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Challenge #3 – Children

From the series Keeping Love Alive - Volume 3

New and experienced parents agree, raising kids is hard - and it puts a strain on one’s marriage. In this message, Chip asks… how can couples effectively parent their kids and still keep their marriages fresh? He unpacks what effective parenting looks like in this defective world, and highlights 8 specific ways to build deep bonds with your children – that’ll create a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

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Message Transcript

If you’ll pull out your notes, there has been a radical shift in culture, if you haven’t noticed, in the last five to ten years, but even more over the last thirty to forty. Your child’s world is more violent, more difficult, more fearful, more uncertain; what’s right, what’s wrong.

We’ve got gender fluidity, we have a complete shifting of values and culture, and it is a very difficult – we have technology that bombards your kids at ages that, I won’t go into all the research, but basically, it creates a world that is violent, uncertain, fearful, and defective.

We live in a day now where eighty percent of all children will at one time live with only one of their parents. Only about twenty-two to twenty-three percent of all the families in America currently – and this is a five-year-old statistic so it’s probably not this good – live in a family where both mother and father that are the biological parents of those children.

So, one out of five families have sort of a design with a mom and a dad that these are our kids. What is great is in God’s grace, those of us that have a blended family or those of us that have been through rough times, we become great trophies of God’s grace as He redeems those things.

So, all to say that the challenge in parenting is how do you navigate your child through these landmines of change and moral relativism, of overload, drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, and all the stuff coming at them? And so, if you’ll open your notes, I want to give you four principles for positive parenting, effective parenting in a defective world.

These are four principles, I’ll talk about how to develop your child’s personal life and how God made them, there’s another message on discipline that probably most of you would like a little help on, and – but this one is the overall principles.

Principle number one is this, is that effective parenting begins with positive, clear-cut objectives. In other words, you have to have a target on the wall. You’ve got to get super clear about, “What are we trying to accomplish as parents?” The key passage in the New Testament is Ephesians 6:4. In the Phillips translation it says, “Fathers, don’t overcorrect your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment. Bring them up with Christian teaching and Christian discipline.”

Underline, “Don’t overcorrect your child,” that’s a negative command. And then underline, “Bring them up,” which is a positive command.
Notice who it’s addressed to. Parents have both responsibility, but I did my thesis in seminary, because I had these two little boys and I’m a dad, and my dad worked really hard at it and we restored some things, but I didn’t learn how to be a dad from my dad.

And so, I looked up every verse in the Bible on men, parenting, and then I had a graduate degree in another area, and so, I did the social research on what does the best social research say in psychology and sociology about what are the case studies that make for parents that raise positive kids?

And what I can tell you is the Bible is really clear that men have a unique role. Men and women have about the same influence in terms of mother and father on your child’s self-concept. However, men have a disproportionate impact on the moral development of both little boys and little girls.

And there’s something about God has made the fathers as the one morally responsible for, you know what? We do all this together. Women obviously have greater nurturing ability both psychologically, but physically for sure. But in terms of who is going to own responsibility for what happens in this home? A lot of men, one, we feel very inadequate, but guys, I’ve got to tell you, this is our mission. Fathers, don’t exasperate your children. It’s easy to be hard on them.

And so, “But bring them up,” the word means, some of your other translations will say, “Nurture them.” The word means rear, nurture, to nourish. In classical Greek it meant the physical development. And then as you know, words develop over time.

It later became, by this time in Greek literature, it meant the total development of your child. In other words, the education, the moral development, the relational, the IQ emotionally. In other words, you want to bring them up and you have two tools. Notice, put a box around the word “Christian teaching” and put another box around “Christian discipline”. Christian teaching is you shape your kids with words. Christian discipline is you shape your kids with actions.

Some parents struggle a lot because they talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and their kids don’t obey. Most kids are far better of their students than parents are of their kids.

And what your kids do, you have, you’re sitting on the couch and you’re sitting over here and they hit their sister or brother, or they slam the door or do something and you’ve told them thirty times. And you, “Hey! Stop that right now!” Thirteen seconds later, “Hey! I told you! Quit hitting each other!” But, see, what your kids watched is you don’t get up out of the chair. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.

