Being an effective parent begins with how you view your children. I believe that if we would influence our children we must treasure them – and they will know if we do or not.
Many children today feel like an intrusion. And, perhaps the reason is that some Dads and Moms view them as such. Do you see your children as a burden to your schedule and your ability to have fun? Perhaps you had a child when you weren’t planning one and have privately stewed over the fact for years.
Rather than being a source of blessing they have interfered with your lifestyle and there has been a resentment deep within that no one knows about. If not faced and dealt with this feeling will at some point surface in attitudes and words toward your children.
Christians are known for opposing abortion, but having a “large” family (defined differently by different people) is out of the question by many believers. I’m not talking about a mother that had a life-threatening or traumatic birth experience, but rather an attitude of not wanting to be bothered with the trouble of having and raising multiple children. (By the way, having them is easier than raising them).
Just having more than the average size family does not mean the children will be treasured either. I have seen parents with a lot of children that didn’t treat them properly or care enough to discipline them.
Years ago, Dr. Laura Schlessinger wrote a book titled, “Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids: Don’t Have Them If You Won’t Raise Them”. I agree with the sub-title totally – don’t have them if you won’t raise them! (This doesn’t mean you abort a child, but to count the cost before you get pregnant in the first place).
There is a general tendency to think small though when it comes to having kids. Perhaps you have had this experience. A couple has a little boy and now they are expecting a girl and friends say something like, “Oh, that’s great! Now you will have a complete family”. The subtle meaning is that having two children, preferable one son and one daughter, is what makes a “complete” family.
One problem with this way of thinking is that it assumes that a couple is not a family until they have children. When God married Adam and Eve in the garden they were a complete family at that very moment, without children. In fact, the marriage relationship is to have a greater priority than the parent-child relationship according to the Bible.
The other fallacy is that two children make the “perfect” family. Now, please understand, I am absolutely not on a crusade for every couple having a large family or the same amount of children. That is none of my business, but between you and God.
Here is what I do believe as a Christian about the issue. I think you ought to have as many children as your personal faith will allow. (I fully realize what I am saying is controversial, but I am willing to be misunderstood, or understood, to make this vital point about treasuring children in general). Even if you disagree, don’t miss the larger principle at hand; our children must know and feel that we treasure them.
All of that is just to preface where I am really going with this post concerning valuing our children. Here is the bottom line principle: we ought to see our children as God does. How does God see children? Please carefully read and consider the following verses from the Bible.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward”. (Psalm 127:3)
The word “heritage” means “that which is inherited” and has the idea of an heirloom. An heirloom is a family possession handed down from generation to generation that is valued highly and treasured. It is God that gives us this precious and valuable “heritage” of children. They are to be highly prized, whether you have one or ten.
The word “reward” denotes a “compensation, wages, or benefits”. Children are a blessing to a marriage, not a curse. This is the way God sees children. They are not to be seen as intrusions, but as precious and prized blessinga.
Here’s another Scripture about the value of children.
“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.” (Psalm 128:3-4)
Here children are compared to “olive plants”. Olive trees were highly valued in Israel. They were an important source of income because of the benefits of the oil from the olive berry (medicinal value, oil for their lamps and cooking to name a few). Also, a wife is called a “fruitful vine”. She produces a commodity far more precious than olive oil – her children.
The most important thing a mother will ever do is not related to her job outside, but inside her home, that of nurturing, loving, and training her children. It is an offensive thing to ask a stay-at-home mother, “Do you work?” or “Do you have a job?” When I ask a question along these lines I say, “Do you work outside your home?” It doesn’t assume there is no labor at home caring for household responsibilities.
One final Scripture on the subject I will offer (there are others). This one is fundamental to showing our children their value to us.
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers…” (Malachi 4:6)
This is a key principle: a child will turn his heart to his father (parent) only after the father turns his heart to the child. An indication of what you treasure is what occupies your heart and thoughts – “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21)
It is easy to value your children when they are young and helpless, but they still long to be treasured when they are teenagers and sometimes difficult to love. Hey, I’m in my mid-50’s and I still enjoy being treasured by my mother!
I believe if children knew how much their parents are hurt when they rebel against them they would think twice about their actions and attitudes. That which you have so highly valued and treasured over anything on earth now has a smart mouth and an ungrateful spirit.
Let me close with my original premise. Successful parenting begins with treasuring your children. This is part of a parent’s job description and at the foundation of every other responsibility we have. In fact, if this is missing, nothing else matters; the rest are just techniques to acquire a desired result.
It’s so true, people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. It’s more than a management maxim, but applicable to parenting even more so.
I’m going to take some time this week and write a personal note to each of my children and tell them how important they are to me and how much I treasure them. May I challenge you to do the same, even if your children are adults. One day we will wish we had.