Six Habits of Effective Christian Parenting
HABIT ONE: Modeling
The “Bible” that your child will read and follow, more than any parent wants to believe, is the parent’s personal life! Never expect your child to grow in Christian knowledge and faith and love beyond what you model. When asking, “What foundation do I want to give my child for the Christian life? What do I want their Christian life and faith to look like after they leave my house?” The answer is simple: What you have modeled is what they will leave home with. HABIT NUMBER ONE: MODEL THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. What is the Christian life? Following Jesus! Growing as a Person of the Word, a Person of Prayer, and a Person who Cares and Shares. Examples: Regularly go to Sunday worship and the adult education hour, let your children see you reading the Bible at home, pray with your children throughout the day; give to those less fortunate, sacrifice for others; tell others about Jesus!
HABIT TWO: First Things First
This habit puts those things that are MOST IMPORTANT as FIRST PRIORITY in the regular activity of your family’s life. There are so many things that pull at us to fill up and use our time, energies and personal resources. This habit encompasses two sides of one coin. The first side is that we must determine WHAT is MOST IMPORTANT to us (values). And I maintain that outside of your own personal salvation and faith in Jesus, there should be nothing more important to the Christian parent, than Christian parenting. The second side of this coin is, putting those things that are MOST IMPORTANT into FIRST PRIORITY when decisions are made in how we use our time, energies and resources. Without any trouble, you can fill you and your child’s life with entertainment, exercise, education, multiple extra-curricular activities. And who isn’t aware of how fast one’s financial resources are depleted – one could always find more ways to spend more money on your family: The point is, unless you intentionally determine to put FIRST THINGS (that which you value the most) FIRST (a priority that is acted upon first), you can be sure that other less important things will fill the void quicker than you can shake a stick at it!
HABIT THREE: Worship
This habit is twofold: 1) Worship every Sunday; and 2) family devotions every day. In this habit, the parent understands the entire Christian life revolves around worship. In this habit, the parent understands what worship is and its importance for the Christian. Worship is FIRST and foremost, coming to God to receive the gifts He has to give in Word and sacrament. Worship is secondarily our responding to God’s gifts with praises, thanksgiving, confession and prayers. The parent understands that to worship is to be fed by God. To miss regular worship is to become spiritually weak. Regular worship fills the spiritual soul. This habit does not leave the question open, “Are we going to church this Sunday?” It is a habit. We do it! Period! Just as there is a time on Sunday morning to arrive for worship, so a time and place is set for daily family devotion. This time is used to hear God’s Word and to respond in prayer. There are many devotional helps!
HABIT FOUR: Passing On the Faith
This habit flows from understanding that the Christian parent has the primary responsibility to pass on the Christian faith to their children. They want their children’s faith in Jesus to grow strong since Jesus, His shed blood, His victorious resurrection are our only hope for life with God now and for eternity! Regular times are set aside to teach your child the messages of the Bible, the Catechism, Bible memorization, prayers and hymns. A part of this education is understanding that what goes in, is often what comes out. So not only do we want to work at placing into our children’s minds the light of God’s Word, but we want to carefully guard what else “goes in.” Christian parents therefore will guard what is watched on TV, what videos are watched, and what radio is listened to.
HABIT FIVE: The Family Hour of Power
This habit revolves around setting aside one hour that is sacred for your family. Just as a person religiously shows up for work on time, or for school on time, so each member of the family shows up for “Family Group Time.” This hour should be divided into three equal parts: a caring & sharing time, being in the Word, and spending time in prayer. The following outline is a simple way to begin this weekly habit.
Prayer: Ask one of the children to pray: “Dear Jesus, be with us now, bless our family time together.”
Caring & Sharing: Go around the table having each person answer three questions:
1) a fun question (like, “what’s your favorite TV show and why?”)
2) something you’re thankful to God for.
3) life update (what’s been happening this past week?)
The Word: Either use a printed Bible Study or go through the a portion of the Bible asking
questions as you go along. It’s also great to go question by question through
Luther’s Small Catechism.
Prayer: Begin by going around the table having each person pray, “Thank you Jesus
for ___________.” As you become comfortable with praying together, you can extend this prayer time in many ways. You could even have a family prayer journal and keep track of all the times God answers your prayers!
HABIT SIX: Christian Music
Fill your child’s ears with Christian hymns and songs. Encourage Christian music to be playing regularly in your home, in your car, and on you and your children’s music devices. Not only will this provide a great way for your child to learn Scripture (many children’s songs are direct quotes from Scripture), but this will lay a marvelous foundation of times of worship. The more your child is familiar with music during worship time, the better chance their heart can raise heavenward in worship to God for all that He has done for us in Christ.