This is a significant time of the year for many households as students return to school and family patterns are (re)established. In encouragement to families, I would like to offer some helpful suggestions to parents as they seek to show love to their children.
1. Pray for your child daily that they will love themselves and make good decisions. Pray for yourself as a parent that you are able to listen, direct, love and have the courage to be a parent. Your child is a gift to you and you are a gift to them. God, who seeks to be a part of your lives, gives these gifts.
2. Set boundaries for your child that you are able to clearly identify to them and that you are going to follow through on. You must follow through with discipline or the boundaries do not make any difference. Do not give up that responsibility because your child shows some resistance. Do what you can to be consistent.
3. Know what your child is doing, who they are with, and where they are going. Make your child accountable for letting you know what is going on with them.
4. Daily tell your child that you love him or her, even if they are 6 feet, 3 inches tall and they do not say anything in return. Your child needs to hear from you that you love them.
5. Praise your child whenever possible. Most children are trying to do the best they can. They need to know that we see that.
6. Help your child to make decisions. Do not make all their decisions for them but help them to process what things need to be considered when they make a decision. This will help them to have ownership of their decisions.
7. Let your child know that you know that you are not perfect. When you make a mistake, admit it. When you have done something for which you need to apologize, do so.
8. Spend time with your child. Play. Laugh. Develop a common interest. Take an interest in your child’s activities. Attend their performances, athletic games and award ceremonies. Your presence is very important.
9. Realize that you can do all the right things and that all the wrong things can happen. You are not perfect. Your child is not perfect. Learn to be hopeful, work together to resolve those things that may go wrong, and seek a better future.
10. Worship weekly with your child. When your spiritual center is nurtured, your lives will be well fed.
Know that the churches of the Helena area are ready to help and be supportive of all families.
Martin Russell is the lead pastor at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church.