Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Parenting Resources

Last Sunday at church, we finished the 3-week parenting part of our family series from the book of Genesis at church. As I did with the marriage section, I thought it would be helpful to type out a list of resources that would guide parents who are seeking to grow and work through the challenges they are facing. I hope these various ideas and links will provide direction regardless of your circumstances.

1- Read a parenting book with a gospel-centered view of parenting. I would start with the two parenting books that have most influenced my view of the goal of parenting - Shepherding a Child's Heart and Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. The first book is more theological in nature and helps the parent build a philosophy of parenting built on the truths of the gospel. The second book if more practical in that Mr. Tripp works out what you need to teach your kids so that they view the Bible as part of their family history. The other book that has really shaped me as a parent is Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. I highly encourage you to wrestle with his premise that we should learn how to parent by studying how God parents us (in grace), not necessarily by what produces the quickest results in behavior change.

2- Go to a Christian family-camp during the summer. I have never taken my family here, but everyone who has gone always raves about the amazing impact this camp has on families. The camp is Pine Cove Family Camp. The closest location to Austin is Pine Cove Crier Creek (in between Austin and Houston). The week-long camp has family-time, parent-time, kid-time, and free time. The camps are staffed by high-quality college students, and the camp brings in well-known Christian speakers in to speak on biblical and family issues. The camps are expensive, but everyone who goes says it is worth it.

3- Plan a weekend retreat with your kids.
My kids always respond to time away from the routine of life when I am completely focused on them. This could look like a weekend away camping together, a day-trip to the lake, or doing something creative with the kids that would give you time to spend focused energy on them (not the movies).

4- Have a plan for daily devotionals with your family. Whether you simply read through the Bible with your kids every night or you read a good devotional book that gets you into the Bible together, the important issue is that you have a plan. Nothing happens on the devotional side by accident. You can use the devotional guides that our church provides for your family (check out the philosophy and resources at www.familytimes.org) or you can pick your own plan. The main goal is that you are getting in the Bible together as a family and that you are spending time worshiping God.

5- Meet with a mentor couple.
As a church, we are blessed with many spiritually-mature couples who are willing to sit down with you and share from their years of parenting experience. Barie and I have been blessed with great mentor-couples as a young couple in ministry. I would highly recommend that you email Nick Shock (our ministries pastor) if you think meeting with a mentor couple would be helpful to you.

6- Go to family counseling together.
I have referred families to many different Christian professional counselors over the years. If you need professional parenting help, please seek it. Don't buy into the lie that you should be ashamed of getting counseling. In Austin, I would recommend that you contact the Center for Relational Care which provides on-going professional counseling. As a second-choice, I would contact New Life Counseling Center in Round Rock.

7 - Check out additional resources and ministries online. There are so many great national ministries that focus their efforts on resourcing parents. One of my favorites is Family Life. You can check out a list of additional books, ministries, and resources on our church's website that our family ministry put together. These are all helpful in different ways.

My prayer for you is that you would not put your trust in these resources as a parent, but put your trust in God alone. We can always learn better parenting skills, but the key is to walk daily with God and stay on your knees interceding for your kids. Our kids belong to God, not to us, and our job is to daily point them back to Him as their Creator, Source, and Savior. May God richly bless you and sustain you in the journey of parenting!

Jeremiah 9:23-24

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