Parenthood – Designing Kids for a Successful Launch
The Unchanging Principles of Parenting
What does it take to really launch a kid into life successfully? This is an important question!
Parents spend thousands of dollars on educational toys, computers with internet access, special schools, tutoring instructors, and help getting their kids ready for college. Others work hard getting their kids into sports activities, scouting functions, and summer camp experiences.
While none of these things are bad. None of them are a substitute for what changes a child’s life and sets them up for a successful launch into life AND into eternity!
That takes something much simpler and much more important than any of these things. Let me draw from the wisdom and teaching of the most important and significant teaching on this subject. I do not refer to Dr. Spock of the 50’s nor do I refer to the founder of the Montessori approach to training children. This teacher is not the author of Baby Wise or any of the books currently on the NY Times Best seller list or the Amazon Top authors list. This teacher didn’t even write a book… He just changed our world forever.
His name is Jesus. Let’s read together from the good news according to Mark.
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
One of my favorite images and impressions of Jesus is of him playing with children and throwing his head back with laughter.
This is not the way we usually think of Jesus. Somber, serious, eyes focused far off, and appearing to be thinking profound thoughts – this is how we generally think of Jesus.
Mark gives us a whole different perspective of the Lord of the Universe doesn’t he? Mark pictures a guy who loves children and models for us what it takes to really impact a kid’s life.
Notice three critical components.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them…”
haptomai (hap’-tom-ahee); to attach oneself to, embrace or touch.
We’re talking about hugging here – people!
Kids in the U.P are often called a term of endearment that threw me the first time I heard it. In fact, I had a mental/audio double take when a mother looked down at her child and said, “Here’s my little lover!”
Wow – isn’t that the best description you ever heard for a kid though? Especially when they are sleeping! It’s a little tougher to attach that title to a kid covered in mud and digging through your flower bed – but the rest of the time it really fits.
Children are lovers and they need to be touched and held. It has been shown and proven that babies that are not held will simply die. Children that are forced through war or abandoned because of economic forces grow up to be psychologically impaired. They have many different problems – because no one touched them – physically or emotionally.
Various experiments have shown that touch can:
Make us feel better about ourselves and our surroundings
Have a positive effect on childreen’st language development and IQ
Cause measurable physiological changes in the toucher and the touched
Kathleen Keating, “Hug Therapy Book”
Feels good, Dispels loneliness, Overcomes fears, Opens
doors to feelings, Builds self-esteem, Slows down aging, Helps curb appetite – we eat less when nourished by hugs and our arms are busy when wrapped around others, Eases tension, Fights insomnia, Keeps arm and shoulder muscles in condition, Provides stretching exercise if you are short, Provides stooping exercise if you are tall
...Offers a wholesome alternative to promiscuity
Offers a healthy save alternative to , Alcohol and other drug abuse (better hugs than drugs), Affirms physical being,
...Is democratic: anyone is eligible for a hug, Is ecologically sound, does not upset the environment, Is energy-efficient, saves heat, Is portable, Requires no special equipment, Demands no special setting; any place from a doorstep to an executive conference room, from a church foyer to a football field, is a fine place for a hug!
...Makes happy days happier, Makes impossible days possible. Imparts feelings of belonging, Fills up empty place in our lives,
...And keeps on working to dispense benefits even after the hugs release!
This need does not diminish as the children get older. It changes but it does not diminish.
When they are little the touching is physical – and of course, I’m talking about appropriate touching. I speak of the times you lay on the couch and hold your children while you read a book or share a movie. I’m talking about a rough house time of pillow fights, tickle battles, or horsy rides – all of which I have done and none of which can I do much of any more.
As children get older the need for appropriate touch dramatically increases for girls during preteen years. Girls are touched in loving appropriate ways five times as often as boys.
For boys the need for loving touch is still there but it changes – it’s not about being touched – it’s about being slugged, bumped and arm wrestling. It’s about being guys with your dad.
Girls who grow up without the appropriate expressions of love will often seek that in inappropriate ways – parents – you know what I’m talking about!
