One of our goals in ministry is to facilitate the creation of healthy families. We routinely get calls from parents who are looking for counseling for their kids. Our philosophy is to teach parents how to minister to their children. We believe that parents are the best possible people to “counsel” their children, even in difficult circumstances. Children spend the majority of their time with their parents, and equipped parents are able to address problematic situations on an ongoing basis, rather than having a stranger meet with the children for one hour per week. Most children do not welcome another stranger in their lives, telling them what to do and how to act.
One reason we prefer to spend our time teaching parents is because we are essentially helping the whole family at once. The parents learn biblical truth and how to apply it to their lives, and then they pass that wisdom on to their children in discipleship.
One of the things we teach parents is that the goal of every person’s life is to glorify God (2 Cor. 5:9). Many of the issues children and adults are currently facing are emotionally charged. In spite of this, the parents need to communicate that it is still possible, and even expected, that the family members will respond to those things in ways that glorify God. What this means for the parents is that they must set the example in speech and in deed. As the kids watch how mom and dad respond, trust and confidence in God are built.
Another crucial issue in parenting is being trustworthy. Parents often complain that their children are not honest with them, that they keep secrets, or are deceptive by not telling the entire truth. Parents must understand that it is critical to be a man or woman of their word if they expect the children to do the same. Be a person of your word. Too many times parents make promises they have no intention of keeping, just to “shut them [the kids] up.” Don’t make promises you cannot keep, don’t get the kids’ hopes up for something and back out at the last minute.
Have a Forgiving Attitude
Have a forgiving attitude and teach the kids to do the same. This, more than almost anything else, will impact children for the future. A child who does not learn to forgive will grow up to be bitter, angry, rebellious, or have a higher possibility for drug or alcohol involvement. We can teach children the principles of forgiveness, but they will not live them at home unless mom or dad does first! They will model their parents.
Parents must demonstrate a Christ-like attitude toward one another, even when there is pain or heartache between them. Teach them to return good for evil; allow your kids to know when you suffer at the hands of another person; be willing to be wronged rather than take revenge! Be the bigger person in a conflict and your children will soon see with their own eyes the reality of who is godly and who is not.
Treat your family members with kindness and respect when you deal with them. More than anything else, be forgiving! Discuss the application of Scriptures like Matthew 6, Philippians 2 and other passages that emphasize the attitude of Christ toward those undeserving of anything but hell.
Building these principles and heart attitudes into your family will change things much more than sending the kids to see a counselor once a week.