I am a few years away from having children, I am not even married, but I am making a list of things which I hope to say to my children one day.
Now, to add background to this post there are a couple of things you need to know. Firstly, since the age of seventeen I have been working full time as a youth and children’s worker in different contexts and I have lived with different households who have children. In both these contexts I have seen the importance of good parents, parents who instil a sense of significance, importance and confidence into their children yet avoiding arrogance, self-centred nature and attention seeking. However, that is not to say that good parenting creates the perfect child, no such thing exists!
I have also seen the damaging impact that poor parenting can have on a child (I think single parents have a bad enough rep in the media, I’m not talking about single parents here, just poor parenting). Here poor parenting is not about finances, it is about skill, care, love or attention. I have encountered children who feel they only have value if they can achieve a certain goal, or have been made to feel so insecure about themselves they feel they have to prove themselves at every possible opportunity.
From my observations of parents and children I have interacted with through work and those I live with I have come down to three key things I hope to say to my children should I be so privileged as to have some.
- I love you – So often people grow up not hearing that they are loved, not being reminded often enough, or they might be told it but they might not experience. I hope that I can tell my children that I love them every day of their lives, that they would hear me and experience my love and that my love can be some form of image that points them towards the love of God the Father.
- I am proud of you – Again, this is something people hear far less than they should. There is a piece of gold in every person which a father can be proud of, it is how we are made, I just hope I have the discernment to see what that is. Not only something measured by exam results but something deep in my child’s character.
- I am praying for you – Now I think this is even rarer than the previous two. In my mind parenting is discipleship. The two cannot be separated. If I am my child’s parent, as someone who follows Jesus it is my obligation to show them Jesus’ love daily, intercede for them daily and to seek God’s will for my child daily. This, I believe, can only be done through prayer.
So, as someone who doesn’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to the tough road of parenting, I want my (hopefully) children to know that I love them, I am proud of them and that I pray for them.