I’m not a parent, so I’m always hesitant to write about parenting. On the other hand, I pay attention when I meet young people who have a strong relationship with their parents. In fact, I often ask them what made a difference in the way their parents raised them. Here are some of the primary things I’ve heard.
- Their faith was real. These parents were not one person in public and another in private. They were consistent and faithful. They almost oozed integrity about their Christianity.
- They said, “I’m sorry” when they were wrong. None of us is perfect, and all of us mess up at times—even with people we love. Saying “I’m sorry” is an act of honesty and humility that children seldom forget.
- They genuinely loved each other. Their love was both obvious and infectious. Their children always knew the safety of a home that was not likely to fall apart.
- They handled conflict in a healthy way. I grew up in a home with an angry father, but none of the young people I’m writing about today have told me that kind of story. Instead, they’ve spoken about how their parents lovingly dealt with their disagreements.
- They intentionally made their home fun. For example, they regularly opened their home for their children’s friends. They joked with them, fed them, and made them feel important. Their goal was that their children would always love their home.
- They never stopped praying with their children. Many parents pray with their children as long as they’re young, but they stop that practice as their kids get older. Not so with these parents, who most often continued to pray with their children even into adulthood.
- They made church a big part of their lives. And, they did so in such a way that their kids wanted to be a part. Seldom, if ever, did these children hear their parents negatively criticize their pastor and church.
- They prioritized their family. I’ve heard adult children say things like, “They were always there when we needed them,” “I always knew they’d love me even if I messed up,” “They made sure we knew the Bible,” and “They were fully present when we spent time together.”
What other characteristics would you add to this list?