The Messiness of Raising Children (Our Attempt)

Today is our oldest daughter’s birthday. It has hard to believe that 29 years ago, we had our first baby. Now Christine and her sister Jamie, are grown and have families of their own.

I recently thought about the years we were together as a family. We were all learning together. We certainly made lots of mistakes. However, as I think back to the many conversations Charlotte and I had about our children, this is what I recall:


1. We tried to establish consistent habits such as reading Bible stories at bedtime, praying together, and eating meals together.

2. We never wanted to put pressure on them because they were a minister’s children. We tried to communicate they were children of God, just like everyone else.

3. We talked about our faith and God at home. We did so as a part of our everyday lives.

4. We attempted to be consistent in what we taught our children through our words and actions.

5. We went on family vacations together. Some of the most signifiant conversations occurred late at night when one parent was driving while one of the children rode in the front seat.

6. We tried to communicate again and again, God’s care and concern for them. We did this each night when we put them to bed. Later we attempted to do this through notes, conversations and prayer.

7. We wanted our children to see that our lives did not center around them but around God. This can take enormous pressure off children. Rather, they see that we have a higher purpose outside ourselves.

8. We attempted to communicate basic godly virtues such as honesty, truth-telling, and patience.

Again, we did this imperfectly.


What has been important to you in raising your children?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “The Messiness of Raising Children (Our Attempt)

  1. Hello Jim, It’s been a long time,about your question on this blog, the most Important thing in raising my kids (I have 4 now), is teaching them to love and respect God and love and respect the life that was given to them and life of other people too.I thank you and all the people again for praying for me It’s my turn to pray for you all and your families.I also teach my kids to pray for all those who touched our lives too.

    • Kiarra, it is great to hear from you! (Four kids! That has to keep you busy!)

      Good for you regarding what you said about raising your kids. I like the way you put this:

      “…teaching them to love and respect God and love and respect the life that was given to them and life of other people too.”

      This is great! You are giving your children a great gift in teaching them to respect God, the life they have been blessed with, and other people. They are fortunate to have a mother who is willing to teach what is most important.

      Thank you so much for your prayers. Hope you will comment again soon.

  2. Jim

    Wonderful topic. My wife and I have two children, our son eldest child had muscular dystrophy and passed away two years ago shortly before his 20th birthday, our daughter now 19 is getting ready for college. So our raising of children was different in many ways, however there are some principles that looking back I would say shaped all of us and continue even more so today.

    1) Spent time with your children. My time was bath time with them. We would spend a minimum of an hour. It gave my wife some well deserved rest and it was the best transition time from work to home. The tradition of the bath tub was for me to make up stories while they played. It got to the point where we had a favorite character “Oscar the Turkey”, so each night we had a new adventure of what was Oscar up to next.
    2) Life is not fair; yet in the hand we are dealt God is with us. In our case we knew this was the case, but it becomes even more clear each day now. There is grace and blessing everywhere, but when you are in the thick of it the grace can be hard to see. That leads to….
    3) Patience. Gods and ours…. God knew what we were in and has revealed to us all the blessings in the hardships
    4) Honesty. It has always been a foundation in our home. We had to be honest with our children and demanded the same of us. It can be hard. I recall the exact moment when our son when he was six said, “I am going to die because of my disease”. We never gave him a false hope, or said don’t worry about it. We told him the truth.
    5) As a father, I took it upon myself to make sure we had a lot of smiles, my wife is a natural in this category, but dads I feel need to show kids examples of “good crazy”. Getting out of the car after work and jumping in the pool with your kids with your clothes on.
    6) Show … appropriate affection to your wife in all matters. They must see you hug and kiss and love. Then invite them in for a group hug and in that hug pray over the family. Family hugs and prayer are meant for each other. Take advantage of that.
    8) Night and morning prayer time with your children. My daughter, 19 still will not leave for school or the house without me praying for her before she leaves. Your children want you to pray for them.
    9) Be in a Bible study and let your children watch you study. I was very fortunate. I have been active in a Monday night Bible study for over 12 years. Each night when I got home and I put my son to bed he would always ask, what did you learn in Bible study. And we would spend a good hour talking about it.
    10) Be the house and family that all of your kids friends want to spend time there. One of our regular events and still is, is the fire pit. It got to the point where on almost every weekend my son’s friends would ask if we could have a fire pit that night. This went on from 4th grade and continues to this day. Yes even now some of my sons friends even though they are in college will come and sped a weekend with us. We always had a great mix of laughs and serious dialog. We earned the trust of the kids in our neighborhood and it was always a time to invite Christ into their lives.

    One last note… if possible make sure they know their grandparents… it is very important for both of them.


    • Walter, this is an outstanding list! Thanks for sharing this. You put a lot of thought and purpose into what you did as a parent.