Our desire as parents should be to give our children intentional gifts; we should give what is useful after carefully thinking through what would be most beneficial to them.
Some parents already do this careful decision-making in the physical realm. Our family knows some parents who limit or eliminate refined sugar in their children’s diets.
This intentional mindset does not—indeed, should not—need to stop with choices that affect our children’s bodies. It should characterize all that we give our children—spiritually, physically, socially, mentally, emotionally, and practically.
Intentional parents operate under a purposeful mentality. That mindset demands some hard decisions and some positive stubbornness that can stand up against the current of popular opinion.
Ask an intentional parent, “What is the goal?” and you will probably hear something like this: “I want her to be a strong Christian”; “We want him to have good character”; “I want him to be prepared for life as a productive adult”; “We want to protect her heart”; “We want to develop our child’s God-given mind and abilities.”
Intentional parents know that, in order to reach the goal, we must teach our children. Unfortunately, the word “teach” conjures up a picture of school desks and textbooks in most people’s minds. But that’s a very limited view of teaching based on the model the ancient Greeks gave us. “Teaching,” to them, meant dispensing knowledge. So they would gather as many brains as possible into one room in order to have the teacher dispense knowledge efficiently.
The Hebrews, however, had a very different concept of teaching. To “teach” in the Hebrew culture meant building a relationship, spending time with a person in order to learn from watching him and interacting with him. Now, this form of teaching took a lot of time; it was in no sense efficient. But it was highly effective.
God has called parents to that effective kind of teaching. In Deuteronomy 6:7 He tells us to teach our children diligently using the relationship-based model: “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Parents, we are on assignment from God! We are called to develop deliberate relationships with the children He has entrusted to us. Those relationships form the bridge for effectively imparting wisdom and preparing our children to be godly adults.
Once we have built that bridge of a relationship, we will have an effective transporting structure in place for teaching our children. We can give them the best gifts a parent can give.