“Children inspire in me a sense of wonder. God created each of us uniquely, designed to change the world for good.” – Mandi Hart
My family and I went on a road trip through Zimbabwe a few years back. Little did I expect that this trip would change the way I think about raising influential kids and being an intentional parent. The trip would make me realize my kids wanted to change the world, and that their generation has the ability to do so.
We booked accommodations at an old game farm. You could see remnants of care here and there, but now all that remained was a run-down chalet with hardly any game to view. What struck us was a sign on a wall that read, “Let it not be said of you that this place was better before you came.”
I reread the sign and thought about it, to the point where I realized it is a call to us as people in Christ’s kingdom. We can leave this world better than we found it. And it starts with you and me.
How to Raise Influential Kids Who Want to Change the World
Raising children to impact the world for good is no small feat. If we are to raise influential kids and release world changers, it requires being an intentional parent, having focus, and, most of all, accepting God’s empowering ability and grace.
1. Begin With the End in Mind.
It takes a very intentional parent to think about your child’s future, but remember: You are raising someone else’s possible husband or wife, mother or father. Think about the kind of man or woman you will release in a couple of years. What type of person would you like them to become? Think about it, cast a vision for your family, and then parent in that way.
2. You Are Your Child’s First Role Model. Be the Kind of Person You Would Want Them To Become One Day.
Your children are counting on you to say what you mean and mean what you say. Your children are not looking for a perfect parent in all they do and say, but they are looking to you for guidance. As an adult, we can cultivate self-awareness and journey towards personal health and wholeness. Keep on learning and growing. Your integrity and commitment to growth speak volumes to your children.
3. Understand the Times You and Your Children Are Living In and Respond With Wisdom.
Just as the men of Issachar understood and interpreted the times knowing what Israel should do (see 1 Chronicles 12:32), we too can parent from that place. But, how do we do it practically? One way is to understand the generation your children are living in and what influences their lives. Read up about Gen Z, the Alpha Generation, and more. Wisdom, knowledge, and discernment come from God. Ask Him to give it to you as you raise influential kids and potential world changers. James 1:5 encourages us with these words: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
4. Become Great at Asking Questions.
Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” As your child grows up and your parenting style adapts, one of the greatest skills we can cultivate is the ability to ask a good question. This skill not only boosts your parenting ability but can also help you in all areas of your life.
Did you know that Jesus used this style of teaching more than any other? He is the Master of questions. A well-thought-out question has the potential to produce both self and God-awareness and aids active learning as we parent our children towards maturity.
5. Pray for Them.
Praying for your children from when they are in your womb is a powerful way to hear God’s heart for them, to intercede for their lives and growth. Since my children were toddlers, I’ve prayed about every aspect of their lives, even for their potential future spouses. Now in their late teens, I continue to trust the Lord to guide their life choices. My prayers over the years have changed as they faced various challenges. But, this one thing I do know: Prayer is a super-power, and God loves my children even more than I do. When I pray, I can experience His heart for them and partner with the Holy Spirit as we raise them.
6. Parent From a Place of Love, and Not Fear.
It is said that we cannot function out of love and fear at the same time. These two cannot co-exist in the same place in our brains. I believe that’s why the Scriptures speak to us so much about not giving in to fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 exhorts us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We can parent out of a place of love, power, and have a sound mind. Love is expansive, responsive, discipline-orientated, and generous, whereas fear isolates us, is reactive, and often involves punishment.
7. Learn the Art of Discipline.
Discipline and parenting go hand-in-hand, but unfortunately, many parents don’t truly understand what it means. To discipline your children is to guide, correct and train, not punish them for past wrongs. It involves consequences, consistency, and, most of all, a heart of restoration. When we discipline our children appropriately, our relationship with them grows because discipline is a sign of love.
8. Build in Intentional Talk-Time With Your Children.
It’s so easy to spend time engaging with toddlers, but as your children enter middle school or the teens years, it not always so easy to hear what’s going on in their lives. In Parenting World Changers, I express my thoughts this way, “Intentional conversations, short or long, unlock doors into your child’s heart. These discussions provide insight into the deep wells of your children’s life. They offer you a view into their struggles, hopes, and current condition. Without intentionality, your children will not necessarily share things with you. It’s up to you to draw them out by taking time to listen and offering a patient ear. If parents don’t talk about delicate and controversial topics with their children, they risk that their kids form their own opinions. At every age, you can have beautiful heart conversations with your children.“
9. Intentionally Live Out Your Value System.
Values are those intangible traits in our lives, our inner beliefs. They are aspects like our principles, our judgment of what is important in life, our ‘heart.’ The intangible aspect of our inner belief guides us into how we live our life because it shapes how we behave. Our personal and family values shape our decisions. We live from the inside out. Our thoughts become our words, which then, in turn, become our actions. Your lifestyle didn’t happen by chance. It is the result of your constant choices. Choose your values wisely and express them outwardly, especially when your children are young.
10. Parent With Courage and Integrity.
We need the courage to follow our convictions and values, which isn’t always easy. Courage is doing something that frightens one. Sometimes parenting can be scary. We also need integrity because you want to be the kind of mother or father who is consistent in your words, actions, and principles. Integrity is the vital ingredient here as our lives need to match up with the words we profess. We want to be intentional parents as we raise influential kids and release kids who want to change the world.
At the end of the day, the way we steward the lives God has entrusted to us will reap wonderful rewards, not only in our relationship with them here on earth but for eternity too.
© 2021 Mandi Hart and Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.