Our pastor recently used this phrase in a sermon: “Prepare your kids for the path, do not prepare the path for your kids”. I find myself saying this one quite a bit to friends and to myself. I believe it is extremely important to remember.
If we prepare our kids for the path, we will be equipping them for life. If we prepare the path for our kids, we are actually going to hurt their future and they will not be prepared for life. They will more than likely struggle and not be prepared to handle tough situations.
It is hard at times to prepare our kids for the path, but it will be so worth it. We have to remember we are given children to teach them the way God wants them to go. That is our job. Life is going to be tough and it is our duty to prepare them for that, with God’s Word.
Here are a few things to remember when trying to prepare your kids for the path:
1. Use The Bible – Reference the Bible often. Teach your kids from the Bible and use it when any problems or concerns arise. The Bible is your manual.
2. Set Boundaries – It is very important to set boundaries and stick to them. As parents we need to continually set the rules and boundaries, and follow through with any consequences when our children go beyond those boundaries or break the rules. That prepares them for adulthood. When you do not follow the rules in the workplace or in society there are some serious consequences. Our kids need to learn that early.
3. Be Consistent – This is key to helping your kids fully understand and live within the boundaries. You must be consistent with the consequences, or they will not work. If your kids know that sometimes you waiver and give in, then they will be much less likely to stay within the boundaries. I know how it is, it’s hard to be consistent sometimes. You are tired, worn out, busy, or pre-occupied and it can be difficult to maintain the consistency. However, it is a must. For the boundaries and rules to work, it is imperative to stick to the consequences.
4. Encourage Good Behavior - Keeping them in line is one key to preparing them for the path, but encouraging and praising them is equally important. Your kids need to know you love them and support their good behavior and decisions. When they are doing things right, really encourage that. Let them know how proud you are of them.
5. Encourage Their Interests – The Bible verse “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6) means to help your children develop their spiritual gifts and the skills God has given them. Encourage their interests and their strengths. Help them to discover how God made them and how they can use that for the glory of God. Do not try to guide them into doing what you think they should do, or what you want them to do. Spend time finding out what it is they are good at, love to do, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Helping them to discover this as they are growing up will encourage them to continue searching themselves and working with God to uncover His will for their lives. If we never work on these things with them, and show them the importance of understanding the person they truly are and how God made them, then they will begin their adult life lost and will more than likely let life lead them, instead of turning to God for guidance.
6. Be A Good Example – As much as we would like to think our kids listen to everything we say, the don’t. They do, however, watch everything we do. If you teach it and live it, they will be much more likely to listen and to follow your lead. If you teach it, but do not live it you will be sending a confusing message to them. Be sure to live your life as if someone is watching, because someone IS watching.
7. Spend Time With Them – I cannot stress the importance of this one. They do not need more toys or more “stuff”, they just need you. They need to know they are important to you and that you value them. Sit down and play games with them. Have a family game night. Read with them nightly. Create your own stories together. Color or paint together. Get outside and go to the park together. Throw the ball in the backyard. Dance in the living room together. Have a family movie night and let them pick the movies. Make cookies together. These ideas are all very inexpensive (if not free) and easy activities to do on a regular basis. What they do for your relationship with your kids is priceless.