Raising Children With and For God
I am a first generation American Christian ESTJ dad who is very rule bound married to a first generation Chinese Christian ENFJ. Both of us have a very strong J meaning we are a very black and white rules family. My wifes’s black and white is about responsiveness in relationship. Our 3 kids are 14-18 and one is one semester into a US college. The boy is the second child. They are ESTJ, INFP and ISFP/J. How Do we raise children for God – and with Him?
Raising Children For God As They Are His
Each child in personality and order in the family. Each has uniqure offerings and needs. God asks us to steward each children for 18 years full time and then, for the rest of their lives, be there for them. Children do not belong to us actually. God has a plan for them. He knows them better than we do. He made them the way they are and placed them in our family at this time. We are stewards who must help launch each child.
Our children are each in the faith. As I have said before, I prayed with them every night till they were 10 or so. Now we have family meetings about monthly. We have always led a small church in or near our home. Now, our church we lead is on line. My wife has always reminded all of us to pray when we cannot find something, are biking to store, have a decision to make, have a trouble or just all the time.
Raising children is a ton of very satisfying and troubling work. I would do it again in a heart beat.
Children need a ton of love. They need lots of unconditional love. They need you to see them as treasures each day. We cannot actually do it. Without God we cannot imagine.
Unconditional Love is Critical
When they were young, I would challenge them with a question several times a week. Initially, they could not get it right.
“If you were really, really, really bad, would Daddy still love you?”
I mentioned raising children when in fact raising children is also causing us to grow up. Our teenagers are forcing my wife and I to grow up a little more each week. My children will push or make me love them better regularly. Children need us to understand them to a level we usually cannot imagine and then we should not think we therefore know it all.
When children are small, they must learn obedience in a family environment with lots of love and acceptance. We must use authority with tons of grace and boundaries.
As they grow, we need to gradually give up authority and develop friendship and connection. The long-term plan is friendship and connection.
So my college student decides a lot by herself but often comes back to ask us on how to face this world and to have us pray for her. The two at home need us to care like when they go to bed and what they eat, yet not be demanding. They must have space to make their own mistakes. How else can they grow up, so they can go to college or otherwise take the next step in life?
Teenagers, Oh My
Teenagers and dating? We have not encouraged our kids to date in high school, but have been with them as they had crushes all through this time. In their international school, they have about 10 people in each grade. This Christian school does not sponsor any dances. We are open to them dating with eyes open and never in a room alone with a member of the other sex. To date do none of them have dated in high school. We think that is good but do not demand it.
LGBT? We see that God wants one man and one woman loyally together for life. However, we need to hear our growing kids and like to understand what is happening with them. They are growing up in a confusing time. We try not to be afraid of what they might say or think. First, this is n0t the main thing. We love them no matter where they are. That is the key in each step they make. Fear and judgement are not the right tools. See also Raising Kids With All We Have.
In truth, one of the greatest gifts I have given my kids is seeing them as geniuses who can conquer anything. I respect they know a lot that I do not. The Bible says each child is made in the image of God. That makes them geniuses of immense worth. They believe and act like it.
The Bible is clear that we should train children and love them, and love our spouse for them. Let’s not exasparate them. Each family will have some different style in how they do it. It is important work and pay back is, oh, so slow. God help us to hang in there and keep looking up.