Mothers and fathers can be a godly influence on their children
by Gini Crawford, MSW
My daughter used to dress up with my high heels on, a hat that almost covered her face, and my long string of cheap pearls hung around her neck. In her childish fashion, she would clunk around the house saying, "I am being like Mommy!" I still remember how cute she looked.
Have you heard the song "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin? It is a hard song to get through without shedding some tears. This is because all the little boy wants to do is be with his father, so he can be like him. Yet, the father never seemed to find the time his son needed. The song lyrics tell us that the son does become like his father when he grows up - too busy with life to spend time with his father.
On the same theme but on a humorous note, here are 11 very cute answers below to questions given by elementary school age children about their mothers. In the humor of these answers, we can see and hear how children very much learn from their families.
How did God make mothers?
- "He used dirt, just like for the rest of us."
- "Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring."
- "God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts."
What ingredients are mothers made of?
- "God makes mothers out of clouds, angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean."
- "They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string. I think."
Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mom?
- "We're related."
- "God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me."
What kind of little girl was your Mom?
- "My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff."
- "I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy."
- "They say she used to be nice."
Who's the boss at your house?
- "Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goofball."
- "Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed."
- "I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad."
What's the difference between moms and dads?
- "Moms work at work and work at home, and dads just got to work at work."
- "Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them."
- "Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's."
What does your Mom do in her spare time?
- "Mothers don't do spare time."
- "To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long."
What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
- "On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery."
- "Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue."
If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
- "She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that."
- "I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me."
What did your Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
- "His last name."
- "She had to know His background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer? Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say no to drugs and yes to chores?"
Why did your Mom marry your dad?
- "My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world and my Mom eats a lot."
- "She got too old to do anything else with him."
- "My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on."
As you read these funny statements, I am pretty sure you saw how observant kids are. They are like a human sponge, picking up what is said and done around them, especially from their families. Yet, what isn't so funny is when children see and hear things that teach them sinful behaviors! Children will be trained by whom and what they are around the most!
A child's greatest influence
So what is a child's strongest influence? God's Word makes it very clear - his or her parents! The principle that parents are the most important authority figure in a child's life is clearly stated in the Ten Commandments, as well as throughout the Bible (Ephesians 6:1-4 & Colossians 3:20-21). Exodus 20:12 says,
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. NASB®
We see in scripture how God created the family to be a child's most important influence. In the loving environment of a family, the child should be nurtured, cared for, protected and trained. God even uses the concept of the family throughout His Word, to teach us about relationships - with Him and each other.
Psychology even sees this principle which is in God's Word, that parents are their children's strongest influence. However, in this fallen world the family can also be the worst influence for the child! We have all seen (maybe even experienced) a kid living with very dysfunctional parents, in a not so nice environment. I have even heard of many situations where there is terrible abuse by a father or mother or both, and the child still defends and loves them. This is because children need their parent's influence, and even when they aren't so great, unfortunately they still need them. And it's a lot less frightening to a child to think of his parents as decent then to face the truth about them.
Parenting isn't for cowards
Dr. James Dobson wrote many years ago, Parenting isn't for cowards. Dobson used this title because as a Christian psychologist he understood the awesome responsibility that comes with parenting. He knew as parents we have to make many choices, and even one bad choice can have awful consequences in our child's life. Yes being a parent, isn't for cowards!
It is scary to think how much influence we have with our kids! Isn't it? And we should be very afraid because we can affect our children in many very negative ways. What we need to do is, let this healthy fear drive us to do what God wants - in our own lives and our children's lives. If this fear doesn't compel you toward God and what he wants, then chances are you are being an ungodly example in your children's life. Some of you might think this is a harsh statement, but scripture tells us you are either letting God or your sinful nature direct your life. (There doesn't seem to be a middle ground in scripture.)
What I say is this: let the (God's) Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human (sinful) nature. For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do. Galatians 5:16-17 GNT
This means you are either influencing your kids with God's understanding, wisdom and power, or you are influencing them with your own. I don't know about you, but my reasoning can be so off-the-wall and counterproductive at times. This is because of my lack of understanding and wisdom, as well as my weariness, hormones, sin and so on. God's reasoning is always prefect. Who do you want to influence your kids? Yes, being a parent isn't for cowards; so seek God and He will lead you to be the parent He wants you to be (Matthew 7:7-11).
Being the right influence
What does God want in our lives so we can influence our kids the way God wants? He wants us (and our kids) to be in a love relationship with Him! (Jeremiah 31:3.)
Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'" Mark 12:29-30 NASB®
How do we accomplish this type of relationship with God? First and foremost: we need to believe God did something about our state of sin (Psalm 51:4) and death, which separates us from a relationship with Him. This something is Jesus Christ.
But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God ... For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 1:12-13 and John 3:16 NASB®
Next, He wants us to live in a close family-like relationship with Him. We do this like we would any close relationship: By spending time with God, listening to Him, and talking to Him. As with any strong relationship, if there is something between the two of you, you deal with it. When there is something between God and you (sin), you acknowledge (confess) it and God will forgive you.
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9 NASB®
What should you be doing to be a godly influence in your children's lives? First thing you should be doing is working on your own personal relationship with God, as I just said above! In reality how can you expect your children to be living for God if you aren't? How can you teach your kids to love and serve Him if you aren't? (Actions always speak louder than words.) To be blunt, if you are teaching your kids to do what Jesus would do and you aren't doing it yourself, you are a hypocrite (Matthew 23:27-28). Ouch!
The second thing you should be doing is, having a mindset of going to God first for His truth, understanding, and wisdom, and then seeking other godly counsel. Remember, God's truth and so on is found in the Bible. We could say God has given us the prefect manual on parenting, His Word. He has also given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to follow His book and to be the mother and father we should be (Ephesians 3:14ff) . So common sense would say you need to spend the time to get to know His Word. Then as James 1:22-25 says, allow the Holy Spirit to empower you to do it.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. NIV
Life Application: If your relationship with God is close and growing, and if you are going to Him first for counsel, then you will be the most godly and positive influence on your kids, as is humanly possible. This is because you have God the Father, the Creator of all things, who loves you beyond human reason - to empower you and mentor you. Mediate on: Psalm 32; Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:1-13; and Hebrews 12:1-11. What are some things you can be doing that will help you to grow closer to God?
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