Michelle and I recently gave a talk about marriage and family at the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) banquet. Afterwards, a dad came up to me and asked the secret to why we (so far) have been successful at raising great kids. I joked and said, “It’s all Michelle.” Reflecting on it, of course great moms are critical to developing great kids. But not every great mom results in great kids, and some great kids don’t have a great mom or maybe don’t have a mom at all.
It starts with what we mean by a “great kid”. Although parenting never ends, my major responsibility wanes sometime after my kids have kids. So with our kids at nearly 16 and 18 years old, we are far from finished. One of the first articles I wrote for this website back in 2013 addressed this question, entitled “What do you want your children to become?” (AnEternalImpact.com/children-become). In it, I discussed raising Spiritual Champions, focusing on developing Godly character over achievement, and being a servant more than a superstar. We want our kids to live transformed lives such that the infusion of God in them is obvious and irresistible to those who come into contact with them.
We’ve learned a lot in the last several years, and are by no means experts. Nor are we even close to the artificial finish line discussed above. Humbly, here are some observations:
- Focus on the development of Godly character above all else. That means that we as parents must develop and grow our spiritual lives to pour into them. Authentic faith is “caught” more than “taught”. (See my recent series on Living Our Faith). Are your words a blessing or hurtful to them? Do they notice you reading your Bible or praying? Are you “walking the walk” or just “talking the talk”?
- Put your marriage before your kids. We often get this backward and set an unhealthy example for our kids. They need the stability and real life role models a growing marriage by their parents provide (AnEternalImpact.com/rejuvenate3).
- Prioritize family time and activities. As our pastor Ben Newman says, “Quality time happens in the context of quantity time” (AnEternalImpact.com/quality-time).
- Involve them in small communities and activities where they develop positive friendships that build them up (AnEternalImpact.com/choose-close-friends-wisely).
- Appropriately challenge them. One of our daughters said that she really appreciates us encouraging them to memorize Bible passages and read character-building books. Work together to set stretch goals in several areas of their lives.
- Regularly pray for them. In the big picture, our kids are on loan from God. Our job is to learn as much as we can in order to raise them as best as we can. After this, the result is up to Him.
We hope that these principles can be of some assistance to you as you strive to raise great kids of your own.