I’ll never forget lying there in the hospital bed with her plastic crib as close as possible. She slept there so quiet and still, as though she didn’t even know she had been born into this amazing world. In the dark of that first night, a thousand thoughts filled my head. I was in awe at the marvelous creation of human life. I was thankful for what we had endured.
But most of all, I felt an incredible sense of responsibility…and fear. Here I was not even 27 years old and God had trusted me with this precious life. Even though I had read at least 50 parenting books, I knew I was vastly unprepared for the course that lay ahead of me.
What would she need to know? How would I prepare her for life in this wretched world?
Maybe you’ve been there, too. Maybe you are like me and find that over a decade later, you still feel the weight of this incredible responsibility God has given us.
One thing I have learned since that first night is that while the responsibility is indeed great, if I stay close to God, He will guide my every step. I’ve learned that there are millions of little things and hundreds of huge things she needs to know. But what I’ve really learned is that I need to be very intentional in the teaching.
I’ve learned that if I am not intentional to teach my children everything that God desires for them, someone else is going to teach them all of the things that He does not. And that is not only sobering, it’s downright scary. It motivates me to be very intentional with this teaching thing, but it also presents a big question.
What do they need to know? What are those super important pillars upon which they will build their lives? I couldn’t even pretend to have all the answers to such a deep question, but I have learned that there are some very specific things God has outlined for us to teach them.
10 Things Every Child Needs to Know
1. Prayer is what keeps you breathing.
I Thessalonians 5:16 reminds us to pray continually–without ceasing. It truly is our breath of life. Without being able to talk to God, this life would be ever so difficult to navigate.
One way to teach children to have a better prayer life is to go beyond the standard rote prayers and use something like these prayer cards.
2. Everyone needs grace and Jesus died to give it to us.
Ephesians 4:7 says that every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. This is a very good thing for us, as we would never be able to earn this on our own. We must remember that God has extended this same grace to others just as much as He has to us.
One resource that has transformed my parenting is Give Them Grace. It’s an honest look at how guilty we are as parents of not extending grace to our children when they mess up.
3. Character is how we show others that we’ve given God our life.
1 Timothy 4:12 reminds our children to set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Of course, our lives also set an example for the rest of the world, too. As the old song says, “We are a sermon in shoes.”
My favorite resource for teaching and encouraging character is the character badges system. It’s a wonderfully easy chart and reward system that my family has grown to love.
4. If you want to be great, learn to be a servant.
Matthew 20:26 reminds us of this great truth. Those who desire to be great must be servants. Jesus came to this world to serve, and our goal in life should be to have the same humility and servant heart that He had. It’s contrary to what the world teaches about greatness, but it’s the only way to truly live.
I’ve yet to find a great parenting resource that helps teach this concept, but we have enjoyed this acts of service jar very much.
5. The Bible has all of the answers to every single problem.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. If we have a problem, God has an answer. We don’t need anything else!
Of course, the Bible itself is the tool you would use to prove this to your children, but Child Training Bible and Doorposts Resources will help you find the verses you might be looking for when you are dealing with a particular issue or situation.
6. Daily study of God’s Word will keep you from falling.
Knowing God’s Word has the answers is only the first step. Psalm 119:11 tells us that if we hide it in our hearts (memorize it and think on it often), it will keep us from falling into sin.
A journal or daily Bible reading program is the perfect way to do this. We have enjoyed a family devotional study through resources such as 24 Family Ways. We’ve also used read-through-the-Bible journals such as this one from Kids in the Word.
7. Obedience shows that you believe God and that you love Him.
1 John 5:3 says that if we love God, we will obey His commands. We like to make this simple truth more complex than it really is, as we don’t enjoy thinking about the fact that our disobedience shows a lack of love. But it’s true. If we really love God, we will obey.
Our family has been challenged in HUGE ways by this obedience Bible study that I wrote to help children want to obey both God and the other authorities God has placed over them.
8. God has a very specific design for sex.
In Hebrews 13:4, God commands us to hold marriage in honor among all and to keep the marriage bed undefiled. Of course marital purity starts long before our children get ready to walk down the aisle. We need to be ready to combat the lies that the world is constantly feeding them about sex, sexuality, lust, desire, and purity.
The Talk is my absolute favorite resource for this. It’s been a huge help in guiding the discussion with my kids regarding God’s true design for sex.
9. If we are thankful in everything, our hearts will have true peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 are possibly the most rehearsed verses in our house. We must constantly remind ourselves that God calls us to constant thanksgiving in every circumstance we are given and He promises that this thanksgiving will guard our hearts with the peace of Christ Jesus. What a blessing!
We’ve been really enjoying this thanksgiving hymn study in our home over the past few weeks. Appropriate for the fall (or anytime of the year!) it reminds us, through the study of hymns and scriptures, that we are so abundantly blessed.
10. What you say really matters.
Proverbs 18:21 might be among the most convicting verses in the Bible, as it reminds us that EVERY single word we utter either speaks death or life. This is also possibly one of the hardest things to deal with when it comes to parenting. Every single day we say hundreds of careless words, especially if we are home together all day.
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