Category: (3) Parenting

 Parenting can be a difficult and challenging venture, but at the same  time can be the most rewarding and fulfilling thing we ever do. The Bible has a  great deal to say about the way we can successfully raise our children to be men  and women of God. The first thing we must do is teach them the truth about God’s  Word.

Along with loving God and being a godly example by committing  ourselves to His commands, we need to heed the command of Deuteronomy 6:7-9 regarding teaching our children to do the same. This passage emphasizes the  ongoing nature of such instruction. It should be done at all times—at home, on  the road, at night, and in the morning. Biblical truth should be the foundation  of our homes. By following the principles of these commands, we teach our  children that worshiping God should be constant, not reserved for Sunday  mornings or nightly prayers.

Although our children learn a great deal  through direct teaching, they learn much more by watching us. This is why we  must be careful in everything we do. We must first acknowledge our God-given  roles. Husbands and wives are to be mutually respectful and submissive to each  other (Ephesians  5:21). At the same time, God has established a line of authority to keep  order. “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the  head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3).  We know that Christ is not inferior to God, just as a wife is not inferior to  her husband. God recognizes, however, that without submission to authority,  there is no order. The husband’s responsibility as the head of the household is  to love his wife as he loves his own body, in the same sacrificial way that  Christ loved the church (Ephesians  5:25-29).

In response to this loving leadership, it is not difficult  for the wife to submit to her husband’s authority (Ephesians  5:24; Colossians  3:18). Her primary responsibility is to love and respect her husband, live  in wisdom and purity, and take care of the home (Titus  2:4-5). Women are naturally more nurturing than men because they were  designed to be the primary caretakers of their children.

Discipline and  instruction are integral parts of parenting. Proverbs  13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is  careful to discipline him.” Children who grow up in undisciplined households  feel unwanted and unworthy. They lack direction and self-control, and as they  get older they rebel and have little or no respect for any kind of authority,  including God’s. “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a  willing party to his death” (Proverbs  19:18). At the same time, discipline must be balanced with love, or children  may grow up resentful, discouraged, and rebellious (Colossians  3:21). God recognizes that discipline is painful when it is happening (Hebrews 12:11), but if  followed by loving instruction, it is remarkably beneficial to the child.  “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the  training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians  6:4).

It is important to involve children in the church family and  ministry when they are young. Regularly attend a Bible-believing church (Hebrews 10:25), allow them  to see you studying the Word, and also study it with them. Discuss with them the  world around them as they see it, and teach them about the glory of God through  everyday life. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he  will not turn from it” (Proverbs  22:6). Being a good parent is all about raising children who will follow  your example in obeying and worshipping the Lord.

The Lord gives mothers and fathers unique opportunities to teach their children about godly living. Through their parents’ lifestyle and instruction, kids can discover personal accountability to God.

A. Role Models

As parents, we’re always teaching our kids something. Whether we respond correctly or incorrectly to situations, they are watching and learning. If you ever doubt the influence you have on your children, observe the ways in which they imitate you.

  • What kind of actions, attitudes, and beliefs do you see your children imitating?

Read Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

  • What command does Moses relay from God to the Israelites (Deut. 6:4-5)?
  • What does it mean to love the Lord in this way?
  • In your own words, when were Israelite parents to instruct their children about God (Deut. 6:6-9)? Describe the times such instruction should take place today.

The Lord makes fathers and mothers responsible for teaching their children spiritual principles. Oftentimes, young people rebel against authority because their parents have failed to learn His Word and instruct their children in it.

  • Did your parents ever teach you the Bible or share something that God had taught them?
  • What difference did that instruction make in your life?

B. The Proper Attitude

Teaching children about the Lord demands great patience, understanding, love, forgiveness, and wisdom. You and your kids must maintain good communication. Then, when your children make poor decisions, remember the grace that God has granted you, and give the same to your sons and daughters.

Read the account of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.

  • How does the father in this story symbolize God’s response toward us?
  • How can you reflect this same attitude toward your children?

There are many biblical principles that your children should know before they leave your home. Here are a few:

  • The reliability of Scripture
  • The gospel message and the process of evangelism
  • The principles of forgiveness
  • Their identity in Christ
  • The ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives
  • The basics of effective prayer
  • God’s faithfulness in all of life’s challenges
  • The principle of sowing and reaping
  • Godly stewardship of their time, skills, money and other resources
  • Their responsibility and accountability to God

The best way to know how to communicate these principles to your children is to learn and apply them in your own life.

C.  Children are responsible and accountable to God

For the purpose of this study, let’s focus on one particular concept. We need to guide our children to recognize and respect God as the ultimate authority in their lives.

As parents, we are our children’s God-given instructors and authority figures only for a season. Ultimately, they are responsible to the Lord for their actions and attitudes.

