So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.
At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
For the last week and a half I’ve been in Asia teaching an intensive course on marriage, family, and parenting. It was a very long trip (40 plus hours alone on the way back!) but so worth it.
Every day while I was there this gracious woman (pictured here with her kids)…
…made me rice and dal, a delicious thick porridge made of lentils. Along with it came fresh fruits and veggies and at least two different kinds of meat, ranging from the-most-amazing-smoked-pork-ever to pig intestines. Yep, I had to think twice before I took a bite. Honestly, aside from the texture it was pretty good.
Though delicious, the food was very different from the Memorial Day barbecue I would have gotten here at home.
The weather was different than what I’m used to (very hot!)
The language was different (a blend of the national language and a local dialect)
As I talked with both men and women, I realized once again that when it comes to parenting our kids, we have so much in common.
Parenting around the world is the same is so many ways.
We want the same things for our kids–to study hard and do well in school, to have friendships that last, to love God and follow in his ways.
We have the same concerns for our kids–the impact of social media, when kids are more glued to their phones than to their Bibles, what to do with hints of disobedience and underlying currents of disrespect.
I think God knew this, so the parenting principles in God’s Word cut across all cultures.
Whether you’re talking about homework, social media, sibling rivalry or whatever, here are general parenting principles that apply not only in the United States but in China, India, Brazil, and around the world. They’re super simple but really work.
#1 Have clear expectations
God tells us exactly what he expects of us. No one is going to get to heaven and be able to say, “Well, I didn’t know about that.” Nope, it’s all spelled out. We owe our kids the same courtesy.
God not only makes clear what he expects but where we stand. There’s no need to wonder with God. He says, If you confess, you’re forgiven (1 John 1:9). If you receive him, he gives you the right to become a child of God (John 1:12). There’s certainty in that. When we make our expectations clear to our kids, they know where they stand.
What are your expectations for your child e.g. homework, friends, going to church, values? Have you made them really clear?
#2 Be consistent
God doesn’t just tell us what he expects, he follows through and consistently enforces those expectations. We can do the same. If we tell our kids bedtime is 8 pm and then don’t follow through, well, they won’t take the 8 pm bedtime seriously anymore. If we say 10 minutes of Playstation time and then 10 minutes turns into 20, well, they know that what mom or dad says is a suggestion not really an expectation.
Inconsistency communicates a double standard. The less we enforce and more inconsistent we are, the more our kids realize, “She doesn’t mean what she says.” As a result, they’ll slowly become less likely to meet the expectations we’ve given them.
Are you consistently enforcing your expectations—regardless of how tired you are, how tired they are, or whether you or they’ve had a bad day?
#3 Pair everything with extra encouragement and loving discipline
I love this verse in The Message: Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master (Ephesians 6:4).
Parenting doesn’t mean controlling, or managing, behavior but coaching kids in the way of the Master.
Part of that means encouragement: “I knew you could do it,” “You make me so proud,” “You are a gift!”. But it has to be paired with discipline. God loves us, so he disciplines us. If you love your child, you’ll discipline them. In fact, based on Hebrews 12:6-8, if you don’t discipline your child, it’s a sign you don’t really love them.
Let your kids do what they want, when they want it, and be wishy-washy on enforcing your expectations and you’re actively teaching them to go their own way.
Do you follow-up your child’s behavior with discipline that communicates “I’m mean business” and encouragement that says “I believe in you?”