You can do this…with God’s help. This blog is going to feel heavy to some parents, so I wanted to start by declaring that you can be an active, intentional parent by the power of the Spirit who lives within you.
You are not perfect…no one is. There are going to be days where you feel like a failure because you yelled at your kids or spent too much time on your phone or on Netflix. Persevere through the bad, not-so-productive days.
We all agree…our kids are worth it. Being an active parent is hard work. It’s so much easier to let school, church, and YouTube take care of our kids’ education, spiritual formation, and attention. But honestly, none of us really want that. We want to teach our kids how to ride a bike, read the Bible, and write their names. To do that, to be a truly active parent, takes a strategic plan.
Have a written plan for spiritual, educational, and familial growth for yourself, your kids, and your family with an accountability partner (likely your spouse). Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man.” Write out specific plans to help your kids as they are growing physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Set realistic goals that you can control. Instead of “I want my child’s reading level to increase by one grade level,” set a goal like “I want my child to read three books a week.” Unlike the first, you can control the second example. Have a vision of where you want to see yourself, your kids, and your family in the next month or year or five years and then develop a mission plan of how to achieve that vision. What qualities do you want your kids to exhibit? What habits do you want yourself and your family to develop?
Limit electronic (phone/TV/tablet) use for your kids and yourself. Read a book together, play outside, get on the floor with legos or action figures, go on a mini adventure, sing and dance in the living room. All of these things help kids grow and make memories. This is hard, especially after a long day at work, but it’s far better for your family than vegging-out on the recliner in front of the TV. Also, watch and read whatever your kids are watching and reading. Knowing the content of what they’re consuming not only protects them but also shows them that you care about what interests them.
Be intentional with your time. Time is a commodity that you cannot earn more of and often give away or waste too freely. Your time is yours, so budget it wisely. Make detailed schedules and discipline yourself to stick to them. Your kids might hate it now (and sometimes you might too) but they’ll appreciate it when they’re grown. An example of one of my schedule goals is going to the gym for at least an hour some time during the day. So if it’s 9:00pm and I haven’t been, I get up and go. Sometimes that means putting work down or turning off a TV show. Set personal and family priorities and stick to them.
Be proactive (ready before something happens) so that you’re not reactive (waiting for things to happen then responding). Putting all the points above into practice may seem like an impossible task, but it really just takes intentionality. Being proactive by designing a strategy that you discipline yourself and your family to will reduce the number of situations that demand a reactive response. If your kids ask to do something outside of the established standard, then you use the plan to tell them that’s not how they’re going to spend their time. When discipline starts to get lax (with yourself and/or your kids) remind everyone of the family vision you have and what it’s going to take to achieve it.
Do it all for the glory of God. The family unit or household is God’s idea, so everything you desire and plan for your family should be motivated by the desire to glorify God. How you spend your time, how you measure success, and what you watch and listen to, should all reflect a passion to live for Jesus rather than self.
Parent, if all of this seems like a lot, go back and read the three things at the top under First.