My husband and I are Christians, meaning we are followers of Christ Jesus and strive to live according to His teachings. We both grew up in Christian households that shared similar foundational principles and, as a result, our beliefs have shaped our worldview, guide our thought processes, and influence our actions on a daily basis.
Before getting married — and long before children entered the picture — my husband and I talked about our overarching ideas and plans for raising any future children we might be blessed with. But, as when many things, parenting styles, goals, and philosophies tend to be more abstract until a little one is actually present.
Then it becomes real.
Figuring out our family values
Since becoming parents to our son, we have had numerous discussions on how to parent. Not just the when and how to discipline conversations, though it is very important for both parents and any additional caregivers (like grandparents) are all on board with the decided methods of discipline. No, we began talking about the far-reaching results — some might even say consequences — of certain parenting styles, attitudes, behaviors, etc. Then we compared our childhoods and our parents’ parenting styles with all of the positives and negatives we could recall.
Every time we had one of these deep, self-evaluating discussions, we found ourselves circling back around to very simple but crucial questions:
- How do we want to raise our children?
- What kind of childhood and home environment do we want to provide for them?
- What character traits do we want to nurture in our children?
- What kind of people do we want them to grow up to become?
- What parenting methods would achieve these goals?
In continuing my exploration into the idea of a heavenly home, I will attempt to share some of our answers to the above questions.
Our family’s focus
First and foremost, the type of childhood we desire for our children is one of joy, love, laughter, and learning in a home environment that is warm and nurturing.
To achieve that goal, we decided that we want to raise our children on the foundation of love. Deep, self-sacrificing, understanding, patient, resilient, courageous, unconditional love as modeled by Christ Jesus.
Out from this foundation of love grows other important character traits, such as respect for oneself and respect for others. We want our children to grow up with an understanding that, in spite of their flaws and mistakes, they are precious, valued, and loved for who they are as uniquely individual human beings.
Their worth and self-esteem is not based on what they do, how well they do it, how much they succeed or achieve, nor based on the opinions of others. That does not mean we will not have expectations for them, but we want to give them realistic expectations that encourage them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
By extension, we want to instill in them a respect for others as precious individuals. We want to demonstrate this love and respect every day in our interactions with each other, with our children, and with those outside our family.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”1 John 4:8, ESV
Why? Because God is love
We want to raise our children with the knowledge that God is love. We believe in a loving Creator who originally created this world perfect and intended for humanity to live perfect lives in peaceful harmony with Him, each other, and the nature around them. Because He is love, He did not create us as robots pre-programmed with a specific set of directives that must be followed.
He gave humanity the freedom of choice: free will. Because of free will, we each have the freedom to choose whether to love God and obey Him or not.
It is our hope that our children will come love God as we have but not out of fear or obligation or tradition. We desire for them to have an intelligent faith of their own and love God as a personal response to His love for them.
“We love because He first loved us.”1 John 4:19, ESV
From this love, they will choose to follow His example and apply His teachings in practical ways in their daily lives. All of the teachings of the Bible can be summarized in these two principles:
“And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” Matthew 22:36-40, ESV
In the future, I will share some of the specific character traits and values we hope to instill in our children.
Join the discussion
What are the principles that guide your parenting style and philosophy? What type of childhood are you aiming to give to your children?