We all had parents. Two people who did the best they could with the knowledge handed down to them. No baby comes with a handbook. I mean, what do you do if there’s diaper rash, what is diaper rash, what do I do when they cry for apparently no reason, how should I interact when they throw a fit in the middle of Wal-Mart? These are a sampling of the 1000s of questions parents have need to ask.

There are lots of stories in the Bible about parents and their kids. Any one of them could give you a picture of how to do or not to do the raising of your kids. But there is a sweet reminder in 1 Samuel 1-3 of a mom who did the right things to have a great little boy. Equally, in the same text, there is s a picture of a dad who failed at doing the things necessary to have terrific sons. In this story of God-fearing parents, we see at least three important things to do as we raise our kids to love a God who loves them.

We are called to pray for our children. Establish routines in the daily activities for prayer. Pray with your children at meal times, on their way to school, before testing, when you drop them at the Scouting event or the sporting event and when you tuck them in at night. Prayer changes things and it’s important our children see that we believe and pray to a God who is powerful but also personal.

We are called to establish expectations. Our kids need consistent rules and consequences as they grow. They never need to be guessing if today they’ll be in trouble for something they were not in trouble for yesterday. As parents, realize birth-5 years old, you are discipling your child to understand and respect your voice as the one who calls the shots in the home.

Ages 6-11, you are training your children to become experts in what you disciplined them in during their first 5 years. They become more empathetic and sympathetic during these years as well.

Ages 12-19, you are coaching your children. They are home less and less. As they get a car, start working and dating, they will be home less. So, you are on the sideline calling plays and cheering them on. There are moments when you have to take a timeout. You put your arm around them and remind them how they learned to live. Then, you let them get back in the game.

Ages 20+, you become friends. It’s a beautiful moment when your children call you friend. However, this will almost never happen if you haven’t done the hard work of the first three phases.

Lastly, we need to help our children hear and obey God. God can be heard in numerous ways including the Bible, prayer, worship, nature, and mentors in their lives. It’s important that you participate in each of these areas to show them how they hear God’s voice in every instance.

Being a parent is so rewarding but it is hard work. However, with the power of Jesus within you, you can do all things. Pour into your kids like you have limited time…because you do have limited time. Before you know, they walk across the stage and into living their own adult lives. But your hard, diligent work as a parent will pay off as your children become Christ-followers and productive citizens. Children are such a blessing and so is being a parent. Grace and Peace to you.