Finishing up the theme from yesterday, let me just dive right into the four final insights shared by Dr. Robert Lewis on Raising Spiritually Healthy Children.....
#5 - Customize your parenting to each child.
Our children are unique from each other and from us. We are foolish if we think there's such a thing as "one size fits all" parenting. Not the case at all. God made and wired each of our kids totally differently and this requires some insight and thoughtful parenting on our parts.
Here's where Robert got very specific and practical.
a) He said do not let your child get to be 13 without knowing their personality types. While there are numerous personality testing models out there, he specifically referred to one as old as the hills - the Hippocrates Personality Models. These have stood the test of time and are also simple enough to remember. Kyle and I googled Hippocrates Personality Test and found an online test that we did for ourselves and each of our children (excluding Dorien...although after going through the questions, even now, at the age of 2, we're pretty sure we've identified his personality type).
If you're curious...Every member of our family was different.
Kyle - Phelgmatic
Ashley - Choleric
Brooklyn - Sanguine
August - Melancholy
(We suspect Dorien will also be a choleric like his mommy...)
Just goes to show you that within a family, the array of personality differences can be mind-blowing. You need to know and understand not only yourself, but each of your children. This helps you interpret why you react a certain way to one child rather than another, and know how best to parent that particular personality type. Because what works for a sanguine will crash and burn with a melancholic.
(The one thing I dislike about this particular personality test is that all the types sound so negative....but what can you do? Hippocrates didn't ask my opinion).
Robert also recommended a book by Florence Littauer, Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself.
b) Have your children take an IQ test.
You may be dealing with a genius and not know it, and that will certainly affect things.
c) Have your children take a Design Test (and if you haven't already, do so for yourself).
This is something all men do when they go through Men's Fraternity, but it's not limited to men. In fact, I recently took this myself. There's a website called Your Unique Design that helps you identify your specific design - it costs $35 but gives you an incredibly detailed analysis of how God made you at the end of it. I highly recommend it.
d) Lastly, before your child goes to college, have them take an Aptitude Test. Find a center that offers testing of this type and invest in it. How much better to know in advance what our children are best suited for BEFORE they pursue a degree or career path for which they are completely unsuited.
#6 - Avoid the four horsemen of "Too Much".
- Too much control - up to age 12, we are our children's coaches. After age 13, the game changes and we need to shift into a more Cheerleader role. Not to say you're not continuing to provide clear boundaries and the resultant consequences when those boundaries are overstepped, but you have laid the foundation by age 13 so that you're now in a position to cheer them on when they make their own decisions.
- Too Much Money - Spoils and pacifies a child
- Too Much Expectation - push them to be good students, but don't set unrealistic, CRUSHING expectations
- Too Much MOM - (ESPECIALLY when it comes to sons...) up to age 12, be mushy and affectionate and loving to your sons, but after that age, step back and let them separate from you as they naturally should. Robert made it a point to say that he was in no way undermining the importance of Mom's or our roles in our children's lives, but he was quite clear on the absolute necessity of mother's letting go of their boys in order for them to develop in a natural, healthy way as MEN.
This is essential - otherwise we raise boys who seek out wives to mother them. Which causes those future wives to resent their husbands who don't act as godly husbands should. Even if it means telling your sweet boy to suck it up when things don't go his way on a sport's team - to toughen up in the face of opposition - as much as it may go against our natural instinct - do it. Love your boys by letting them become the MEN God intended for them to be.
This does not mean you don't still hug or show your son affection - it just means you make sure you're not cushioning them from life's blows. Those blows may be just the resistance God intends to chisel your sweet baby into a strong, godly MAN.
#7 - Spend lots of PERSONAL TIME (one on one) with your children.
Quality time is not programmable.
Again, squeeze out the ME - the greatest gift I'll ever give the world is my kids.
Robert emphasized the importance of dating your children. With no end date on that thought. Just because your children are grown, that's no reason you can't still have some quality one-on-one time with them. Call up your daughter and get her husband to watch the kids - take her out for some quality time with her Dad (or Mom). Get to know your kids by spending time with them.
#8 - Provide "Clear Gender Vision"
By the time our kids are age 13, we need to make sure they fully understand what a godly man or woman is designed to look like. This goes back to "Without a vision, the people perish." Substitute "man" or "woman" for "people". Our boys and girls need to have a clear idea of what they're striving towards.
This is particularly important for fathers and sons. In a world that increasingly blurs the definition of any gender at all, it's all that more important to defy those grey areas and help your sons see that God does have a clear picture for what a man is to be. And women, for that matter.
This clear gender vision also incorporates a clear picture of how God designed our bodies for sex and intimacy. By the time your kids hit puberty, take responsibility for teaching your kids God's view on this, not the world's.
Some specific resources Robert mentioned are...
Men's Fraternity (for a definition on manhood)
Something that makes this process more memorable is to celebrate milestones or rites of passage with special ceremonies. I know Robert Lewis' book, Raising a Modern Day Knight, addresses this for boys specifically, at ages 13, 16, 18 and 21. Robert suggests camping trips with other men and their sons as good opportunities to celebrate these rites of passage.
In summary, Robert mentioned something key that God did repeatedly for Jesus while He was on earth, something Robert referred to as "The Blessing". Over and over, during Jesus' time on earth, God appeared and said, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him..."
This blessing bestowed by God the Father onto His son can be broken down into three components:
1) I love you
2) I'm proud of you
3) You're good at these things___________
At all times during our children's lives, from small to grown, we as parents need to seek opportunities to bestow The Blessing on them. Obviously it need not be "This is my beloved son...." but just simply those three sentences above - What an affirmation for our children and how wise of us to follow in the clearly laid out footprints of the greatest Father the world has ever known.