I am the father of four boys. My youngest just turned 16 and my oldest is almost 21. I have spent the last two decades of my life as a parent, and I have learned a few things along the way. Here are some of the most significant rules that my wife and I decide would govern our parenting, and I thought you might find them helpful.
1. We Will Raise Our Children. Before our children were even born, we had a clear idea that when we had children, they would be ours to raise. If possible, we would never send them to a daycare, a grandparent or babysitter to be raised. Those people and groups have their place, but the primary responsibility would fall on us.
2. Church and Christian Service are Not Optional. My children were all in Church from the first Sunday of their life until the day they left for college. They did not miss for sports or school unless it was totally unavoidable which happened about ten times in their lives. Not only did they attend worship with us, but they also were required to serve in some way. They helped with set up and tear down when we lead a new Church. They have run computers and lead worship as teenagers. The people of God are a priority in my family.
3. Love is spelled T-I-M-E. Gifts, vacations, and electronics are great but true love is spelled TIME. Children of all ages want attention more than anything else. Sure they may act like they do not want you around in those teenage years, but it is just a façade. Save your money and clear your calendar if you want a deep connection with your kids.
4. Teenagers Need As Much Attention as Toddlers. Somewhere along the way, parents started believing the lie that teens do not really need their parents. You can drop them off at the mall or with their friends, and they will be happy. I have found that your impact is just as significant with teenagers as when they are younger.
5. Love Your Children, But Don’t Trust Them. We understand this concept when they are little. They are playing in the next room, and it gets quiet. You know something mischievous is happening. You ask, and they act like you are crazy about your inquiry. A few more questions and the truth comes out. Then they become teenagers, and you ask them what is happening, and you are greeted with silence. You can believe that or do some investigating. The truth is often only obtained with thoughtful questions and solid inquiring.
These are five of the biggest rules that have guided my parenting. Other factors have impacted what we do, but these are the big ones. My wife and I have not been perfect parents but in spite of that God has allowed us to have some great kids. Truthfully, they became that way through hard work, time and the grace of God.