Four Things Kids Need From Parents and Mentors
God loves us as a Father, and models for us good parenting. I know that not everyone reading this is a parent, but everyone has a child or younger person in their life, so I think it’s important that we look to the Word of God for wisdom about these relationships.
The Bible teaches us about parenting through specific direction. But also throughout the Bible, we see God as a loving Father. He calls us his children, and we see his character and behavior toward us, and through that example we can learn how to be good parents and role models for others.
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:20-21
The line, “children, obey your parents…” comes from the Ten Commandments. It holds a promise, that if you obey, there is a blessing – you will have a long life and enjoy what God has given you.
Godly parents don’t boss their kids around or take advantage of their authority. They care for and love their children. We all want our children to be empowered, compassionate people, to have good convictions, and to go out into the world and make a difference.
My husband and I are a new social category. We’re a blended family, which has its own challenges as we parent and mentor. In fact, we have so many variations on this blend that we call ourselves the “Smoothie Family”.
After years of hard work, love, compassion and effort, our family is beautiful. But it is not perfect, and it is complicated and difficult. Love is hard, family is hard, and parenting is hard. We make mistakes and we sometimes fail. But we stay faithful to God’s example, and he makes all things beautiful in his time.
This is not a complete list, but here are a few things I’ve learned that all kids and young people need from the caring parents and mentors in their lives. Here’s the first one:
My mom raised seven kids by herself. My dad left when I was very young. For a little period of time, my mom had a car, and it was so fun. We would go on these car rides, and I would sit behind her hugging her, obviously without a seatbelt, with the window open. I still can feel the fresh air on my face and me holding on to my mom. I felt safe, loved and carefree. That is a great memory, and all that it took was a little sense of adventure from my mom and the love that she shared with me.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
The second thing is consistent presence.
God models presence to us. He came in the person of Jesus, present with us. ”So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14
God gives us himself, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He gives us unending love. Children need your loving presence, just as we need to know that God is near us. They learn so much from you by you just being present. Quantity time, consistent time makes a difference in a child’s life. Are you too busy? Are you distracted when you’re around your children? Check yourself as you go. That’s something I’m going to do myself.
The third thing we can give our children is ourselves and others as role models.
Look at what God came to do. He’s saying to us his very character is one of a role model. Look what it says in Psalm 33: “For the word of the Lord is right and true he is faithful in all he does.”
I just read an article that said infants collect cues from every adult in the room. In fact, they have found this study that if you talk about the child in the third person they have seen some of the negative effects on these children! They are listening!
We aren’t perfect, but admitting that and learning from it creates character. As role models, we don’t have to be perfect, and we don’t need to interview hundreds of people looking for perfect role models for our kids. We need to be willing to admit when we’re wrong, love even when we’re tired and talk honestly with our kids about the lessons we’ve learned and mistakes we’ve made. Who doesn’t want to be loved and mentored with that kind of honesty and humility?
The fourth and final thing kids need is a safe, peaceful home.
A peaceful home is one in which we can be ourselves without drama or constant fighting. Peace does not mean perfection, but it does mean safety and love. By contrast, a chaotic home is where there’s a lot of drama and lack of self-control and an uneasy, unsafe feeling in the home.
Jesus came to bring peace, not chaos. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him and through [Jesus] to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:19-20
God models peacemaking, and peacemaking can be sacrificial. Sometimes to bring peace to our home we have to sacrifice certain things. We have to sacrifice letting our emotions wild or perhaps allowing ourselves to give in to a grown-up tantrum. It is hard to practice peace, but Jesus promises to help us be peacemakers.
Whether you’re a grandparent, an uncle, an aunt, a mentor, a teacher or a friend, try to start with just one of these principles this week.
For me, it’s going to be presence, because all too often I am not intentional enough with my presence toward my children and grandchildren. This week, I will put down the phone, look up from my projects and be with them, fully engaged.
I know this is such a challenge. But remember, God loves us so much, and treats us as his children. Because of this love, he teaches us how to be parents and mentors, and brings us peace and wisdom in these important relationships.
Which one of these four things can you do this week? Write it down and resolve to start today, asking God for his help.