Now I'm no expert in these matters, just a father who went through the same issues that all parents must face, but I do now that today it is more important than ever to get them on the right course, based upon my own mistakes and things I learned along the way. The moral way is so critical because today we see so many children coming along with too much influence from peers and even an educational system which too often takes the approach that there is no right and wrong, if it feels good do it. So, let me suggest that it's important to make some time for both group and one on one time with our children to guide them toward a life that is productive, moral and sound. Here are just a few of the things that I would suggest as a man of faith but, of course, take them with a grain of salt. I'm just another sinner with my share of errors, but I do try to follow God's rules despite my frailty, just like all of us. . I won't put them in any order except for number one, which I think is the primary one with the others naturally following along. Then after I make the short list, I'll make a few suggestions for how to follow up.
1. Put God and a moral code based upon faith first in all that we do. Believing in God is so important to create moral standards to live by, for if we don't teach them they will no longer get them in today's world. Take them to church and Sunday school and encourage them to do so always. In my case, the best way for me to get the kids to go to church was to become a Sunday school and even now, with them grown and having families of their own, I still teach since it's also good for me as well. When the children experience the church environment, they will get the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount and stories of how God worked to instill his Spirit in his special emissaries (Disciples, teachers, then Apostles and converted souls) to spread the word. As we get older, it's amazing how all the things from our youth in Sunday school and fellowship come back to us and it will for our children as well if they get the foundation, even if they do stray from time to time.
2. Have family time everyday. Dinner is a wonderful way to do that, renew the daily fellowship and show interest in what their day has been like. Share stories of the day, stay on top of school work and results and use the time to identify who needs help with what things. And please, please, keep the smart phone access off for the dinner hour. That means that parents need to follow the same rules as well. If we're waiting for the big insurance sale or real estate closing to come through, it can wait the few minutes we spend with the whole family unit over dinner. That's why the phones have voice mail.
3. Regularly have a family fun event. It can be a trip, fishing, sports, almost anything where children and adults can spend some quality time together. I know it gets tougher as they get older, but even then it's important to keep the family unit strong and remember that as parents, it's your responsibility. Sometimes letting an older child bring a friend will make it easier to get agreement and who knows, maybe the experience of a family that can have fun together might rub off on the additional child. After all, aren't we supposed to be God's missionaries by the little things we do? Miracles do happen. But remember, follow through on your plans. Nothing turns a child off quicker than a parent who can't keep their plans with them. We've got to put them first.
4. Follow up regularly on school work, both to see how they are learning as well as what they are learning and if we see something truly objectionable to our our moral code, don't fluff it off. Usually, if we call around we can find other parents who object and that makes it even better. Yes, we have to make sure the children do the work but we also need to make sure the school does what it is supposed to do to teach, not indoctrinate.
5. Make sure we tell them every day, even when the mistake. It may seem corny and we may think some of them are too old for that as teenagers, but they really want us to let them know we care about them. Try it, the results will speak for themselves.
6. Put the ideas in writing and let each child look at them, ask questions, deal with the questions and then give each child a copy. It sets out what we expect of them and the way we will deal with it. Then be consistent and fair and despite early misgivings they'll come around although it will be in how they act and not what they say about it. Remember, they are young people and don't expect too much maturity too fast. Use your list as a baseline for regular follow-ups. Children naturally don't like written rules and plans but remember, they do like it when you pay attention and care. They and we can get used to putting it in writing like a contract to signify commitment.
I'll leave it at that since there are many more things that can be considered. I'm just trying to make the point that in today's world, if we don't get involved in the things our kids do and appropriately oversee their actions, who they associate with and their behavior, we might wake up and be sadly surprised by what we find out later when it is too late. And maybe, just maybe, Hump Day would be a good time for us to look back over the last week and see what has transpired. If things are going well, give everyone a kudo out loud. If the results aren't worthy of a kudo, then we know we both have work to do, but the point is that they will know that we are serious and it is important and we will know that this is something you have to do. Commitment is important with children, just like commitments at work are important to our business life. And listen for what God tells us when we pray for how to go about these things. After all, He is the answer man.
And if we find such suggestions as being outlandish or not our style, that's okay, but come up with something else to make sure we don't forget our responsibility for leading and molding our children into a morally sound man or woman. We've got to put them first. After all, there is no responsibility we have as adults than to get those precious children ready for the world out there. It is a job in itself and we took on the duty when they came into our lives. Have a blessed day.