We all want our children to turn out well. Nothing thrills us more than seeing them go through school, marry well, excel in their career, and fulfill God’s purpose on their lives. Raising children who love, respect, serve, marry well, and contribute to society is not easy.
Here are five principles Melanie and I followed for the entire 32 years we had children in our home:
1. “DEDICATE THEM”
- The concept of “dedication” on the eighth day was practiced in the Jewish culture for thousands of years. Like Hannah dedicated Samuel, we should present our children to God and His Word from the earliest days of their infancy.
- Ages 0-5 are the “wet concrete” stage. These “250 weekends” will largely determine a child’s character for life. Put them into the house of God and shape their will without breaking their spirit.
2. “COMMAND THEM”
- God said about Abraham: “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice” (Gen. 18:19). Some parents try to “reason” with children instead of “commanding” their children.
- Ages 6-10 are the “character change” stage. In this stage, a child must learn discipline through the principle of “boundaries and consequences.” They must even experience pain for their character to change.
3. “AFFIRM THEM”
- I love the fact that God the Father attended Jesus’ baptism. He said, “You are MY Son” (identity), “whom I LOVE” (validity), and “in whom I am WELL PLEASED” (affirmation).
- Ages 11-15 are the “affirmation and attention” stage. REJECTION is the biggest problem in America today. All children need affirmation (like discipline) but especially when they are entering manhood and womanhood.
4. “PROTECT THEM”
- Parents are hesitant to shepherd their children through this fourth stage. They need direction and protection. They are making potentially life-altering choices which they are too immature to grasp. You must protect them from pressures that push them toward a disastrous mistake.
- Ages 16-20 are the “adult decisions” stage. —Dave Ramsey says that at this stage you must “lead by persuasion, not position.” You are explaining the WHY of good decisions, no longer just commanding them to obey.
- Pro-actively protect your children from:
- wrong relationships and influences;
- dangerous, compromised environments;
- unaccountable whereabouts;
- moving toward an unacceptable life partner.
5. “RELEASE them”
- There is nothing worse than an insecure parent, doting over their full-grown son or daughter. Here is how you release them:
- Let them move out when they turn 18 or finish college…at 22!! Grown men in the house at 31 is not cool…
- Make them get a job, earn a wage, and pay you some rent. Do not give them spending money and refuse to wait on them hand and foot.
- Do not bail them out of a ticket, a fight, or even jail.
- Give your opinion only when it is asked for.
- Do not bring open sin and immorality into your home, particularly if you have other, younger children in the home.
- Require them to face the responsibility for their own decisions.
Children are precious beyond all value. They are you life and your legacy. They are God’s instruments to bless the world. Grow them, structure them, enjoy them, bless them, and release them to fulfill the amazing destiny God envisioned before they were even conceived!