Five Resolves Every Parent Should Make For 2019
by Kristina Matz
January 1st is a day that feels full of hope! We all get a “fresh slate” and imagine grand plans of how to make the new year better and more productive than the last. Often times, though, these desires look more like wishes than actual resolves. Merriam-Webster defines resolve as “to reach a firm decision about”. As parents, rather than just wish that we would do a better job with our children this year, let us make a firm decision about it. Following are five things that every parent should resolve to do in 2019.
1. Resolve To Pray More For Our Children
I can often find myself asking my children for more change than I ask the Lord for. It is easy to come to them frustrated and exhausted, just “wishing” that they would love their siblings better, respect authority more, serve more readily, express a more grateful heart, fill in the blank!
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” - Proverbs 22:6
God has called us to train our children, but the results of their hearts are His domain (Proverbs 21:1). Rather than allow ourselves to become sinfully frustrated by our children’s continued need for training (hence God giving them parents as trainers), we need to bow our hearts before God, Himself, and ask Him to do the work that is needed in their hearts. When we find ourselves “wishing” that they would change, we must stop and turn those hopeless longings into hopeful requests before the throne of God Almighty.
2. Resolve To Pray More With Our Children
One of the greatest ways that we can show our children how much we value prayer is to include them in it… often. God calls us to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. This short verse alone implies the necessity for constant prayer in our lives. This minute-by-minute dependance on the Lord is something we should desperately want our children to understand. Like we’ve said before if our children do not understand their need before a holy God, they will not understand that they must actually be saved.
There are some opportunities for prayer with our children that may seem more obvious. Thanking God for His provision at meal times, for example. But what are other times that we can be praying with our children?
Every morning after you finish reading the Bible to your children, pray. Each time you complete a time of correction, pray. Whenever your children are having a difficult time with obedience, pray. If you are having a difficult time with patience, pray. Before you drive away in your car, pray. Upon arrival at an event or play date, pray. These are all opportunities that we can be gathering our children together to pray with us throughout the day.
Another beautiful resource that will help us to pray more frequently with our children is the 2019 Prayer Calendar. This calendar gives you a person to pray for every month, with specific biblical prayer prompts to use with your children every day.
3. Resolve To Read More To Our Children
First and foremost, this must include the reading of the Bible. In order for our children to fall in love with Jesus, they must get to know Him. And in order for them to get to know Him, they must regularly engage with His Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1:1
The Bible is clear that Jesus Christ is the very Word of God! How can we know Him if we do not read the Word? Just as this is impossible for us, it is also impossible for our children. And let us remember that this is not just true of the New Testament, but of all of the Bible. We need to be sure that we are reading the whole of the Bible with our children throughout their lives. Read in the morning. Read after school. Read before bed. One thing is for sure, we will never reach a point where we are reading “too much” of the Bible to our children.
It is also a great benefit to read other books to our children. Developing a love for reading starts with being read to from a very early age. Even our littlest guy (two in January) has sat with us during our morning reading since he was big enough to sit at the table. We take turns reading fiction books and biographies. Both give us incredible opportunities to talk with our children about what it looks like to practically obey or disobey the Word of God in our everyday lives.
We also know that a dislike for reading can easily become an excuse for not reading the Bible in our older years. Many Christians struggle with consistently reading their Bibles simply because they “do not like to read”. As we continue to pray that God would save our children, we set them up for greater success when we encourage a love for and habit of reading from their earliest years.
4. Resolve To Be Quick To Listen And Slow To Speak
It is so easy as a parent to “talk our children to death”. Perhaps this goes back to resolve number one and we believe that our words will have a greater impact on our children than our prayers. But there is great wisdom, biblical wisdom, in fact, in being slow to speak.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” - James 1:19
One thing that we all want is children that will truly listen to what we say. And the truth is, the less we say the more likely they are to listen. If they are used to us droning on and on they will quickly learn to tune us out. (Think Charlie Brown.) We can require a child to make eye contact and sit still, but we cannot control how intently they listen to our words. By being clear and concise, we open up far greater opportunities to be truly heard by our children. By using words of encouragement when they fail, rather than words of discouragement and exasperation, we create a line of communication that will carry on, Lord willing, into the rest of our lives with them.
Side note, yelling will never be an effective way to get our children to listen to us. If we want to foster a biblical relationship with our children, we must resolve to never yell at them. (Unless they are running into the middle of the street, etc.)
5. Resolve To Uphold Our Children’s Reputation
A beloved mentor of mine once encouraged me to guard the reputation of my child. She pointed out that the things that I share with other people will ultimately create the reputation that my child has. What a weight! This means, going back to our last resolve, that we must be slow to speak… especially with others.
There will undoubtedly be times that we are worn out and feeling at our end. Sometimes we will be genuinely wounded and discouraged by something a child has said to us. Whatever the situation is we must be quick to speak these things to the Lord and slow to speak these things to others. Have you ever heard that our words are like ketchup? They easily spill out of the bottle, but it is impossible to stuff them all back in. Days and weeks later, sometimes even minutes later, we may forget about the offense all together. But our words will linger on, creating a growing reputation for our sweet children.
So does that mean that we cannot speak to others for help and counsel? Of course not! But when we have gone to the Lord first, those requests begin to sound incredibly different. “I am just so angry at little Johnny because he never listens to anything!” turns into “How do you help your children to listen more consistently?” And “Johnny just hit me again and threw a complete tantrum!” turns into “Can you please pray for me during a more difficult season of parenting?”.
When we make it about us, we drag our kiddos names through the mud. When we make it about the Lord’s will in the lives of our children, we uphold their reputation in a way that brings glory to Him.
So as we approach a new year and new opportunities, let us resolve to be more faithful and diligent parents. Our bodies are wasting away. Our success is temporary. But the investment that we make into our children is eternal.