To impress means _to sharpen; to teach; to be pierced_. To impress something upon someone means to speak sharp statements with the intention that they will be quickly remembered and obeyed.
Children have a way of remembering our mantras — those pithy statements we make that have substance. It’s always a great acknowledgement when someone quotes something I have said or have written, but nothing compares to hearing my children repeat something I’ve said. Wow! I love it when that happens.
Did you notice that to impress also means to pierce? Could it be possible that one of the by-products of a lack of parental teaching is that young people are mutilating their bodies with piercings? They may be so desperate to be impressed by someone, or something, that they will readily tattoo pictures, phrases or symbolic images upon themselves. Alternately, they may have something to say but they don’t know how to express it, so they cut and mark themselves in an effort to get attention and be heard. In either case, this could be a direct by-product of the absence of a patriarchal influence.
Rather than allow society to mark them, here’s how we can make an indelible impression upon our children with the word of God.
1. Make it a part of the conversation in your household
This should be a daily pattern but not in a fake, religious sense. It should just be part of the conversation during normal routines.
For an example, talk about something that is making the headlines in the news. How does it relate to the principles of God’s word? If someone is involved in a scandal, what led to it? A sexual sin? A lack of integrity in politics or business? What scriptural example could be used to explain it?
2. During travel
I took advantage of this with my family. Drive time became teaching time for me. When we got in my SUV to go somewhere, I would begin to teach about principles in the Bible. Our family had the best dialogue while we traveled.
I believe God relates to us in the daily commute. As we go, God speaks to us. Adam walked with God in the cool of the day. Enoch walked with God, and he was no more for God took him. Noah walked with God as a righteous man during a wicked generation. Abraham’s steps were ordered as he walked to inherit a new land. Moses walked barefoot on a mountain as he received revelation from God. When Jesus came to earth, he, too, walked with man.
As you’re traveling, spend time conversing with your family.
3. Before you go to sleep
Bedtime is a vital time to impress upon your children the things of God.
When my children were young, I made it a habit to tuck them into bed each night. I would tell them faith stories. I would make up situations where a belief in a principle from God’s word would help get them through a challenge.
Then, I would speak a prayer over them for their sleep to be sweet, asking the Holy Spirit to instruct them during the night.
If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. — Proverbs 3:24 ESV
4. And when you awake
Starting the day off with instruction and motivation. When they get up is the perfect time to set goals and forecast the day. Help your child with a “to-do” list. An assignment gives your child purpose and creates order for them.
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. — Proverbs 29:18 NIV
You have the ability to answer questions and the responsibility to forecast your child’s future with your words.
5. “Tie them as symbols on your hands.”
When each of my daughters turned 13, I presented them with a ring to wear as a symbol of purity. I told them these rings were really gifts to be given to their future husbands as tokens representing their purity for marriage. Each ring became a symbol upon their hands to remind them of their future.
I truly believe that children want to have your vision and values stamped upon them. Remember, to impress means to make a distinguishing mark upon them.
6. “Bind them upon their foreheads.”
It is a Jewish tradition for men to wear the “Tefillin” or phylacteries, which are small, wooden square boxes placed upon the forehead that house four scriptures:
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. -Deuteronomy 6:8 NIV
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. — Deuteronomy 11:18 NIV
When a phylactery is placed upon a man, a spoken blessing is announced, “Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever.”
7. “Write them upon your door frames and the gates of your home.”
As a man, you are the gate of authority to your home. The gate you open up is the gate others walk through. This can be good or bad. To access your home, people and things must come through you. When someone knocks on the door, it is protocol for the man of the house to answer the door.
If we’re going to make an impression upon our children, it will be by intentional effort.
The words of a father, and the impression he leaves upon his children have staying power. They can become prophesies for his children’s future.