11. Pay now or pay later. Allowing smaller children to disobey, talk disrespectfully, and experience little discipline will usually come back to haunt parents later. Better to pay the price of dealing with these behaviors and attitudes early before it gets even more difficult.
12. Parenting is a ministry. Your children have been loaned to you as a gift from God. This is a stewardship issue. How will I manage the children who are in my home for a very short time?
13. Create a special time for you and your child to be together. For our children, this was something we referred to as "special days." Basically this was a time when I took each one to McDonald's (or elsewhere) for alone, unhurried time. This started when they were very small and continued (in some form) even through high school. As they grew older, this time often helped me see where they were in their relationship with God.
14. Children need their parent's undivided attention on a regular basis. One visible way to communicate this is by turning off the cell phone in their presence so they can see that at this moment, nothing is more important than this conversation.
15. Children learn a lot about marriage by watching how mom and dad talk with one another. They even learn how to forgive and deal with mistakes by watching their parents relate to each other.
16. Television is great but be careful about letting it take over the family. We chose to turn the television off when we ate meals together. Just being together and checking in with one another was far more important.
17. Families gain something by eating together. In our family, this has typically been the evening meal. When our children were in high school, this was much more difficult to schedule. Even then, we tried to plan evening meals together several times a week. For our family, this time was very valuable.
18. Create a home that is a breath of fresh air for the family. Many of us deal with lots of stress in our work. Our children are dealing with stress at school. Make home inviting rather than a place that adds more stress. This is easier said than done but parents can still have this as their intent.
19. Kids need to see that mom and dad treasure Jesus above everything else. One way they see this is when parents make practical decisions which place Jesus and his desires first.
20. Think about the disposition you are modeling before your children. Years ago, we were about to move from Alabama to Kansas City, Mo. I was concerned about the impact of such a move on our small children. A wise father told me, "They will take their ques from you. If you are calm and see this as a great adventure, they will be just fine. However, if you are anxious, on edge, and uptight about all of this, they will also react the same way." Wise words that I have remembered on many occasions.