Boys who grow up without the appropriate expressions of love will often express it in anger and rebellion.
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me…”
Now I know that some of you here this morning wonder if your kids will ever grow up. You are in the puppy stage of raising kids. Yes they can be cute but they chew up everything in your house and your car upholstery is covered in melted Crayola, the foot wells are soaked in a mixture of pepsi and formula – which makes for an amazing aroma – and to take a 15 minute trip across town requires a 45 minute workout locating clothes, diapers, diaper bag, and a 113 other necessary items.
I know it’s difficult to believe now but they will soon be driving the car that is now ankle deep in stale animal crackers.
What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14
As your kids get older the touches become less physical and more emotional. Your time with them becomes more and more important. One of the myths of raising children successfully that I would like to dispel here and now is that little kids take a lot of time and that big kids can take care of themselves.
Wrong – Little kids demand a lot of time and big kids need a lot of time. Big difference! Huge difference!
I want to encourage you this morning – especially you dad’s – spend time with your kids – abundant time.
Now what does “abundant” time mean. Well to me it means – rich, lavish, luxurious time. When you spend time with your kids – make it rich and thick!
Carolyn Mahaney talks about the importance of
Taking interest in…
Giving unconditional love and acceptance!
Something I used to do every Saturday morning was to take one of my girls out to breakfast. Not all of them – just one. One week it would be Shannon’s turn. Another week it would be Sandi’s turn. As Susan got old enough she would get her turn.
We’d go to Bob Evans and they could get what ever they wanted on the breakfast menu and we’d have a great time. It was so much fun that when my girls came home from college they would almost always ask if we could go out for breakfast on Saturday morning.
You know I’d like to start doing that pretty soon with my Grandchildren – I think I will…
Let me say something here. In every community of believers there are some kids who – no fault of theirs – don’t have anyone to spend some abundant time with them. Some of us older guys need to pick up some of that slack…
The Mighty Men of Meridian are planning a fishing day soon… If you don’t have someone to take fishing – let me know I’ll connect you with some young children who could use some abundant time! You can turn a kids world around for them in just a couple of hours.
And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
God blessed his son when he was baptized, And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matt 3:17
When you bless someone you speak well of them.
Sometimes you bless a person directly by speaking to them about them. Sometimes you bless a person by speaking to others about them in their presence. Sometimes you bless a person be speaking to other about them and they unknowingly overhear what you say – that’s really cool!
It is important as your kids grow that you bless them in all three ways. Consistently on a regular basis but also in special ways.
Let me make a suggestion to you this morning – Dad’s: plan now for your daughter’s first date. Mom’s you can do the same with your son. You might wait until he’s 16 so you can let him drive.
I took both of my older daughters on their first dates when they turned 13… I remember both very well. They remember details that I do not.
What I remember about my date with Sandi was our conversation at the restaurant before we went to the movie.
One of the best ways to start meaningful discussions is to ask open ended questions.
Well, I asked four open ended questions. First, you’re 13 now and you are becoming a woman. What do you think about this change in your life? Second, Intellectually you are growing too. How are you doing in school? Third, How about your emotional life – Do you have an boys you like? Tell me about them. Finally, Spiritually, How are you and God getting along?
When I asked the fourth question she burst into tears and with a little prompting she told me that she had been thinking about accepting Jesus as Lord but Shannon had been pushing her so she had been resisting the idea… It all kind poured out. We talked. We prayed. Sandi was baptized into Jesus a week later.
Give your children words of blessing and encouragement.
And by the way the need for this blessing never ends. I got an email from my mother this week that was a blessing from her to me. It meant a lot. Thanks mom.
Children are a gift from the LORD; babies are a reward.
Children who are born to a young man are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Happy is the man who has his bag full of arrows.
This morning some of the parents are going to dedicate several babies to God. While those parents are getting their kids the rest of us will worship a bit.
If you have children in the – preschool years I’d like to invite you to come up to the front so I can pray with you.