10 Parenting Tips

      My wife and I have five children ages 24, 22, 20, 18 and 12 and we have fostered numerous children over the years.  We have made many parenting mistakes but I think I can offer you some hard-earned advice from the trenches.  These tips are in no particular order.   
1.  Point your children to Jesus Christ.  This life is short; eternity is long.  Jesus makes this life better and is the only way to heaven.  We have had the privilege of watching each of our children decide to follow Jesus.  He gives purpose and meaning to life.  He gives strength in the hard times and is the ultimate source of joy.  Pray regularly for your children; Jesus can be with them even when you can't.   
2.  Co-parent with Dellie Dickinson, as she is a remarkable mother.  Okay, only I get the privilege of doing that, but here is the takeaway--partner well in your parenting.  My wife and I are a team.  We strive to never undermine the other parent.  We talk through major decisions together.  We each bring a different set of eyes to the situation and our "together solution" is usually better than what either one of us would have decided on our own. 
3.  Enjoy your children.  Light up when they enter the room.  Smile at them often.  Explore what you enjoy doing together and do that.  One example is that I have played thousands of hours of board games with the kids over the years.  This gives us a chance to talk and laugh.  Touch them, hug them and spend time with them daily.  
4.  Apologize when needed.  We have certainly made parenting mistakes.  Yes, it's humbling to go into the room of a child and say you're sorry but it's powerful and important.   Always listen to their side of a disagreement and strive to really understand them and their point of view. 
5.  Give your child your blessing.  In the Hebrew Scriptures there are examples of fathers calling in their sons before they died and offering them an official blessing.  Words matter! On a regular basis we try to catch our children doing things right and we commend them.  One ritual that I do with the children is on their birthday I take them to breakfast, just the two of us and I read them a letter I wrote them.  The letter is never more than a page but in it I look over the last year and point out where I have seen them grow.  I affirm their blossoming maturity.  They know that we are proud of them. 
6.  Sow the Bible into them.  The Bible is God's truth.  Kids need a place to stand.  They need to understand right and wrong.  The Bible gives a child the framework on how to live.  God's book of wisdom is simple enough for a child to comprehend the basics and complex enough that no one is ever finished understanding it.   We talk about current events and issues from a Christian world view.  In addition, regular church involvement is crucial.  
7.  Laugh often.  Yes, my kids cringe at some of my dad jokes but they love being in a home where practical jokes and humor are valued. 
8.  Set and enforce appropriate limits.  The relationship matters more than rules but every child needs rules.  Hold them to high standards but always help them understand the principle behind the rule not just the rule itself.  Particularly in the area of media intake.  TV and the internet are full of sinful, destructive content.  Protect your children, it’s your job. 
9.   Really listen to children.  Put down that phone!  Regularly give your children your full attention.  One example, my wife came up with is an idea I love called the exit interview.  Whenever one of our children moves out of our house we take them out for a nice dinner and we ask them questions about what it was like to grow up in our home.  One thing our oldest son said is that he got the generosity message loud and clear, but not much about how to handle money in general.  So, with our younger children we exposed them to resources such as Dave Ramsey's financial teachings.
10.  For children love is spelled TIME.  We all have to work, but spend as much time with your children as you can.  Please believe me, it goes SO QUICKLY.

Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church