From For Journey’s Sake, Niki French writes, Today, I am honored to have Jim Laudell, author of several books including his latest Highpoints, to be our guest in our Parenting a La Mode series. I have known the Laudell family for more than thirty years and have had the privilege of watching their children grow into Godly, productive, a la mode adults. To find out more, you may read the introduction to this series here or how to receive Summa cum Laude honors in your parenting here.
Parenting Faux Pas
(false step) by Jim Laudell
I did something so crazy and I paid for it. While taking a day off from a ministry trip in Cuiaba, Brazil, a few of us took an hour long drive to a waterfall, called in Portuguese, Cachoeira Véu da Noiva (Bride’s Veil Waterfall). While moving around the waterfall I accidentally slipped on the moistened path and slid over the cliff, down nearly 40 feet. I landed on a jutted rock protruding out of the rock face or I would have fallen to my death in the cavern 100s of feet below. I was bloodied and muddied. My clothes were torn but I managed to climb out on the rock face back to a safe landing.
I have tried to watch my steps with much more caution since but my greatest fear of falling wasn’t a cliff in Brazil but right in my own home. Being a father of a beautiful daughter and a remarkable son, making a false step or failure and obstructing their own path were my greatest fear. I didn’t want to mess up in front of my kids, with their watchful eyes and impressionable little hearts desiring to walk right, talk right and live right.
Now my son and daughter are both married with children of their own and here are a few cautious steps for fathers with faltering feet:
Pray With Your Children Daily
Every night before bed we would tell a bedtime story, take prayer requests of needs and pray with them and for them. Sometimes we would pray for the neighbor boy who fell off his bike or for an upcoming test at school, or for a boo-boo on the knee but we took each request seriously and often asked them to pray over the needs. As they grew older we continued our tradition to take every need to God in prayer.
Admit Your Mistakes And Allow Them To Make Mistakes
As a busy pastor, father and writer I made my share of mistakes with my children. Kneeling before them with tears in my heart and a humble heart, asking them to forgive me for my attitude, my stress, my anger or whatever it was usually brought a quick hug and a smile. My children made their mistakes but after correction they usually received a quick hug and a smile too.
Ask God To Help You
For a man to go into a private room; kneel on his knees and ask God, “Help me to be the father you want me to be,” is a life saver and life changer. You may not be perfect but your family isn’t looking for a perfect father but for an intentional father.
Spend Prime Time With Your Family
Prime time is the great reducer. A parent will spend less time in correction when you have spent more time together as a family. The more fun you have together the less problems you will have together. Positive outweighs the negative. When you merit the positive you won’t spend a lot of time and effort enforcing rules to contain the negative. Applaud their greatness with balanced discipline for disobedience.
Lead Them In The Right Direction;
Don’t Just Point Them In The Right Direction
Mental, physical and spiritual life isn’t instruction as much as example. Children follow patterns more than words. They are classic imitators. To have a good attitude will breed a good attitude. Praise – they will learn to praise. Follow good habits and they will create good habits. Lead them and tell them – you will be happy with the results.
Love Them And Tell Them Every Day
Whether infants, toddlers, elementary, adolescent, or teens, one thing is necessary on a consistent and intentional basis – love. Show them, tell them and express it. For a father the best thing you can do is show your children how much you love their mother. We are a huggy family; we like to hug each other frequently. Even though my son and daughter are grown with children of their own when we go into their house, everyone gets a hug. A heartfelt hug can change everything.
Even though we were not perfect parents we are enjoying the fruit of a life well lived and
my son and daughter are now following these tips with their children.