Parenting is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work if you’re going to do it in an effective, God-honoring way.
“Purposeful Parenting” is a way of viewing your relationship in a proactive way rather than floating through your parenting role, dealing with things as they come up. You need to be keenly aware of what is really going on, on the inside of your child’s heart, thoughts and attitudes.
The Bible lays out patterns for us in regards to this, though it doesn’t speak directly to parenting in this fashion. Nevertheless, they are Biblical instructions and principles about relationships, therefore they apply to parenting as well. For example, Hebrews 3:12-13 says
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you, an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Notice that first phrase: “Take care”. Some translations of the Bible say “See to it”. Either way, this means that you have a responsibility, as a believer in Christ, to be proactive in the lives of your fellow Christians. So, when your fellow Christians are your own children, your responsibility is multiplied. You need to “see to it” regarding your kids!
So what does it take to accomplish this style of parenting? It takes ongoing conversations – true heartfelt concern. Ask heart level questions. Ask open-ended questions about what’s been going on in their thoughts, how they feel about a situation that you know has been going on at school. Don’t wait for a situation to blow up before you address it. By then, your child has already been dealing with it for some time internally and bad habits, wrong attitudes or even hard feelings toward God could be developing.
The passage also says to make sure that you don’t have a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from God. So we need to ask questions about faith. Don’t shy away from spiritual questions with your kids.
Finally, the passage says that we need to exhort one another daily. Too often, we perceive exhortation as a negative thing, full of harsh criticism. Actually, exhortation is simply spurring someone on toward a better direction. It’s raising your children’s sights to see things as God does.
Now, I know that this is difficult. And the more kids you have, the more difficult it is, as they each view and react to life differently.
It’s hard work, but using the approach of purposeful parenting, you can get into your kids’ hearts and find out what issues they are struggling with before they erupt into something more.