And then, here’s what they know. They have watched you. “Hey! Dagummit!” And possibly stronger, “How many times have I told you?” And they look calmly, look at each other and go, “I better stop hitting him.” Because what they have learned is they have studied you. Until you get angry, until you’re out of control, probably nothing is going to happen.

By contrast is you can actually learn to do this is you can say, “Bobby, Jimmy, come here. Okay.” And then you get down at their level and you look them right in the eye. And in a soft voice you say, “I am going to tell you one time. Don’t hit each other. If you do, there’s no more warnings, okay? This is what is going to happen.” And, of course, they have learned from how you used to do it, and you go, “Sit down,” and now you are waiting. And the moment you see it, you get up and you say, “Bobby, Jimmy, right now. You to your room, you to your room, I’ll be there in just a second.”

And then under control, without any anger, you administer discipline. And when they do it again, you do it exactly the same way. And then you do it exactly the same way. And for two weeks, they will wear you out. And after two weeks, you know what? You can say, “Okay, I want you to pick up your toys and it’s time to go.” And guess what they do. They pick up their toys and it’s time to go.

And they talk back and are sassing and doing this, and very calmly…you have to teach them, instruction, “This is right. This is wrong.” When they are small, they are concrete thinkers. When they are small, we talk too much; when they get older, preteens and teenagers, we talk too little. It’s absolutely, I’ll just use the word, stupid. You’ve got a four-year-old. “Don’t you understand it? When you do this and you do that and this is what God says and you could really hurt your little brother and someday if you ever do this.” And the kid is going…

Their brains develop – they are concrete. Right. Wrong. Do right, good consequences. Do wrong, bad consequences.

And that’s it! They don’t need long lectures. Then what we do when they get older, “Oh, well, they are teenagers, they are just going to be like that.” And you don’t talk with them. What they need then is you need to lay across the bed and, “What’s going on? What are you thinking? What was going through your mind when you did that?” And you stay connected to them.
So, you have two tools and we will talk about how to do that. But here’s the principle. It’s the principle of focus. Most parents parent out of fear. What you want to have is a crystal-clear focus. And I call this God’s dream versus the American dream for your child.

Under God’s dream, write down Romans 8:28. And then add verse 29. If you have been around church circles or been to any Christian bookstore, Romans 8:28 is on a plaque somewhere, “For we know that God works all things together for the good, to them that love God,” right? Got it? “…according to His purposes.” We sort of leave off 29. And 29 talks about, “Those whom He also called, He also predestined,” and what He predestined, though, was, “to conform them to the image of Christ.”

God’s target for your child, this is going to be hard to take, is not to make it in the NBA, is not to make the traveling team, is not to have a beautiful voice, is not necessarily to be able to play the violin, the piano, and the trumpet. It is not necessarily to get all straight As. God’s number one agenda for your child is to make him or her more and more like Jesus.

And so, that’s your target. Your target is their character, and their spiritual, and their moral development. Now, if they happen to be a good athlete, if they happen to be musically talented, if they happen to make the traveling team – in other words, if you would look at the average parent and look at where their energy and time goes, to what they try to develop. I live in a place where parents will move out of one neighborhood to another to get into a school system and their kids need to have a 4.3 in all AP classes and they still may not get into Stanford or Harvard or Columbia.

And we have kids every year where they might have a perfect score, but they don’t get into that. And if, from their family background, if you don’t become a doctor or a lawyer or get into one of those schools, we have kids who line up every year where the train is, and they step in front of it and they commit suicide, because they don’t measure up and they have brought shame to their family.

Their value is completely in their performance. And we don’t want to do that, but we tend to do that. The culture is the American dream is your kids need to be upwardly mobile, they need to have more than you, and unconsciously it’s you want them to be successful. Do you realize how miserable “successful” people are?

