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The Skill of Parenting – Keeping Our Real Goals in Mind

It is interesting to watch parents playing simple games with their children. As I get older (and a little less fit) I realise that it is not always as easy to play at their level (if I do I am stiff for weeks afterwards) but believe it or not when they were smaller (and I might have been a little fitter) I needed to tone things down as I played with them.

The reason I toned things down is that it was not about me winning, but it was about us bonding together. Whatever it was we were playing there was lots of fun to be had but it also enabled me to share a sense of oneness with each of our children I was playing with at the time and this was important in their development and conducive to building mutual love between us.

But that did not mean that when I played with them I simply let them win. When a Father plays with his younger children he needs to take care not to swamp them. He doesn’t have to win, but he might well try hard. So when a child scores and claims points they still need to do so with their own effort and at the same time not be overwhelmed with frustration. Perhaps playing together is also about learning how to “win some and lose some” which is so important to their character building (and mine) and the building of ‘fair play’ that makes such interaction so valuable. They are having fun together but at the same time the children are being prepared, in a safe and loving context, for the cut-and-thrust of life.

So what does this have to do with God? As parents we must remember our goal. It’s a great privilege for boys and girls to grow up with the security and example of loving parents. We want them to understand that they are able to trust us and yet at the same time we want them to see that it is more important in the long run for them to be trusting in their heavenly Father. The Bible reminds us that we can enjoy knowing God as our Heavenly Father. By turning to God and trusting in Jesus we become His adopted children, greatly loved and cherished. We can share our joys and sorrows with Him through prayer. Of course God doesn’t play games with us, but He does want us to find our security in trusting Him.

God also wants us as parents to be preparing our children to know love and enjoy following God. So as parents as we interact with our children, youth and young adults we must remember that we must model and encourage a trust in God’s goodness and his plans and purposes for our life so that they might learn to do the same.