1) Remember that your kids are kids. They are not going to speak Latin and know what a “trivium” is when they are young. They will, however, know what candy is and exactly where it is located, want to touch everything, discover the joy of the water hose, love to cuddle, love to laugh, learn to “give kissies”, know exactly where “Finding Nemo” is located in the DVD rack and want to watch it for the 620th time, want to drink your beer, scream when the garbage truck pulls up, read the same book at least 25 times a day, eat the Playdough, become terrified when you vacuum the flooor, smear refried beans all over their head and in their eyes, laugh when they pee on your sofa as you are changing their diaper, laugh again when you try to stop them, cry when they have to stop having fun, cry when they have to get out of the bathtub, cry when they smash their chin and bite through their lip, and love to go into Lowe’s and look at all of the ceiling fans spinning around. I had many ideas about being a parent before I became one. It seems like all my “wisdom” has gone out the window since then. I remember one thing that Pastor Crawford said in a sermon that I heard second-hand from my wife. It went something like this: “Your kids are kids. That’s what they are. When they eat mud and play with the toys, they are doing what they were created to do. They are glorifying God when they scream and run and play. Let them be kids.” Anyway, that brief comment sank into my heart and life and changed me. You never know what God will use to help you become a better parent.
2) Know your theology and your Bible. This will help you act like God towards your children. I think of my parenting in terms of justice and mercy, much like God does towards us. If my son disobeys, I do not carry out “full justice” on him every time. If God disciplined us every time we disobeyed/sinned, we would be woeful, miserable creatures. Instead, God is very merciful to us in the hopes that His kindness would lead us to repentance. There are times when the temptation to disobey is too much for him so I move him out of the area of temptation, like God does with us. Sometimes he must be disciplined, in order that he might learn obedience. Though he is disciplined, he never ceases to be my son. I try to reinforce this idea by kissing him and hugging him and loving on him after he has been disciplined. Also, I make disciplining times as quick as possible with a rapid restoration following the event. I try to avoid long, drawn-out crysessions but remind my son that “It’s over, it’s over...” God forgives us quickly when we repent under His chastisement and His heart is towards us the moment we repent. I try to lavish good things on my son. You could call this “spoiling him”. I see God giving us all good things, even His own son, for our good and pleasure. We should be good to our children, not stingy. Our children should know us to have large hearts, to be bent towards giving them what they ask for. Do you see God, our Father, in this way? Delight in your children, have fun with them, let them give you joy. Act towards your children the way God acts towards His children. You can’t go wrong.