Not all of them, but if that’s the goal, if your whole world is, “I only am what I can accomplish, what I can achieve,” and then they buy into bigger is better, more is better, until I have this, own this, wear this.
And so, what you need to understand as a parent, you have to have a crystal-clear target. What are you trying to develop? Because your target will determine where you put your energy and your time.

Now, here’s the amazing thing. When a child understands that he is deeply loved by God, when a child understand their value as apart from whether they are good at sports or not good at sports, or whether they get all As, or…

Now, of course, do we want our kids to do their best? Do we teach them to be disciplined and all the rest? But that’s far different from it all boils down to…

Because, the truth of the matter is, unconsciously, we as parents, live vicariously through our kids and we really think that when they do really well, that’s what makes us look good.

What would change in your parenting if you had a crystal-clear target that said, “I am going to use words and I am going to use actions to help my son and my daughter,” whether from the time they are two or four or eight in different ways, preteens to teenage, “what kind of environments? What do we do? Where do we go? What does, what is going to look like our family table eating together? The research is amazing. If you never opened a Bible or never prayed, if you ate together three or four or five times a week, it will transform your kids.

IQ goes up, success in everything goes up, there are certain things that we were designed to do: eat together, being tucked in, feeling like someone cares about you, being heard. Those kind of things are what parents do and we are now living in a day where screens, pace, and speed are beginning to pull more. And now, it becomes more and more natural, because so few people live what I’m talking about.

But then ask yourself, “How are most parents doing with their kids?” It’s not pretty. Crystal-clear target.

Second, effective parenting demands that we practice what we preach. Paul would write to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians chapter 4, “I’m not writing these things to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you,” here’s that word again, “imitate me.”

We have touched on this already somewhat, but it’s the principle of modeling. More really is caught than taught. I jotted, this is an unknown quote, I don’t know where it comes from, “Let every father remember that one day his son or daughter will follow his example instead of his advice.”

You cannot impart what you don’t possess. You have to be significantly what you want your kids to become.

Now, let me fast-forward, because having done what I’ve done for almost forty years and watching parents at different stages, I have been with parents that so work for their kids and it was education or it was success or sports and all the rest. And I like sports and I demanded that my kids do their very best in school and all the rest.

But I can’t even try to tell you what it’s like to sit down with someone that has grown children that make no contact with them anymore that are super successful, but they don’t have any relationship with their mom and dad anymore.

I have one particular friend who, his sister scored a perfect score on the ACT and on the SAT. They came from another country, they were immigrants, and the parents were, like, I mean, three or four hours of study after school every day, prepared starting in the sixth grade for the SATs. And she has a graduate degree from the most prestigious university and a doctorate from the Harvards of the world. And she has changed her phone number and address multiple times so her family can never get in touch with her.

And I can’t just tell you how many parents realized, “We were really successful and that the ladder was against the wrong wall.” And I sit with them and they say, “You know something? At the end of the day, whether they made twenty thousand or fifty thousand or a hundred thousand, or whether they went to this school or that school, you know, if my son or daughter, if I could do it all over, if they were kind, if they loved God, if they were others-centered, if they weren’t arrogant, if they had a strong marriage, if they cared for other people, and they were the kind of people that you would just love to be around, that would be so much more important than where I pushed them and what I wanted to see happen.”

Because you’ve got to define success and they will get it first from the target, and then they’ll get it from the teacher. And you are their teachers. You profoundly, more than anything else in all the world, shape your kids’ attitudes, their minds, and their hearts. So, we have got a target; we have a teacher, which is you; and then it happens in a very significant environment. And the environment is effective parenting not only has a crystal-clear, positive target, not only do we practice what we preach…

And by the way, when I say that, don’t hear perfection. In other words, we practice what we preach. What do we preach? We preach when we blow it, when we sin, when there’s an outburst of anger, when we do something that we know is wrong, what do we do?

We admit it, we are honest, we are vulnerable, we go to our Father, we confess it, and, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us.”

