Saturday, May 13, 2006

Simple Steps

Just a short blog for today; for the steps here are not difficult to understand. Carrying them out requires effort and creativity, but if you are dedicated to raising your children in the Lord, you can apply the required effort with His help.

1. Get your children to every appropriate church function. Get them to Bible class, ask them every time about their class, what they studied, who was there. Make it an event that is important enough to discuss at some length. When the children have a special program to put on, get your child involved in it. When the teens have a youth rally, get your teen there -- with their friends -- and make it worth their while by giving extra blessings to them (a stop by the ice cream shop? A run by Blockbuster? Be creative) as your thanks for their involvement in Christian things.

NOTE: I was a youth minister for one year (I was terrible at it). We had a very large youth group and I loved those kids. Now, decades later, the kids who are still faithful are those -- without exception -- whose parents made sure they got to every event and were involved in planning and execution of events. The parents who had other priorities, who let their kids roam away from church activities, find that their children are no longer in worship... and neither are their grandchildren. Tragic.

2. Say a good thing about Jesus every day. Find a way to compliment Jesus in front of your children every day, in a way they can understand the comment. It doesn't need to be big and dramatic, but it needs to be a part of your normal speech and lifestyle. Start early enough and it will become a part of their language, too.

3. Find a family mission. It could be a child you 'adopt' via one of the great agencies out there that help children in third world countries. It might be a missionary that you and your children write, prepare CARE packages, etc. for on a regular basis (allowing the kids to have input). It might be a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or a shelter for battered women. Whatever it is (and you might need to change it from time to time), it needs to be a part of your family identity. "This is who we are. This is what we do." It doesn't have to be a huge thing. For small children, letting them help make cookies and then distribute them at a nursing home is an easy way to get them caught up in the joy of doing good.

4. Remind your children that you, too, are under the command of Christ. When you have to bite your tongue, or adjust your spending, or turn off a TV show because of content, let them know that you have had to modify your behavior because of who you are in Christ. Discipline yourself or you will never be able to discipline your children.

5. As soon as they can write legibly, get them to help you pay bills. They can fill out the checks, enter the deduction in the checkbook, and do the subtractions as you go through the pile of "payment due" missives we all receive. That lets them see where the money goes and that you aren't made of money. Because we did this, our kids never asked for the hugely expensive things other kids had. They knew our money situation because they were involved in it. By the way, when you write that check to the church and to charities regardless of how poorly you are doing that month, that is an incredible lesson your kids will not soon forget.

More later. Enjoy your children. Especially the difficult ones! Remember -- they get to choose your nursing home.


At 5/14/2006 07:39:00 AM , Blogger Zoe's Mom said...

Hello, Patrick! I met you a couple of years ago at a weekend youth rally at Fort Hill Christian Youth Camp in Ohio. I am a member of the Sunshine Church of Christ and married into the Gampp family. My husband, Tim, taught Art History 101 to (I think) your sister last quarter at Shawnee State University.

Anyway, I just read your post and shared it with Tim. I kept saying "wow, I love that" as I read. Thank you so much for your insights. I agree with you entirely in what you said. It is my goal to do and be the things you mentioned. Tim and I are in the process of waiting for a referral picture of our baby girl in China. We have no other children and felt the calling to adopt a daughter from China in 2004. It's been a long process but very much worth every step of the way.

Thanks for the blog post and reading all of my "blah blah blahs"!

Jennifer Gampp

At 5/15/2006 01:00:00 PM , Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

These are simple steps, Patrick, but so many parents don't do ANY of them - even Christian parents I've known. Then they wonder why their kids didn't "turn out" like they wanted them to or thought they should.

I didn't do all of those things exactly as you've set out, but most of them. All of them, really, to some extent.

I was home with my three kids until David was in high school, Rebecca in 7th grade and Mark in 4th, and spent all my time with them doing things WITH them as I taught them many things - especially in the summers.

I taught them all to cook, plan meals, to sew, to iron, to make gifts to give to others both in the family and out. We (and they) were part of just about all church functions and I was always up at school, too, talking with their teachers and the principals. Their band directors and their friends.

The boys were both in Scouts and learned a lot there, too, about discipline and being self-reliant.

What a joy it always was for me to do those things and to watch them ever become more independent and self-sufficient, while caring about others around them, too.

They grow up so fast! Every minute of every day with a child is precious. We should spend them well.

At 5/15/2006 01:45:00 PM , Blogger CrazyJo said...

I haven't been commenting on all of them, but I wanted to let you know how much I have been appreciating your parenting advice. I have been doing some soul-searching into my own life, and the type of example I've been setting for my son. It hasn't been very pretty, but God's been doing good work in my life lately. Please keep writing!

At 5/19/2006 09:18:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Patrick. Met you in MB and Tabernacle. I wholeheartedly agree that parents must make certain their children are involved in all area activities, besides faithful attendance with the church family. But I have stopped beating myself because one of my children is no longer faithful to the Lord. We gave him every opportunity to be with Christians, and we involved in many of these activities, but he made wrong choices. We continue to pray for him as well as our daughter and all our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

At 5/19/2006 09:24:00 AM , Blogger PatrickMead said...

Anon, you are absolutely right and my heart grieves with you. My parents did all they could for us, but half of my family left the Lord anyway. They hurt and pray and grieve every day... but it wasn't their fault. We grew up. All of us made bad decisions, and some of us chose to not repent and come back.


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