the ramifications. And if they choose unwisely, they have to live with the consequences. That’s what growing up is all about.
And the best benefit? Saying yes means they’ll keep coming to us with all their schemes and dreams. They know we’re not the dream crusher. We’re the cheerleader! We’re excited to watch them decide how they’re going to take a big bite out of life and make a mark on the world.
Laurie Gauger-Hested and her husband, Michael, have a blended family that includes her adult daughter and son and his teenage son.
Author: Multiple Authors
Volume 106, Number 8
Issue: August 2019
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