Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1).
If you want your child to learn how to live in and enjoy wonderful relationships, your primary goal must be to show them the one who perfected relational living; He is Christ. You want them to be Christlike. Every Christian parent wants their child to be an authentic and maturing representation of Jesus, which leads to an important question: What is the most effective way to teach your child how to be like Jesus? You export your life to them. You must become a living, breathing, walking example of what you want your children to become.
Parents should not be parenting as much as they should be exporting their marriage relationship to their children. Truthfully, parents are exporting their marriage relationship to their children because there is no other option. The real question is, what is your marriage teaching your child about relationships?
Children spend nearly twenty years soaking in the lives of their parents while making determinations all along as to whether they want to emulate what they are absorbing. Living in a relationship is why the most effective parenting is not how to parent better but how to relate well to your spouse. Every spouse can display before their children how to effectively live with another sinner, and no sinner is closer to you than your spouse. The powerful impact of a stable marriage becomes your most effective training tool. Your children will observe you doing the very thing you want them to do as they create their future community constructs.
Your marriage is a visual expression of what it means to love God and someone else supremely (Matthew 22:36-40). If you have not been a good model of what it means to relate well with another person, specifically, you have not lived biblically well with your spouse; today is the day for you to change. Ideally, it is best for both spouses to repent mutually, but that is rarely the case. Usually, one spouse becomes more aware of the negative effect of their marriage on the children long before the other spouse. If you’re the only one willing to live an authentic Christian life before your children, I appeal to you to do it.
You must actively, daily, and practically live out what you want everyone in your home to be, including your wayward spouse. Give your child a good picture that will be different from any poor images in your home. Ask the Father to give you the grace and boldness to give your children that portrait. In a perfect world, both parents realize their imperfect exportation of Christ to their children. They see how it led to a confused and frustrating picture for their kids to emulate. This kind of parental failure motivates humble and broken parents to fix the marriage, but, as you know, we do not live in a perfect world.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).