According to the Encarta Dictionary, a pact is “an agreement made between two or more groups or individuals, either formally or informally, to do something together or for each other.” (“Pact,” 2001, p. 1042). That agreement places responsibilities on each party to bind them together. Our families are so important that all parents should form a pact between them to encourage and hold each other responsible in the raising of their children. The following Parent PACT identifies four necessities for the care and discipline of our children.
The Parent PACT begins with the PRESENCE of the parents. One might think that we should not have to talk about the presence of parents in the lives of their children. However, there are many children who do not spend as much time with their parents as they would like to or as much as they need.
The presence of parents in their children’s lives provides the peace that they need. All parents have seen the anxious look of their child who has lost sight of them, if for only a brief moment, then to see that look turn to sheer joy the moment they lock eyes again! And, which of us parents has not heard the night time cry calling us to come into our children’s room because something has scared them? Our presence brought immediate peace.
God understands the power of presence to produce peace. As He brought them out of Egyptian bondage, He showed the Israelites His constant presence. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21). Later, He promised them, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
The second part of the Parent PACT is ATTENTION. This is only possible if you are present for attention comes from presence. Newborn babies show the greatest benefits of attention from their parents. They grow in direct proportion to the attention given them from their parents; they have fewer medical complications while showing a better growth rate and weight gain.
All parents know that children crave attention. Just try sitting down and reading the newspaper with little ones running in the house. That is almost impossible as they interrupt frequently just to show you something. Children have also been known to display a small temper tantrum just to get some attention.
Children want the attention of their parents because attention produces acceptance. The Lord God knew the importance of paying attention to His children—the children of Israel. He said, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15). He knew they would want His attention, and He told them how to secure it. He is still paying attention to us today. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).
The next part of this PACT is CLOSENESS. When we pay attention to our children, we will develop a close connection with them. University of Iowa’s researchers assessed the relationship of 102 infants (15 months old) with a parent and then followed up with 86 of them when they reached age eight. Their 2012 report found that “infants who have a close, intimate relationship with a parent are less likely to be troubled, aggressive or experience other emotional and behavioral problems when they reach school age” (Lewis, 2012).
How many times have you heard interviews with people in prison describing their life, talking about their absentee parents? Incarcerated people can trace their imprisonment to some moment or moments of a lack of self-control. If their parents had been on the job developing a close connection to them, maybe many of them would have learned self-control better and avoided prison.
Closeness fosters control. It is not a coincidence that at the time when the entire world had lost control of themselves and were doing whatever they wanted, there was one who still remained in control of his actions—Noah. The Bible says of him, “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). The rest of humanity had so lost control of their lives that God said, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:13). Noah’s family was the only one saved from the great flood. His self-control in the midst of an entire world gone mad came from his walking with God. This closeness helped him stay in control of himself.
The final part of this PACT is TEACHING. Parents are a child’s first teachers. Children learn explicitly from their parents as they take the time to teach specific things they will need to live as adults. They also learn implicitly from their parents because they are watching closely even when we might think they are not. We parents can think of many times that we have caught our children imitating us because that is what children do. Everything about growing up is learned through the modeling of others, and parents should take that responsibility to teach their children very seriously.
The Lord promised that He would teach His children. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psalm 32:8). Solomon learned from his father the words that he would write for future generations. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Successful teaching grows out of closeness and develops trust between the parents and the children.
Will you make this PACT with God to be present in your children’s lives so that you can be attentive to them and develop a closeness with them that will allow you to teach them what they need? The world so desperately needs us to honor this PACT!
“Pact” (2001) Encarta College Dictionary (New York: Bloomsbury).
Lewis, Richard (2012), “Parental Bonding = Happy, Stable Child,” Iowa Now, https://now.uiowa.edu/2012/10/parental-bondinghappy-stable-child.