I’ve said it before: being a dad to my five children is one of my highest honors. And being a dad is my most important job.
Over the 27 years of my job as a dad, I’ve learned some very important truths that have helped me on the journey. Here are 8 of those truths that every parent must know. I hope they will be helpful for you.
1. Parenting requires loving your child for who they are, not for what they do.
Your child’s value lies in who they are, not in what they do. Your child is a masterpiece, a child created in the image of God. Created by God and for God. There were no flaws in their design and no errors in their construction. Your child is a masterpiece—hand-made and custom-designed by God.
Your child needs to know that there is absolutely nothing that they can do or say that will ever take away your love for them. Now, if they do share something with you at some point that is shocking or disturbing, remember your commitment to love them through it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express sadness or disappointment over it or discipline them; it just means that you shouldn’t go ballistic with shouting or mean or angry words, or withhold your affections from them.
2. Parenting requires patience.
Anyone who has been a parent for one day, or many years, knows this. I do too. But patience has always been a challenge for me. That’s why, after all these years, I’m continuing to learn how to practice patience.
3. Parenting is “heart work.”
It’s not just about outward obedience, it’s about the inward attitude of your child. In my How to Discipline your Child podcast, I share how you can start molding your child’s heart through effective discipline.
4. Parenting is always doing what’s best for your child.
My children all know, without a doubt, that I will always do what’s in their best interests. Because they know that, they never have to question or wonder why I am doing or saying something. They have an assurance that they have a parent who will not only take a bullet for them, but will die for them.
5. Parenting requires always speaking the truth to your child and into your child’s life.
Not only do my children know that I will do what’s in their best interests, but also that I will always speak the truth to them. They also know that I will speak truth into their lives as well. In 6 Ways to Have a Positive Influence on Your Child, I shared the importance of training in truth. Sowing seeds of truth is critical to your child’s future. They will have to sort through millions of conflicting truth claims in their lifetime. And they need you, now, to plant in them the absolute truths. They also need to hear the why behind the what of your convictions. The fruit of God’s truth in their minds and hearts will help them reject the lies of the world that will swirl around them.
6. Parenting is about failing, forgiving, and asking for forgiveness.
In one of my blogs, How to Ask for Forgiveness, I share how apologizing is never a fun task, but it is one that strengthens a relationship. It takes humility to admit to another person, especially your child, that you were wrong and to ask them to forgive you. We all make mistakes and say things we wish we could take back or do things we wish we could undo. Whenever that happens with our children, we need to immediately seek forgiveness from them.
7. Parenting requires prayer.
God created and sustains my children. He is the One who ultimately controls their lives. And so, I pray for my children every day. I give thanks to God for these precious gifts. I make requests to God on their behalf—to provide for their needs and give them the desires of their hearts. I listen to God so that I will know how to train them and guide them. I ask God for His blessing and favor upon them.
8. Parenting is putting your relationship with God, and then your spouse, ahead of your relationship with your child.
The only way to love your child well is to love God well. The book of 1 John, chapter 4 tells us: “God is love” and “Love comes from God.” He is the source of love and we must love Him for that love to flow through us and into our children’s lives.
SOUND OFF: Are any of these truths more difficult for you than others? Are you willing to work on that area to become a better parent for your child?
Written by David Merrill