Right? So, that means that when I blew up with my kids and I disciplined out of anger, and then I realized it, because it was the third time and I can’t believe it, and it was all me, then I actually got with my kids and I asked them to forgive me. And I said, “I’m really trying to be the kind of dad that God wants me to. And the way I disciplined you was not how God wants you to. I did it out of anger. My voice was loud, I got super intense, I could tell you were afraid. And I’m sorry.” To a five-year-old, to a six-year-old, “Will you forgive me?” And you know what? Kids are amazing, “Yeah, Dad, I forgive you.”

“Well, could we do like I do with you? Because when you, when I discipline you, right? I may, I help you understand, I ask you, ‘What did you do wrong?’” I have them verbalize it. “And who did you offend or hurt?” “Well, I hurt my sister.” And, “Well, who else?” “Well, God, because He told me not to.” “Okay, well, let’s – I put my kids and sit them in my lap after I disciplined them, and I’d teach them to pray, “Father, would You forgive me? Thank You that right now, just like on a whiteboard, you wiped away it all and You love me and You care for me, and I am sorry that I hit so-and-so.” “Okay. Have you got it?” “Yeah.” And we’d pray together.

My youngest son, he’s a pastor now. He said some of the most precious, deepest times of connection he and I ever had was after I disciplined him.

It’s one thing when people accept you when you’re doing something good, right? But it’s something amazing when someone accepts you when you have blown it. And that’s what God does for us. And that’s what you want your kids to learn.

So, when I say you’ve got to practice what you preach, it doesn’t mean you have it all together, it just means you model for your kids exactly what God wants you to do.

So, effective parenting builds relationships that bond, is the key word. And when I say “bond” I mean a connection of the child’s heart with your heart. I put, there’s a couple divine examples.

The apostle Paul is speaking to the Thessalonians. And it’s interesting, he gives us two word pictures. He talks about his time with them. He says, “But we were gentle among you, like a,” circle the word, “mother caring for her little children.” How do moms care? They nurture, they love, they hold their kids close. “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you, not only the gospel of God, but also our lives as well, because you had become very dear to us.” Underline the word “loved you”, underline the word “to share with you”, and underline “dear to us”. Do you see the tenderness?

There’s a tenderness, there’s a tenderness with your kids. And then notice he goes on. He says, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father,” well, how do fathers deal, “with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you,” right? There’s a goal out there. There’s an objective, “…to live lives worthy of God’s call, who called you into His kingdom and His glory.”

See, part of what dads do that is a little bit different than most moms, at least, is it’s not just we want you to be Christlike, we want you to figure out: God put you on the planet… “Children are like an arrow in your quiver.” What do you do with arrows? You don’t get a bunch of arrows and go, “Whoa, has anybody seen my arrows lately?” What do you do with arrows? You pull arrows out and you cock them, and you get a target, and you release them.

You want your kids to discover: Why God made you. This is why you’re good at this. This is why you have these passions. This is why you struggle with this. You are a unique thing because He has a calling on your life. Your kids will never be happier or more fulfilled than if they discover what God wants them to do, and they do it.
My job, your job is to help our kids become like Jesus but become like Jesus as they are fulfilling what only they can fulfill. There’s no DNA like your children in anywhere in the world. He has made them uniquely. And your family is unique. And you live in a unique part of the country, in a unique time of history. And it’s not about protecting our kids from this and that, it’s equipping our kids.

You want your kids going, “We are taking, we are taking the world on.” It’s not about, “Am I going to do drugs, or am I going to do alcohol, or what if I do this, or if I get someone pregnant, or what about this?” No. This is what we are doing. We are taking the message of God and the love of God. As a family, we are going on a mission trip, we are building an orphanage, we are going to make a difference. Kids’ self-esteem isn’t because they get a little trophy and everyone tells them they are wonderful. Self-esteem is when you get confidence and you build resistance and you go through things.

How did you learn it? But what they need is tenderness and then an arm around them. Those three words – encouraging means you’re, as a father, you’re the number one cheerleader. Comforting is speaking a bit stronger, because they didn’t quite get it. And the word “urging” is very strong like, “Young man, that behavior happens again, you really don’t know what that’s going to look like. You may be grounded for life.” But it’s this progression of this tenderness and directness.

