Our Five Best Parenting Decisions

You shall teach them diligently to your children (Deuteronomy 6:7)

Parenting is not for wimps. It’s hard work that takes a man and a woman who are dedicated to protecting, loving, training, educating, and discipling the young lives God has entrusted to their care. Mom and Dad must be willing to put in the time and make the tough choices, even when the momentary alternative seems more comfortable and less exhausting. Being a parent sometimes feels like that old TV commercial for a brand-name oil filter: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

Yes, parenting can be difficult, demanding, and tiring now and then. But if you are willing to do the work and make the hard choices now, the future rewards and blessings are plentiful and greater than you can imagine.

Recently, a young mom asked me for some of the best decisions Rachael and I have made as parents. As I thought back over our twenty-five years of parenthood, a few specific choices we had made immediately sprang to mind. So here is a list of what I consider to be the top five parenting decisions we’ve made. Ask another mom and dad, any you might get a different set of answers. But I hope this list will at least help you and your spouse begin thinking, talking, and being intentional, because the last thing you want to do as a parent is “wing it.”

1. Family Worship
In workshops, I often tell parents that this is one of the best family routines they can put into practice. Family worship doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It can be as simple as reading the Bible, singing a few songs, and praying together. This can take place in the morning, before dad leaves for work, or immediately after dinner or right before bedtime. The key is to be consistent. But don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two—life can get crazy sometimes. If and when this happens, just start back up and get into a routine. Something amazing happens when you circle up the kids, fall on your knees, and talk to the Lord God Almighty.

2. No TVs in the Bedrooms, Kitchen, or Living Room
Yes, we watch television sometimes. We even have one or two favorite shows. But we typically only watch if our schedules permit. In other words, our weekly routine is not dictated by cable programming.

Early in our marriage, we kept our television behind closed doors by placing it in a cabinet where it was largely out of sight and out of mind. This certainly helped with young kids who are so easily hypnotized by moving pictures.

When we purchased a large HDTV, we chose to keep it in our finished basement. This means we never watch TV while preparing a meal or eating at a table, and it isn’t background noise during conversations in the living room. And the kids don’t have TVs in their bedrooms.

As a result, watching a movie or TV show is a very intentional decision. Often a request is denied because it’s Saturday night and we want to prepare our minds for worship the next day. Or it’s Sunday and we want everyone to get a good night’s sleep so that Monday can be a nice start to the week.

3. No Video Games
It’s true that the gaming industry is vast and still growing. Yet I have a hard time believing that anyone makes enduring life memories playing video games. And of course, there are plenty of articles and studies about their addictive nature.

To be clear, I am not unilaterally against video games. My kids have played video games; we just don’t own any. Rachael and I made this choice to prevent our children’s brains from turning into macaroni and cheese.

In this article, I share a story about a hand-held game boy that is now famously sitting in a technology museum in our attic.

4. No Sleepovers
Family worship? Sounds great! No TV? I can see your point. No video games? Um, that means I’ll have to say no. But now you’re suggesting that I never allow my kids to spend the night with friends? That’s not going to go over well at my house.

Trust me, I know firsthand that a no-sleepovers policy is not the way to endear yourself with other kids and their parents. One time when we refused to allow our two young sons to attend a sleepover, it basically ended a friendship. But you know what? I sleep perfectly sound at night knowing that I protected my sons. Sometimes you are forced to decide who you love more—your friends or your children.

Quite frankly, the only way to make this kind of tough call is to be completely consistent. Don’t allow any sleepovers. Not with an acquaintance, not with a good friend, and not with your best friend. Your best friend will understand. Others may not. (Just to be clear, I’m not talking about spending the night with Grandma and Grandpa. I’m going to assume they are family you can trust.)

There are just too many bad things that can happen during a sleepover. I don’t want to take a chance that my child experiences a traumatic event or conversation of which I wouldn’t approve. Saying no is one of the hardest parts of being a parent, but you have to be able to say no to your kids and, sometimes, to other adults.

