How many things do you wish you would have learned before you were an adult, things you have had to figure out on the fly: How to balance a checkbook? How to maintain your car? How to study your bible? How to have good friendships?
What kind of embarrassing fiascoes could you have avoided if you had known how to better handle yourself in a job interview, how to cook a tender turkey for Thanksgiving, or how to keep from drowning in credit card debt?
Effectively navigating through life means knowing how to solve problems–how to size up a difficult situation, wisely resolve it, and turn things around for good. But without guided preparation and a baseline of skills, you’re consistently starting from scratch. Flying blind. Making things up as you go along.
That is where a loving dad and mom come in. Love sees parenting as a workshop. A classroom for success. A boot camp for life’s battles. A place where children are continually being trained for life, one little side-by-side adventrue at a time. It is everything from trying shoes and riding a bike to parallel parking and ironing a dress shirt.
Love says, “Come here, let me show you something.” “Watch what happens when you do this.” “Don’t make the foolish mistake of…”
Yes, you could easily solve your daily problems by yourself. It is usually quicker that way. But by inviting a younger audience, and taking a little time to show them how–even to put a task temporarily into their hands–you can build both your relationship and their skill set at the same time.
You can teach your children almost any skill you know how to do if you will just let them watch you, then let them help you, and then let them try it under your supervision.
But it’s more than just developing do-it-yourself dexterity and home economics. Love means building up their minds and their relational IQs as well. Melding moral fiber into their core. Developing their worldview with wisdom.
Do your children know what you admire the most about people you respect? Or what you have learned from your greatest mistakes? Try following up a movie night by asking questions about the lead roles and the messages subtly portrayed on-screen. Help your kids discern what belief systems were promoted, what the characters did right and wrong, and what behaviors should be mirrored or avoided in real life.
Ask them, “What’s better in the long run…” or “What would you do i f…” to launch lively dinnertime discussions that get everybody thinking.
But there’s more. By making your home a learning lab, you also demystify their spiritual training. You make it a natural part of everyday life. When you’re able to weave God-honoring concepts into everything from showing hospitality to guests, to sharing vegetables from your garden with neighbors, you communicate that life with God is not a separate category that only happens for a few hours at church. Honoring Him is a daily journey. It can happen on Tuesday at midnight while working on a second-grade art project. Or during pick-up football games in the front yard.
Love simply has a teacher’s heart. It knows that “wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11). Love is able to serve the carrots and healthy greens of life in a way your kids will receive. And that means long-term nourishment years down the road.
This is what Jesus did with His disciples. He leveraged the moment, saying things like, “Look at the birds of the air…your heavenly Father feeds them…Are you not worth much more than they?…Do not worry then” (Matthew 6:26-31).
That’s why the Bible says to instruct your kids “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). It is deliberate, but also opportunistic. Teachable moments are always waiting around the next corner.
Do you want your children to be set up for success? To minimize their debt and manage their time? To develop a work ethic that gets things done and doesn’t quit once the job is no longer fun? To succeed in marriage and family? Do you want them to know the things you already know, to avoid the mistakes you have already made, as well as things you can learn together as you remain curious and teachable yourself? Then you must start being intentional now, redeeming the opportunities you have before you.
Don’t save all the deep talks for after they are in bed or after they have graduated from college. Don’t plan all your budgets or calndars without showing them how you are doing it. Don’t tithe without sharing how they too can honor God with their income (Proverbs 3:9-10). Something that might take you twice as long to do today could save them from twice the problems tomorrow.
Life has enough traps and valleys as it is. But by letting your love draw out the road maps and point out the bridges today, you prepare your children to thank God for you later when they stand and celebrate on the mountain peaks you taught them how to climb. What could love find to teach today?
Make two separate lists of things you want to teach your kids: 1) Life skills and 2) Life lessons. Keep them in a notebook nearby. Look for an opportunity to involve one or more of your children in a work project or some other teaching moment. Make it a habit.
The Love Dare for Parents – Kendrick
Turning Wounds Into Wisdom,
You Him and Her
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