“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
When your child leaves your home, what kind of person do you hope they’ll be?
Your answer will determine—or should determine—how you parent. As my pastor (who’s also my husband) likes to say, “The best way to parent is with the end goal in mind.”
Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus grew in wisdom” (mentally), “stature” (physically), “in favor with God” (spiritually) “and man” (socially). Healthy children mature in all four areas of life.
Raising a child is a monumental undertaking. The sheer scope of the task requires more than any one person can provide. The most influential person in a child’s life is his or her parent(s), but in order to develop an emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually healthy child, it takes more than you; it takes a community around you and your child.
Here are 10 people your child needs in his or her life, other than you.
1. An Encourager
Everyone wants an encourager in his or her life, but a child requires an encourager. A child’s sense of self, as well as his or her place in the world, is formed largely by whether or not they receive encouragement during their formative years. But not just any type of encouragement will do.
People who spout generic platitudes like, “you can be anything you want to be, if you work hard enough” won’t be sufficient. Your child needs a person who notices, and champions, their unique giftedness. An encourager speaks life into your child’s abilities, character, and possibilities. An encourager boosts your child’s confidence, and gives your child freedom to try new things. An encourager believes in your child, even when he or she faces temporary setbacks.
Who is an encourager in your child’s life? If your child doesn’t have one, be one. Then pray for other encouragers to come into his or her life.
2. A Challenger
On the opposite end of the spectrum, but equally vital for your child’s emotional, personal, and spiritual health, is a challenger. A challenger motivates your child to do more, try more, and be more. A challenger will stretch your child beyond their comfort zone, which means challengers won’t always be his or her favorite person–initially.
A challenger could be a teacher who expects just a bit more effort than your child is used to giving, or a coach who demands a little more commitment than he or she has previously devoted. Whatever their position, a challenger raises the bar. They don’t make things easy, but they do help your child grow.
This is why parents must resist the urge to rescue their child from a challenger. Is there a difference between a challenger and a critic? Of course. But don’t be too quick to step in just because your child complains, or cries “not fair!” If you do, you may thwart the progress they can make under the tutelage of a challenger.
3. A Spiritual Mentor
Parents everywhere agree on the importance of a good teacher. They pay big bucks for a good coach, music teacher, or academic tutor. We did, and I’ll bet you do, too. But far too many parents forget about the necessity of a godly spiritual mentor.
Case in point: most parents wouldn’t dream of having their child miss several weeks of soccer practice or dance lessons, but the same parents don’t give missing church for weeks a second thought. Is it any wonder we’ve raised a generation of kids who believe God has little relevance to their life?
They didn’t come to this conclusion in a vacuum.
To become a whole person, your child needs a godly guiding influence in his or her life (someone in addition to you). It could be a Sunday school teacher, a youth leader, or a godly grandparent. A spiritual mentor is anyone who guides your child to love and obey God. Every child—yours included—needs at least one.
4. A Positive Opposite-Sex Role Model
Children learn best not by what they’re told, but by what they see and experience up close and personal. If you have a daughter, she needs to see strong, godly, kind men. If you have a son, he needs to see strong, godly, kind women.
Your child’s interaction with people of the opposite sex will affect how they view relationships, commitment, gender, and their own worth.The importance of providing positive opposite sex role models can’t be overlooked or underestimated.
How do you make this happen, especially if your immediate or extended family doesn’t provide the positive role model your child needs? Find a church filled with loving people. Befriend healthy, loving families or individuals who can be a role model for your child. Choose your friends based on what kind of influence (positive!) they will be in your child’s life.
5. Positive Same-Sex Role Models
Positive same-sex role models are just as important as positive opposite-sex role models. Why? Because boys learn to be emotionally, spiritually and relationally healthy men in the company of emotionally, spiritually and relationally healthy men. Girls learn to be emotionally, spiritually, and relationally healthy women in the company of emotionally, spiritually, and relationally healthy women.
Your child needs positive role models they can observe, interact with, and emulate. It’s not enough to admire someone from afar. Make sure your child rubs shoulders with someone of his or her gender that embodies the type of person you hope your child will become. This can be an older teen, a young adult, or even a neighbor, teacher, or coach. Maybe you’ll want to introduce your child to a person who is passionate about your child’s passion. Let your child see how they do life. Lifelong lessons are caught, not taught.
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SOURCE: Crosswalk, Donna Jones