Encourage Spiritual Growth “Ten Things Parents Should Know”

In our modern world we find ourselves surrounded by a plethora of resources including the internet, books, conferences, counselors, and countless “professionals;” all giving advice on the best techniques, the greatest tools, and the most up to date methods to use to be a good parent.  How many times have you looked to these resources for the best solutions, techniques, and tools for raising your child?  How often do you look to these resources without consulting the best parenting guide available?  How many times do you read page after page, chapter after chapter of how to be a successful parent without picking up the most valuable resource ever written?  

There are many good resources available, and yes, we can learn from their information.  However, too many times we refer to everything else first instead of reading God’s word for direction and guidance on parenting.   Parenting is hard work, but if we consult God’s Word first, then He will guide us in being the best parents possible.  Below are ten P’s I would like to share with parents as they embark on this incredible, exciting, rewarding, and challenging journey with God’s blessings…your children.

1.   Partake in the Truth of God’s Word.  Those who partake in the Word and learn from the Lord will be directed by His desires and their children will be molded according to His plans.  Here is what He says to parents…..Listen, Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You must love the Lord your God with  your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength. These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up. You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm and fasten them as symbols on your forehead. Inscribe them on the door-frames of your houses and gates.   (Deuteronomy 6:6-10)

2.   Produce moral character in your child at a young age.  According to C. Hope Flinchbaugh in her book, Spiritually Parenting Your Preschooler, she writes that seventy five percent of a child’s character is developed by the time he or she is five years old.  Building a strong moral foundation is important and should be introduced to a child at a very young age.  Children are like sponges and will learn right from wrong as they develop and grow.  Allow them to learn what it means to be like Jesus and model His character with love and support.

3.   Provide an attitude of trust with your child.  Trust in the home is necessary and is embraced by a child at a young age.  Young children develop and grow at a rapid rate and need to learn to trust those within their family unit.  According to Ms. Flinchbaugh, trust is the first stage of emotional development in a child.  Within the family unit each member is in relationship with the others.  The way a child is held, fed, interacted with, prayed with, and nurtured effects the way a child will later think about themselves, either positive or negative.  Developing a strong bond of trust with a child will affect the way they trust others as they mature.  When a child feels secure and accepted within their family, they are more inclined to gain trust and accept those spiritual truths that are taught to them by their parents.  Being affectionate with your baby will build basic trust and will strengthen their spirit and later enhance their ability to accept those things that are spiritual.  

4.   Plan activities with your child that will encourage spiritual development.  The developmental process is expanding rapidly in children at a young age.  Babies are born with an empty slate…so fill their minds with images of Jesus.  Sing songs, read Bible stories, play with your child, and talk about Jesus daily.  As you fill their impressionable imaginations with images of God they will view Him as important and will readily accept how important He is to you.

5.   Pray with your child at a young age.  Impart in them the importance of prayer and the need to interact with God.  Children learn to pray by example. Therefore, take time to pray with them daily and pray about everything at anytime and anywhere.  When a child has a bump, scrape, or “ouchie,” take time to pray with them immediately, allowing them to experience the importance and need for prayer.  Prayer is a spiritual discipline that a child will embrace early if they experience and participate in it often within the home. Children will accept prayer as a regular activity and share in the experience, thus they will develop a relationship of intimacy with God.

6.   Promote a love for God’s Word to your child at a young age. Demonstrating a love for God’s Word with your child will encourage them to embrace it for themselves.  A child who experiences his or her parents reading their Bible will view it as important and therefore, important enough to try it themselves.  Share in devotions daily and provide age appropriate opportunities for children to observe the Scriptures and the truths about God.  As they mature, they will see the importance of God’s Word for direction and guidance in their own life. 

7.   Practice and offer godly images to a child at a young age.  Children are curious and will often embrace the things of the world, so be alert and ready to always promote and offer knowledge in the things of God.  Throughout each day guide your child and talk to them about who God is, His provisions, His plans, and His unconditional love.  Make the most out of every opportunity and use your time wisely to teach them the truth, godly principles, and what the Bible says about right and wrong; that is those things that God desires for them to know.    

8.   Present opportunities for your child to learn tasks at home at a young age.  Age appropriate chores and tasks at home should be encouraged with children.  According to Finchbaugh, “Good training in simple chores or tasks at home will enhance the child’s ability to complete work while sitting at a desk, have a longer attention span, and excel in classroom jobs at school.”  Therefore, take time to embrace the sensitive learning period and thus allow your child to participate in those household chores that will allow them to feel a sense of satisfaction.  When they have accomplished a task, they most likely will feel more independent and will often accept more responsibility in the future.  Children will learn how to be responsible and productive individuals as they mature when they embrace tasks at home.    

9.   Perform different ways to worship God with your child at a young age.   Children need to know that they can worship God anytime, anywhere, and not just at church. Encourage them to worship God daily with others at home, in the car, on a walk, in the backyard, or during play time.  Teach them that to worship God is a rewarding experience.  Plan different activities daily, weekly, and monthly to share with your child as you worship God with them.  Several ways to encourage worship might be to have a praise parade at home using homemade instruments.  Parade through the house singing praises to God.  Another way mentioned in the book, Spiritually Parenting Your Preschooler, is to plan a pajama praise party at night.  Creating a praise environment that is fun will encourage kids to partake in the experience with smiles and enjoyment.  

10. Plant seeds of wisdom in a child at a young age.  True wisdom comes only from God.  Allow God to be your source of wisdom and do not hesitate to share His wisdom with your child.  The Holy Spirit will prompt you and guide you throughout your day when to impart wisdom to your child.   View every opportunity daily as a teachable moment designed by God to plant a seed of love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  

The key to great parenting is to stay focused on God and ask Him to lead, guide, and direct you as you accept the awesome responsibility of being a parent to the most precious gift of all…CHILDREN!

God bless you, restore you, guide you, empower you, equip you, and love you through the years of life!!!  Once a parent, always a parent!  

C. Hope Flinchbaugh.  Spiritual Parenting Your Preschooler.  Lake Mary, FL:  Charisma House, 2003. 

Lisa Goodyear holds a Master of Arts degree in Christian Education, with a focus in Children's Ministry, from Dallas Theological Seminary. She has over twenty-eight years of local children's ministry, as well as an extensive background in early childhood education and international ministry to children. Currently, she is serving with the family/children’s ministry in her local church in Shawnee, Kansas. Lisa's passion is to see children from every nation, tongue, and tribe trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and grow in their relationship with Him. She is married to Rolla and they have two grown children and three grandchildren and a little Yorkie, Romeo. Lisa lives in Olathe, Kansas.