The role of parents in the lives of their children cannot be underestimated. Of course we have a natural role – we are to protect and provide for our offspring – but we sometimes forget that we have an irreplaceable role in the spiritual and emotional lives of our children as well. There are many messages from the world telling us otherwise, but we need to stand firm in the truth that we have a special dignity and responsibility as parents. When your children are young, you cannot be your child’s friend, or companion, or buddy. You need to be the authority figure, the protector, the image of God the Father to them. This is a daunting task, but God will give you the grace you need.
How do you exercise this “irreplaceable role”? How can you take your rightful place in the life of your child in a way that no one else can?
- Protect, protect, and form them. Infants and toddlers need protecting and providing, but so do teenagers. It looks different, but someone has to do it. Food, clothing, and shelter is the simple part, but we also need to provide for kids emotionally, socially, and spiritually. And never forget that you are the first and best teacher of your child. Lean into that role and use the power of your relationship to speak to their hearts.
- Be a student of your child. Observe them. Learn their personality type. Find what motivates them. We all want to be known, and this is true at every age of our lives. It gives a person security like nothing else to be “known” by their parents.
- Invest in them. You could die tomorrow, and in a few weeks your place of employment would find a replacement for you. But your children would be changed forever by your loss. Your family is the greatest return on your investment. And they need you more than anyone else.
- Confirm them in their identity and belonging. Your child is a son or daughter of God and you are the one God has chosen to confirm that identity on them. Create a family culture so your child knows that when the world beats them up, they will always know their identity and place in your home.
- Give them purpose for life. One of the highest and most important needs of man is a sense of purpose. Children need to know that God has a plan for their lives, that He has a mission specifically for them. Their life has a purpose, and you will be there to walk beside them and help them find that purpose.