The principle of relationship. Notice it says the parents’ lifestyles. And what I mean is the values and the beliefs that you hold, not that you say, or that you send them places.

If we could redo church, this is a Chip Ingram, personal opinion. Even all our years, our kids sat with us in church. They went to the youth group too; they sat with us. I wanted my kids to see me and my wife worship. I wanted my kids, from about third grade on, it was like, oh, are they a little bit bored? Yeah, they’ll get over it. But they pick up a lot. And then you have something to talk about.

And then it’s like, “Hey, dad, what’s, how come that lady over there, she’s got her hands raised? And how come mom was, I saw tears? What’s with these little wafers that passing around and everyone is getting really serious about? And that’s not a very big swimming pool. How come it’s so small?” Right?

Instead, you know what we did? We segregated the family and we stuck them in a youth group or a children’s ministry. And then they get to be ready to head off to trade school or college or something, and they have never felt a part of something. And it really became a social group that taught the Bible some and did some good things. And so, but the social part was the major.

So, they go away. Do they jump into a church? Do they jump into a ministry? Sixty-nine percent of them, five years after they leave high school, from evangelical teaching churches, abandon the faith.

I don’t know about you, but someone ought to say, “What we are doing doesn’t work.” Success is not: Does my kid go to the youth group or are they just going to a Christian church or school?
What you need to understand is the moral responsibility for your child’s spiritual development is yours. Hope the church can help. If there’s a school or some other way, great. But you are the teacher. And whether they get it or don’t get it is not the church’s responsibility or the pastor’s responsibility or the youth group or the children’s minister. All those people are just little helpers.

Do you realize how many cultures have come and gone? How many people groups in the thousands of years of history that no one has ever heard of? And have you ever wondered why some guy name Abraham started a little family clan and they are still intact today? You know what Jews own? The education of their young. They don’t outsource it.

Orthodox Jews, we teach our kids, the Father – what? Right? Deuteronomy 6, the great Shema. Bar mitzvah, this is when you become a man; these are your responsibilities. You can agree, disagree, but those cultures that own the education of their kids.

How do you transfer the values that you have, that you actually live out, into your child? And here’s the axiom. The stronger your relationship, and I mean heart connection with your kids, the greater the possibility that your values and your faith get transferred over this relationship bridge to your children.

By contrast, the weaker your relationship, your heart connection with your kids, the lower the possibility that they will embrace your faith and your values.

Third axiom would be tension, tests, and difficulties are normal for your kids to grow and develop. They have got to test the limits, they have got to say, “I don’t know if I buy into all this and all that,” but here’s the deal, you are going to have some troubled waters – those parents that have built relationships that bond, when there is the difficulty and the pain and the challenges, it’s that bond that can carry the weight of the difficulty.

One of my sons was a very rebellious young man and my prayer for him was, God, will You please not let him just end his whole life in the ditch? And we had about four and a half years where his words to me were, “Dad, I kind of like you as a guy, I just don’t like that you’re a Christian. I want to do what I want whenever I want, go wherever I want, come in whenever I want.” I said, “Well, as long as you live in this house, that’s not happening. So, here are the two guardrails, son. You can never get me to stop loving you and you can never have your own selfish way.”

But it was hell on earth in our home, at times. And he is really smart, and he knew how to push all of our buttons. So, when he would have wrestling practice and it would go late and he wouldn’t be there for dinner, it was like it was such a – I felt so guilty, because it was so much better. It was so nice not to have…and he and I, looking back now, both of us would say I was way too hard on him. I didn’t understand. He’s an artist. I’m not. I’m driven, clear, type A. He’s melancholy, artistic, musical.

And I remember him sitting in front of our house and it got to where it was killing the rest of our family. And I remember tears streaming down, sitting right in the car, and I said, “Son, I have tried to help you as much as I can, and if you’re ready to make all your own decisions and,” I think he was a senior in high school or near the end, and I just said, “this can’t continue. You’ve got forty-eight hours.” And he’s a tough kid. Oh my gosh.

