Yesterday, my sister-in-law and my niece rode with us to school. Before we left our home, my kids prayed, as they always do. My son prayed for the safety of his mother, who was away on business, while my daughter prayed for the family’s day ahead. My sister-in-law prayed for our father-in-law, who is in the hospital sick. Her daughter, who I’m sure loves to pray but was probably shy that day to pray with others, agreed with us, and it set the tone for the day ahead.
My wife and I work very strategically and intentionally to create a culture of prayer in our home, because we acknowledge that an active prayer life is one of the best weapons in every Christian’s arsenal, so to speak. But this is only one of many things that parents can influence on their children. While they can always learn this outside the home, there is something very powerful about the example and vision-casting that a parent brings into a child’s life. Here are three areas you can really impact on your kids:
- Character and Values. A Christian can present all kinds of exteriors to the world, but only one’s spouse, children, and God Himself knows the full extent of a person’s character. We could be the sweetest, kindest people in the eyes of the world, but behind our closed doors and four walls, our kids and spouses know who we really are. Your values will reflect on your child, and if you speak good values, like godliness, respect, integrity, perseverance, and excellence, you are equipping your child with great tools for the future.
- Prayer. I always notice that people tend to pray like the people who discipled them. The same applies in the family setting. If your children see you praying, they will pray. How you pray, how often you pray, and the quality of your prayers will influence how they pray. I am so humbled yet proud of my 12-year-old Nathan, who is a veritable prayer warrior. Ever since he was a boy, both he and his sister have been encouraged to pray, but this young man does not hesitate to pray for people, especially in the areas of provision and healing. (I myself love to pray for people’s healing, so I think that may have rubbed off on him. But he’s such a provision prayer warrior!)
- Love. A recent study showed that arguing parents impair their children’s development. Likewise, another study showed that parental warmth is crucial to a child’s well-being. I think it’s safe to say that children who grow up in a home where the parents clearly love and are intentionally affectionate with each other (especially if expressed in all love languages–physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time) will want to create a similar home environment for their spouses and family.
What about you? What are some things that you feel children can learn best from their parents?