5. Homeschooling
Although the decision to educate our kids at home was one of the very best parenting decisions we’ve made, it really wasn’t our idea. God had to get our attention with a providential two-by-four over the head. And I thank Him every day for the grace to get us started on this journey.

Schools were bad when I was a kid. They were bad twenty years ago when my oldest son spent two weeks at “one of the best” public schools in the Charlotte area. But you would have to be completely out of touch with current events not to know that our government-controlled schools today are in complete shambles.

The enemy has been working his game plan for decades. Prayer was dismissed from classrooms in the 1960s. A culture of death creeped into classrooms in the ’70s after the Roe v. Wade decision led to the social acceptance of abortion. Parents willingly handed off their children to daycare facilities in droves during the ’80s. The 1990s and 2000s saw public school students indoctrinated in climate change propaganda, as they were taught to place the love of creation over love of the Creator. Now comes news that the federal government is requiring schools to allow students to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice, based on the gender they “identify” with.

The social, spiritual, and political trends are only getting worse. Relativism and a “whatever” attitude has permeated the hearts and minds of millions of young people, including many growing up in Christian families. Research shows that a large percentage of our teens not only are leaving the church when they graduate high school but that many were already gone in elementary school and junior high because of the false teachings forced upon them at an impressionable age.

Homeschooling, on the other hand, has allowed Rachael and me to teach our kids to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to honor and obey their parents. My kids have enjoyed the freedom to explore outdoors and discover the wonders of God’s creation. We were able to custom design each child’s curriculum around their individual interests and abilities so that they love to learn. And we got to do all this in a loving family setting. What a wonderful experience for all of us!

Let’s face it, the schoolroom is not a child’s natural habitat. And educational context is just as important as the content. Again, I thank God often for leading us down this path less traveled.

Homeschooling is a paradigm shift that changes everything—your marriage, your parenting, and naturally, the education of your children. It’s a big decision but one of the best you could ever make for your family. I firmly believe that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now.

So what do you think? I’d love to hear some of the best decisions you’ve made as a parent.

Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!

Davis Signature

© 2016 Davis Carman

Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of three illustrated children’s books designed to instill a biblical worldview. Good Morning, God is based on Deuteronomy 6, and A Light for My Path is an ABC book based on Psalm 119. His latest, In the Beginning, is based on the creation account in Genesis. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now!

2 Responses to “Our Five Best Parenting Decisions”

  1. Ruth says:

    Hi Davis, we have certainty not been perfect parents but here are some of the best decisions we’ve made:
    1. Put Christ at the center of our marriage and stayed together no matter how hard it was at times. Thanking God for his grace!
    2. Family prayer time at night before bedtime, we did this for many years
    3. Regular church attendance and involvement in people’s lives
    4. Homeschooling! It was one of our best decisions, it brought us together as a family and created strong bonds of loyalty to each other.
    5. Strict TV rules, no cable TV, no TV in bedrooms, kitchen etc. strict movie rules too. We also did not allow any video games for most of their growing up years
    6. Made extended family time a priority. As hard as it was last year when both their Mimi and Papa died, I am so glad they had such a close, loving rrlationship with them.
    7. Lots of giggles and fun times, even crazy silliness.

  2. Davis says:

    I’ve actually received a few private messages asking about the “no sleep overs” rule. So I thought I would add a couple details here.

    There have been plenty of times when my kids were invited to a sleep over, and we let them go to all the initial activities during the evening (ex: the dinner, cake, presents, games, movie). I would then pick them up at 10 or 11 o’clock (midnight in one case). On a couple rare occasions, I took them back in the morning for breakfast to close out the event with the group.

    You would be correct to assume that we never invited other kids to spend the night with ours. But trust me, our home has been a beehive of activities, especially with teens. Our most famous activity is the all day Lord of the Rings movie marathon on New Year’s Eve. It typically starts close to 7 in the morning, includes a first and second breakfast with pancakes, and concludes close to 9 or 10pm. Pizza and games fill the next couple hours before the new year is welcomed with a prayer and a toast, with everyone leaving for home soon after midnight.

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