I watched him in a wrestling match, one, the guy had a broken hand; he just taped it and went ahead and won his division. That attitude for good is really good. But when it’s in your face, it’s really bad.

We struggled with it and I said, “You’ve got forty-eight hours. You can either – you don’t have to believe in God, you don’t have to have my values, but you’re not going to wreck our home. You’re going to come here, have a good attitude, and you’re going to treat your mom with respect, and your brothers. And you’ve got forty-eight hours to pray about it or you need to move out. We are done.”

And I’m fearful of what the implications would be. And it was like, I’m sure we remember it different, but all I can remember is he went to his bedroom for two days. And he told me later, this is the point of this, he told me later, he said, “Dad, I knew I was rebelling and I knew you and I had our issues, so I liked getting at you.”

And, honestly, he’s very astute, he goes, “I wanted to see how far I could really push you.” He found out. And then he said, he said, “I went back to: do I really believe in God or not or…?”

And he said, “I went back all the way those two days and I just asked God, all I know is you weren’t yelling at me. The tears were flowing down your face in the car.” And he said, “All I could think of was, you’re the same at home as at church. And this is so real to you and mom. I asked God, Would You make it that real to me? And something happened back in that bedroom.”

And he walked out, and because he was so manipulative he said, “I’m good. I’m ready to…” And I thought, Sure. I mean, it’s just like, I was just kind of waiting for the next round of jacking me around.

And it was, the word is in, the Bible word would be he repented. He had a change of mind that led to a change of action. My prayer was, Oh God, do whatever You need to do in this velvet vise of discipline. Be as gentle as You can, but do whatever You need to do to preserve him. And He did.

And when I look at that bridge, I think there were, even during that time we would go out to breakfast and he’d roll his eyes. I said, “Son, we are going to spend time together. We are going to hang out. You don’t have to love me; you don’t have to even like it. But I love you.”

Now, I didn’t feel that inside. I’d come back and Theresa would, “Well, how did it go?” “I got nothing. Just wasting my time.”

But love isn’t emotions. It’s behavior. And so, what you do is you do what is right when you feel like it, and you do what’s right especially when you don’t feel like it.

You have been brought up in a world that is just so, everything has been put into psychological terms instead of biblical and spiritual terms. And I got degrees in this stuff, so I understand the value of psychology and learning stuff and all the jazz. But here’s what I’m going to tell you. Is that – God… God loves us. And you have to listen to your behavior, not just to words.

You know what you believe? Whatever you genuinely believe, it’s how you live, it’s what you say, it’s what you actually do. And we have lived in a psychological world that is all about emotion and experience. And you know what? That’s, there’s valid parts, but I remember the day I realized Jesus emotionally did not want to die for me and He didn’t want to die for you. You ever think about that?

When we say, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” we get this warm, ooey-gooey feeling. It wasn’t a warm, ooey-gooey feeling. It was, He understood that there would be this break between Him and God the Father and He understood what was going to happen physically, and He was going to be humiliated. And He said, “If there’s a plan B,” this is my translation, “if there’s any way around going to the cross, nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done.”

He emotionally did not want to go to the cross. He chose to go to the cross when it felt excruciating and rejection by people and by the Father and in that moment and window of time, your sin and my sin – when He says it was finished – your sin and my sin and the just wrath of God on all sin was poured on Him. And He became a sin offering.

Everything that you deserve and every human being ever deserved, tchoo, it went on Him, and He absorbed it. And so, when I think about loving, I think our greatest acts of love are when I don’t want to do it, I don’t feel like doing it, and I choose to do it. Because love is fundamentally volitional.

I like it when emotions are there, but love is choosing to do what needs to be done and giving another person what they need the most when they don’t deserve it, at great personal cost.

Here’s eight ways to build these bonds.

Unconditional love. Even my older boys, they are in their forties now, they still end conversations, of course, my daughter, she is, “I love you, Dad.” You need to verbalize that. And you need to love them when they do good, love them when they do bad.

