By: Shawn and Susanne Walden
We asked Pastor Shawn Walden and his wife Worship Director, Susanne Walden, some questions on parenting. They have been married 32 years and have 3 kids together.
1. How do you find time to balance work, raising a family, marriage, and making time for God?
Good question – if anyone has that figured out, please let us know. The thing we know is that you will struggle to find balance, but there is an order that will keep things as healthy as possible:
God – you need time with him for your own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health (don’t skip it)
Your spouse – We all tend to put them aside because we “committed to each other”, but that relationship needs nurturing and your kids will be better for it.
Children – They need healthy parents so keep your boundaries and model for them.
Work – Do it with excellence and then walk away when it’s time for family.
2. How do you handle children that are lost without enabling their destructive behavior?
At that point, you’re already on “defense”. The goal with a child who is struggling is to love them and pray for them. Lecturing, guilting, comparing, etc.. will only send them further away. If it’s possible to start young setting the course, do it. If they are already off track, bring them back with love. We see that with the wives with unbelieving husbands… live in a way that leads them to Jesus. It’s much like your child. Live in a way that brings them to God.
3. How can you be a Godly parent when you grew up in a home that didn’t show a very good parenting style?
You can only be a godly parent if you’re spending time with God. What you came from won’t solve your parenting needs. Only time with the Lord will lead you to setting the right example.
4. What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a parent?
Consistency in all areas is key and what you “approve” will come back to you. Your kids will take their “approvals” even further than you did.
If you think cursing is cool… expect it from them and a bit more.
If you think drinking is in… expect it from them and a bit more.
If you think texting and driving is okay, they will do it too and more often than you do.
If you gossip, they will learn how to care for people with a gossiping voice.
If you live the same at home, work, church your kids will see consistency.
If you serve, your children will serve.
If you criticize, your children will criticize.
If you talk like you’re more important or better than others, they will think they are better than others.
If you talk with love, they will learn to live with love.
If you have multi-cultural and ethnic friendships, your children will only know how to love all people.
If you have only limited cultural/ethnic relationship, your children mostly likely will as well.
If you spend time in the bible and prayer with your children, they will learn the behavior before they learn to love it, etc..
If you stay in church when it’s hard, boring, you’re not being fed, you don’t like the music or the sermons, etc.. you teach them how to stay the course when they don’t like something.
Whatever you choose to do or model, do it consistently (sow it as the bible says) and you will reap the “reward” of it.. so choose wisely. It’s worth it.
5. What is a good age to give them more freedom?
Trust is an earned gift, and it is not given before it’s earned. As it’s earned, freedom happens naturally. If it is violated, it’s taken away. There is so much blessing in doing good and honoring others. There are usually a lot more “rules” and less freedom when they are not choosing to do good and honor others. Our girls used to say to Caleb “just do what they say… we’re trying to help you. It’s so much easier to just do what they say”… Lol..
6. How important is the distinction between being your kid’s parent vs. being their friend?
You are their parent and they are a treasure to be cherished and cared for until they are old enough to do that for themselves. They will appreciate being treasured and cared for more than they want to be your “friend”. The bible gives us a commandment to children about parents, and it comes with promises – Honor your father and mother so that it will go well with you and you will live a long life on the earth. You are teaching them something that will give them a healthy future and a long life. You want them to live in that fulfillment so be the parent. When they are adults, the friendship happens naturally and it’s beautiful and life giving both ways.
7. How important is having Godly mentors and people in your child’s life?
Crucial and defining for their lives. We don’t know everything and they won’t always trust us or come to us no matter how hard we try to create the “best” home. They will also learn about relationships from mentors and leaders….love/forgiveness and conflict/restoration. They will also learn about commitment even when they don’t want to keep it and they need that because it’s not modeled most places. Be in church/youth ministry. Stay plugged in even when it’s not fun. Let other adults pour into them and love them when they don’t like you. Let them learn to forgive when they are hurt by others and you get to help explain that the church is still full of broken people. And let them thrive in healthy ways when they see relationships working.
8. What are some things that you practiced as a parent that you think were successful?
Loving each other and letting our kids see that as well as conflict resolution in healthy ways.
Both spending time with the kids on a regular basis.
Consistency in all things
God above all and in all things but not in creepy ways… lol.. it has to be real.
9. How do you keep God at the center of your parenting?
God has to be the center of your personal life to be the center of your parenting. It’s really that simple. Stay in the word. Stay in church. Keep loving others like Jesus did. If he’s real to you, they will see it. If he’s not, they will also see that. And your life must match your beliefs.