In their new book on parenting, Nicky and Sila Lee admit to not always getting it right with their children. But they also say that with God’s help we can build strong relationships with our kids. By SHARON BARNARD
It's a brave parent who asks their offspring to recount the times and ways they’ve got it wrong. It’s even braver to commit some of those failings to print as Nicky and Sila Lee have done. But in being so open, many parents reading their book will be hugely reassured.
“I don’t think there’s a parent who doesn’t have regrets,” says Nicky, “but it’s never too late to invest in your relationship with your children.
“Sometimes we have to say sorry.
“Our guilt or regret should not hold us back. There’s always room for change and growth. We want to give hope to parents.”
Nicky and Sila Lee, the parents of a daughter and three sons, are on the staff of Holy Trinity Brompton in London, the home of the Alpha course. They are also best-selling authors of The Marriage Book and have pioneered courses on marriage, parenting and family life.
Now in The Parenting Book they offer insights from their own experience “and valuable practical tips we have learnt from others”.
They say one of the essential building blocks for a healthy family relationship is having fun.
“We write a lot about family time and having fun – having meals together and playing games, “ says Nicky. “As church leaders we have to go on stressing the importance of that time for families – and giving parents permission to say no sometimes to the demands of the church.”
Sila adds: “Invest in spending time with other Christian families and have fun with them too. Being around others who share the same values is vital, so you don’t feel out on a limb.”
In the book the Lees look at how families work, how to meet children’s needs, set boundaries and help them make good choices. They also suggest ways parents can pass on their Christian beliefs and values.
“Children don’t want to feel forced or pushed into something,” says Nicky. “Many children will explore in their own way, but what they have seen modelled – our core values and the way they’ve been lived out – affects the choices they make. And keep praying for them!”
Prayer, along with providing a loving home environment and reading Bible stories together, are all vital in helping to pass on our faith, they believe.
With the benefit of experience, Sila says she would now try to “worry less and pray more”.
“Worrying made me more controlling – but this didn’t help the children. Turn that worry into prayer and allow [them] to be free to learn from their failures.
“Our children are a gift from God and he has a plan and purpose for them.”
The wider Christian community also has a part to play in nurturing and encouraging parents and children and acting as a role model, they say.
The Lees tried to make going to church “a normal and enjoyable activity” for their children as they were growing up. They suggest, where possible, finding churches where children can be with their peers and have activities suited to their age group.
“Children’s and teenage groups are essential and foundational ways to support families,” says Sila. “They also act as a bridge to people outside the church.
“And we have groups in our church that support mothers with little children. Mums can become very isolated.
“Then there are the parenting courses. Often it can be a struggle for parents to come along but they are short courses – across five weeks – where they can meet others.”
“Parents need encouragement,” adds Nicky.
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