Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 13:20 ESV
This is one lesson I truly want my children to understand when choosing friends. We have conversations with our girls every day about what happens at school, who they’re playing with, etc. We watch carefully who the parents are, what they’re up to in their personal life, and what types of kids the girls are hanging out with. Then we gently speak about the types of people we want them (our girls) to be. We remind them of this lesson and that the more they choose wisely, the more they’ll benefit from it and the more their choices can honor God not just today, but every day of their young lives.
One very simple way to remind the girls who God desires them to be, is to use our last name and say “A (insert last name) is…” and then we fill in with “kind, loving, wise, etc.” (Use your family values here, or quote from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7) We then remind them that we are a family that has chosen to follow God all the days of our lives, no matter what everyone else is doing. Sometimes we stand alone, just the four of us, and that’s okay.
We also speak to the girls about what type of man they should be looking for to marry. We speak specifically about certain qualities and what the family unit might look like – a loving set of parents/guardians, someone who loves God, attends church, is active in their community, respects other people on the playground (our girls are only 5 and 7, so we adjust to their age group to keep it relevant) etc.
These conversations take no more than about 10 minutes a day on our end and can happen over the course of the day. We let them come about organically as the girls share things with Anthony and I. If I’m the one they choose to share things with, I make sure Anthony has a chance later to respond to the big questions they’ve had. This way, they get both gender’s input and we work as a team, validating each other and solidifying our family unit’s value system. We’ve seen much fruit from our labors, which began at each of the girls’ births. (We whipped out our Bibles and read to them within the first few hours of birth and prayed over their little bodies that God would keep them in His hands all the days of their lives.)
I’m daily amazed at how God is working in our family, especially in our girls’ lives.
What I’ve learned through parenting is that it’s not necessary to plant a whole tree in one day, or to even sit and watch that tree grow intently without ever looking away. Parenting is like planting a seed, watering it, nurturing it and caring for it over time. It grows slowly, may branch off into odd directions, and will definitely need pruning from time to time. When the tree is fully grown, if it’s been nurtured well, will be lush and tall and beautiful. Your community will be able to benefit from the fruits of the tree – from the fruit of your labor. Dear parents, you toil not in vain. You plant seeds not in vain. You – community of Believers are planting an entire beautiful forest. Toil on! One day we will all benefit from the fruit of our labors.
Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for the gift of a new day. Thank You for the blessing of our beautiful children. Even when we are tired, discouraged or feeling overwhelmed, help us to plant seeds of wisdom, hope and love in our children. Help us to teach them to love You, love their neighbor and to respect themselves and their community. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.