“My parents have always stimulated me!” “My parents were always there for me.” “My parents could always make it fun, even if we had little.”     

Do you recognize that? I regularly come across the question in interviews what people received from their parental home, their parents or their upbringing. Wonderful things about respect, care for neighbor, trust, rock-solid faith, security, openness, freedom … In other words, all praise! Then I think, wow! Those parents managed to do all that! How??? And immediately afterwards the question: What will my children say about me, and about their upbringing? Are they happy with what they have received? What have they been given anyway? Am I a good parent ??? Help!        

When I look back to my own upbringing, one of the things that I ‘ve been given, is that the world is bigger than our living room. There is a lot of misery in the world and a large part of the people live in poverty. So complaining and throwing food away was not done ! And I realize that I am now also allergic to it. Don’t come to me saying the meatballs are small or that we’re eating string beans again! But the other side was also prominent: roll up your sleeves and help where you can! So, for example we sent  goods to missionaries and we gave money to charity. Share what you have, wholeheartedly, with love and generously. Be grateful for what you have and give what you can. Wonderful lessons that I also want to live out to my children. And that’s just it, right, in being a role model for living the good life.

We parents and educaters have a very important duty! The task of “modeling life”. And so much has already been written about the “modelling function” of parents! Its importance and effect has long been proven. Yet we are not always aware of our own behavior and what we unintentionally role model and thus teach our children. The Dutch have a saying: “A good example leads to good to follow”, but that also has a downside …      

No doubt we will all agree that we want our kids to excel in their behavior, right? But then we must also be honest: parenting starts with yourself! I read this statement somewhere: “Improve the world, start with the parents!” And that is so very true!    

In Proverbs 22: 6 we can read the famous Bible verse about raising children and I love the addition in the Amplified Bible!     

Train up a child in the way he should go ( teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents ), even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (AMP) 

Our mission is to practice, train, teach and show our children how to live their lives. How to seek and discover God’s wisdom and will for their lives. How they can live meaningful lives in the service of God, so that they can receive all that God has put into life. Not to collect pats on the back, but in serving the other. Wow, that’s quite something! Such a responsibility!    

I came across the following significant statements from Charles Spurgeon that relate to this:     

Mothers , the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. ” 

Train up a child in the way he should go – but be sure you go that way yourself .” 

Children need to have exemplary people in their lives, role models, at every stage of their development! People who live out the good example, the good life, so that they can learn it themselves.   

This is not for parents only, it also applies to teachers, pedagogical employees, youthleaders etc.  

Especially in these complicated, confusing times where socials have such a big influence and very young children are already glued to their cellphones (but I will not elaborate on that right now). And that requires a sacrifice from us! It is so important to invest in our children! To give them our time and real attention, not to mention our prayer!           

I am grateful for the promise that is in that one verse from Proverbs … learned young is done old, what we sow will yield a harvest. And hallelujah we don’t have to go it alone!!! Every day I pray for wisdom! * Because HELP, I can’t do it on my own! And fortunately, we don’t have to do it on our own! First of all, we have our Heavenly Helper, but we can also ask each other for help, to think along, to pray and even to fight beside you. We are given to each other! We need each other! “It takes a village to raise a child ”               

We have quite a few challenges in our family. That is why we have made a very conscious choice to gather people around us who pray for us. And to choose to pray together for our family every day. That may sound logical, but we didn’t do that for a long time. I always go to bed earlier, and we don’t get up at the same time, so when can you have that time together to pray? We really had to search for it and then commit to it. Even when we are tired, have no energy, or simply don’t feel like it, because it is our pressing duty !      

But what does that live life look like in practice? I can hear you ask ☺ Well, I’ll talk about that next time!  

* “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Jam. 1: 5 (NIV)    

by Sandra van den Ouden