This is one of the most important things you will ever do. It is more important than any career or job you pursue. You need to take communication with your kids very seriously, but also have fun! With most things in life, if you mess up you can go back and redo it; it is different with your children. If you wake up and realize, when your kids are out of high school, that you didn’t do such a great job, you can’t go back and fix it. That’s not to say that you can’t go back and make amends for mistakes of the past, but you can’t redo your children’s childhood.
I remember trying to explain this to a guy who belongs to a spiritual group that I participate in. He had grown children of his own. My family was in the midst of a financial storm and I had mentioned a trip that we were taking, as a family. He tried to make me feel guilty for taking a vacation, when I owed other people money. I attempted to explain to him about the limited time that we have with our children while they are young and that I would still owe the money and can pay it later. He didn’t understand but I know that I made the right decision.
Understand “Generational Curses.” When you began this program, you may have been suffering under what is called a “generational curse”xxi. Before I go any further, let’s understand what I mean by a “generational curse.” It is clear that God does not punish people for their parent’s sinsxxii. It is also clear though, that your children will struggle with the same things that you struggle with, unless you do something about it. It’s up to you to break the negative cycle of your family, past and present.
“Our parents are the victims of their parents’ ignorance. Unless we learn to think differently, our children will be the victims of our ignorance.”xxiii In other words, if you struggle with organization, it is very likely that your children will also be disorganized, unless you take real, concrete steps to correct this problem. This has very little to do with spirituality and absolutely nothing to do with God; it is simply learned behavior. A child looks to his parents for guidance. The behaviors that he witnesses become “normal” to him. I remember growing up in a larger family that consumed a lot of alcohol. As a child and for most of my life, I believed that excessive drinking was normal behavior and that everyone did it. Obviously, I found out later that not every family exhibited this behavior, but for a long time I was blind to the truth.
So how do you break a “generational curse” and avoid passing it on to your children and instead shower your kids with “generational blessings?” It’s really quite simple. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is simple. The first thing to do, is to recognize the re-occurring behaviorsxxiv. Once you have done this, you need to change those behaviorsxxv. Most importantly, ask God for help and He will help youxxvi. By doing these things, along with everything else you are learning in this program, you will be able to overcome the challenges of the past and begin to form a brighter future for yourself and your children.
The first thing you need to do is to choose “generational blessing”: “this day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”xxvii
Next, realize that your words and actions of today, no matter how significant or insignificant will echo for generations to come. I am reminded of a story that I came across several years ago. The story is about 2 men. Both men lived in the 1700’s. The first man, Max Jukes, was an immoral man and a moonshiner. He chose not to go to church and married a woman with similar character. The second man, Jonathan Edwards, was a God loving minister who is said to have started the Great Awakening by his teachings. He also married a woman with character similar to his own.
What’s not surprising is the path their descendants took through life. Max Jukes had 1,026 descendants. Of these, 300 died prematurely, 100 were sent to prison, 190 were prostitutes and 100 were alcoholics. On the other hand, Jonathan Edwards had 729 descendants. Of these, 300 were preachers, 65 were college professors, and 13 were authors.
Do you see the connection? I hope so. What you say and do with your children matters more than most people will ever realize.
In addition to everything covered in the “Communication With Other People” section, you should also do the following, while keeping in mind the importance of what you are doing. Remember, “train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”xxviii
- Empower your kids. Empower them to be successful, confident and competent. Make sure they know how to navigate in this crazy place, we call the world. There are many things you can do to help them. The most important of these is to lead by example. Your children will learn from your cues. For example, don’t tell your kids about how bad “junk food” is, while you’re stuffing your face with donuts. Not only will the message fail to register, but if this behavior continues, as they get older, they will begin to see you as a hypocrite.
- Teach your kids everything you can. Your kids are looking to you for guidance. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but they are. You have an incredible opportunity to teach them, so use the chance wisely. Remember, your children are looking for a role model; someone to follow and respect. You should be the one to fill that
role. If you don’t fill it, they will fill it for themselves. Don’t let Tiger Woods or some other misguided figure from Hollywood or the sports-world fill that void. You fill the role and there won’t be a void.
- Teach your kids about the world. Teach them as much as you know. If you don’t know something that you need to teach them, learn it with them. Make sure that you teach objectively and without bias. Teach them that sometimes there are choices to make and sometimes there aren’t. For example, teach them that in order to be healthy, they must eat their vegetables. They can choose however, whether to eat broccoli or spinach. Maybe you don’t like vegetables; don’t let that bias have an impact on their eating habits. Also, teach your kids about things you may think they are learning somewhere else. I routinely teach and practice with my kids things you would expect them to learn in school. I have decided not to leave math, reading, science or any other subject I think is important up to the school system. It is my responsibility. My kids are above average and doing work that exceeds their grade level. I am sure you can make the connection.
- Encourage them to try something new. This will help them to define their own direction and help them to figure out what they were created to do. Let them try new things in several different areas, such as: sports, music, hobbies and other interests. The more positive experiences they have, the more likely they are to find their life’s purpose. Also, teach them about new things they shouldn’t be trying, such as sex or drugs. Encourage them to seek your guidance, before trying something they are unsure of.
- Teach you kids about Godxxix. If you struggle in this area yourself, maybe they can teach you. Children have an innocence about them that allows them to understand a simple topic, such as God, that has been so complicated by the world. Read your Bible together. Pray together. Go to church together. Some of the best times we have together, as a family, is when we are praying, studying God’s word or when we are actually applying His word in our lives. We run the Sunday School Program at our church and our son has helped since he was in kindergarten. As our daughter gets older she will help too. Both of our kids help with our high school ministry work. Yes, they are much younger than the high school kids but they are still able to offer so much. If you need to, find God together.
- Teach your kids about success. Teach them what it is. Teach them how to get it. Use this program as a
guide. Allow them to learn the difference between real success and the world’s version of success. Point out the differences between the success you enjoy in your life and the false success celebrated by others. Also, point out, whenever possible, examples of people choosing what they think success is. As a parent, you are the most powerful influencer of your child’s current and future behavior. As I said earlier, set an example! When your children see real success in your life, they begin to understand it. When they see the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”xxx leading to good things in your life, they will develop a concrete meaning of success. You will be inviting your children into a way of life that will sustain them and allow them to thrive, long after they leave home.
Michael at R2W
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