Parents as Perpetual Students
Family shepherds model their parenting style after the Shepherd described in Psalm 23. David, the author of Psalm 23, tells us that his Shepherd “makes him lie down in green pastures” and “leads” him “beside still waters.” The word used for “lead” means “to lead someone helpless and needing guidance, to lead by the hand.” Our Shepherd knows that we, His sheep, are helpless; so, He takes us by the hand to lead us to places of nourishment, rest, and safety. The Shepherd knows the needs of His sheep and how to best provide for those needs, even when His sheep do not know or understand.
As family shepherds, we need to lead our children in a similar manner. We need to take them by the hand and lead them to places of nourishment, rest, and safety…especially when they are helpless or do not fully understand or realize what they truly need. That means we have to become students of our children’s life and world. Here are some topics worthy of our study.
· Family shepherds study their children’s unique needs. Each child has unique needs in regard to rest, nourishment, alone time, and family time. Sometimes our children get so caught up in play that they forget to rest or eat. They become “cranky” with hunger or tiredness. They become irritable without time alone or lonely and moody without time with friends or family. Even as teens, our children may have a tendency to “overbook” and become overwhelmed and stressed. We need to become students of our children to learn about their limits so we can lead them in a proper balance of rest, nutrition, and activity. As they grow, they can support them in discovering how to balance those limitations more independently.
· Family shepherds learn about their children’s day. They gain knowledge about when their children get up and when they go to bed. This may sound strange, but, nonetheless, it is necessary in today’s world. We need to know that our children actually go to sleep at bedtime rather than begin a marathon text session with friends that can last into the wee hours of the morning. I meet many teens who stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning texting friends, playing video games, or watching TV. This, then, interferes with their school performance, social interaction, and physical health. Parents (family shepherds) monitor these activities and prevent them from interfering with their child’s rest. They create environments that promote healthy sleep. This may mean removing obstacles to healthy night time rest (such as TV’s and X-Box’s) from the bedroom. It may also mean keeping cell phones and IPods in the kitchen after an agreed upon time. Learn about this technology and how it can interfere with night time rest.
· Family shepherds learn about their child’s daily activities as well. When their children go out, they find out where they are going. They learn about the places that their children frequent. They may even visit the places their children frequent and get to know other people who go there. Family shepherds may participate in many of their child’s activities throughout the day as well. Of course, children will have activities that they engage in alone. Still, family shepherds participate in many activities with their children. They may participate by actual involvement or by simply observing their child’s participation. Either way, their children learns that their parents are part of their life and their world, likely to show up at any activity or place that they frequent.
· Family shepherds learn about their children’s world. Parents become acquainted with their children’s friends and the parents of those friends. They get to know the teachers and coaches involved in their children’s lives. They observe what interests their children and learn about those interests so they can promote a healthy involvement and growth in areas of interest.
Family Shepherds (parents) are perpetual students. We continually invest time in learning about our children.