Scheduled time. They have to be in your schedule. It’s regular. Having dinner together, having specific times; calendar them in. They matter.

Focused attention. Cornell University did a study on fathers. They put microphones on them and then after they got used to it, they found that the average father had thirty-seven seconds of meaningful conversation with their children. Thirty-seven seconds. I mean, other than, “Do this,” or, “Get that,” or, “Help your mom with this,” or, “Set the table.” Thirty-seven seconds of eye contact, connection, “You matter,” “How are we doing?” The TV is not on; it’s focused. You’re not doing something else.

Eye contact, looking your kids in the eye. All the research – it matters. There’s something about when our eyes connect with our kids.

Consistent communication. Bedtime, dinner table, shared experiences.

Meaningful touching. Dads, this is, I talk more to dads, because I’m a dad. I get it, okay? Especially when your daughters are just hitting puberty, man, they need meaningful, non-sexual touching from dad.
And by the way, when they start developing, it gets a little awkward, or it can feel that way. And that’s when they need it the most, because if they don’t feel secure and learn there’s a powerful, loving, male figure that is non-sexual, they will go out and look for love in all the places that you do not want to see happen.

Girls learn to be feminine by how their dads treat them, how their dads talk to them, and it’s really important. When your kids are small, wrestle with them, hug them, wrestle with them.

When we were, I would be hugging your mom and Annie would come between us and she goes, “Oh, I want to do a sandwich,” and she wanted to be between us, right?

Have fun together. It’s really, you hear me, all this intensity and seriousness. Your house needs to be where the fun is. Have fun, play together, do games together.

Monday through Friday, or Monday through Thursday, or Sunday through Thursday, whenever school was the next day, we didn’t watch TV during the week. And we didn’t have a bunch of screens and stuff. And after you get really bored, you play the guitar, you lift weights in the garage, you play one-on-one, you play games together. Those kind of things are what happens.

And what’s easy is you’re tired and go watch this or go do that. And I’m not saying that you need to do this every night but have fun together and then pray together.

The last one is effective parents require consistent repair and ongoing maintenance.

I don’t know that there is anything in the entire world that I have felt more as a failure than as a parent. The hardest thing I have ever tried to be is a dad, a good parent.

But I think this one, constant repair and ongoing maintenance. I finally got to where the only perfect parent is the Father. And the only perfect person is Jesus. And He lives in me and He lives in you, I pray, and this promise from 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And this is the principle of process.

And for me, these were five powerful words and that I said to my kids at all different ages, and to this day, “I’m sorry, and please forgive me.” I think sometimes as a parent you feel like you have to be right or you can’t admit it. And you mess up. And so, your soul gets all messed up. And it seems to me that when we mess up with our kids, just do for them what we want them to do for us.

There are few things more precious than when one of our kids, over time, they kind of mature. And they do something they know is wrong, and before you catch them, they come to you and they say, “Dad, you probably would find out about this sooner or later, but this is what I did. And I’m…” And tears streaming down their, “I’m sorry.”

And what do you do? You hug them is what you do, right? And I think just sometimes rather than trying to be some perfect parent, man, this has to be such a high priority.

But then, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

“And please forgive me.” And kids are very resilient.

Lord, just going over these things reminds me of how much pressure I know that we felt as parents, how uncertain, at times fearful, as things changed and as our kids went through, looking back, pretty normal ups and downs.

God, I would pray for these moms and these dads, that, yes, they would take their parenting really seriously. It’ll be the hardest and most rewarding job ever.

Give them a clear target in their mind and their heart. And help them to, if they are not practicing what they preach, help them just to talk to You and start practicing what they preach. And would You help them in the midst of all this bombardment of technology and busyness and to take time to build relationships that bond? Storms are going to come; it’s normal, it’s natural. Help them to build bridges where their heart and their kids’ hearts are deeply, deeply connected.

And then, God, would You give them the grace to not be so hard on themselves and not think that every little decision or if they have blown it here or blown it there or somehow think – it’s never too late. Our kids are so desirous of our approval.

And we just confess we need Your help.