  • Why is it important to begin teaching your children to transfer their feelings of responsibility from you to God while they are young?
  • How might this principle impact your children’s behavior when they are teenagers?

D.  Three Steps to Help Kids Be Accountable to God

  1. Allow your children to set some of the standards and parameters for their responsibilities. If they are old enough, ask them to prayerfully consider how they should help around the house, or what time their curfew should be. Encourage them to consult the Lord and make decisions based on His leading. Of course, you will still need to enforce the rules when they disobey.
    • What are some of the benefits to this suggestion? What are some drawbacks?
    • Is this a suggestion you feel comfortable implementing? Why or why not?
    • In what small area could you give your children more say in deciding rules and responsibilities?
  2. Allow them to follow through with the standards and parameters they have set. Sometimes you need to let children make an unwise decision. Of course, if they suggest something ridiculous, you will have to intervene. But you should let your kids experience some consequences in order to mature.
    • Did your parents let you make mistakes, or did they rescue you? What effect do you think that has had on your confidence and willingness to take risks as an adult?
  3. Most importantly, you must live in a way that reflects your own responsibility and accountability to God. Your children notice when you gossip about a family member or brag about avoiding a speeding ticket. As parents, we must demonstrate lifestyles of accountability to God even in small things, or this principle will be meaningless to our children.
    • Evaluate your life. Are you setting a good example for your children by acknowledging your accountability to God? What areas could use some improvement?

Closing: We are all accountable and responsible to the Lord. Determine to model and teach these truths to your kids. If you will actively instruct your sons and daughters, you will be taking powerful steps to safeguard them from rebellion and disillusionment later in life.

Prayer: Father, please give parents the strength and wisdom to model a godly lifestyle. Empower them to fulfill their responsibilities of learning Your Word and teaching it to their children. May hurting families become healthy and happy for Your glory. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

In an achievement-oriented society such as ours, there is a tendency to equate our significance or importance with our ability to perform certain tasks. Even as Christians we tend to evaluate our worth on the basis of what we have done rather than on the basis of who we are in Christ. As we mature in our faith, however, the Holy Spirit is constantly at work within us helping us realize where our true identity is really found.

Often your child’s area of interest or strength will be something with which you are not familiar or which holds no interest for you. Do not make the mistake of downplaying an interest simply because it holds no natural attraction for you. For your child’s sake, you must go the extra mile to become interested. But keep in mind that your interest must be genuine; a child can tell if you are not being sincere.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:12)

The tragedy is that when we put ourselves on a performance scale to measure our worth and significance, we tend to put those around us on one as well. Thus, we accept others on the same erroneous and artificial basis that we accept ourselves. Unfortunately, our children often bear the brunt of our insecurity as adults. Our personal struggles with self-esteem overflow in our expectations of them. Since we are never quite satisfied with our own performance or looks or whatever, we find it difficult to be satisfied with theirs, either.

The result is that we push and push and push. We expect better grades, better batting averages, better manners, better friends, better goals, and so on. Things are never as good as they could be. So children grow up under pressure to achieve a standard they find somewhat elusive and ever-changing. They work to earn something that should be freely given, that is, acceptance. And as Hugh Parham Stanley puts it, “Nothing can alienate a child quicker than having to work for something that should be given freely” (The Challenge of Fatherhood in Today’s World; St. Meinrad, Ind.: Abbey Press, 1982, p.50).

Children in this situation tend to become workaholics or to give up altogether and quit trying to measure up. In both cases the parents have failed because the children have come to believe on an emotional level that acceptability is based upon ability to perform certain tasks or to look a certain way.

Unrealistic and ever-changing expectations are a form of rejection because you as a parent communicate that you are more concerned with your children’s behavior as it reflects on you than you are with them as individuals. You may not think about it in those terms, but why else would you keep pushing them? Children may not recognize what has happened is rejection, but their deep feelings of alienation and hostility are characteristic of children who have been openly rejected . . .

“But,” you say, “am I not to motivate my children to excellence? Am I not responsible to help them develop to the fullest of their potential? Are there not times when I need to push a little?”

Absolutely! In fact, motivating your children to excellence and improvement is in itself a part of expressing unconditional love and acceptance to them. To allow children simply to get by in life is another form of covert rejection. It is as if you are saying, “I don’t care if you amount to anything in life.”

If you are to motivate your children to excellence without expressing an attitude of conditional acceptance, two things must be true. First, all your prodding and motivating must be preceded by demonstrations of your unconditional love for your children. There must be memorials, so to speak, to their worthiness in your eyes. By memorials I mean events or conversations that have clearly expressed your love.

Memorials such as these are beneficial because they reassure your children of your unconditional love, and they provide a comfortable context for failure. Sometimes you will expect too much from your children, and they will fail. These reminders of your unconditional acceptance make it easier for them to face you when the bottom drops out.

Memorials can also take the form of a gift, such as jewelry, something related to a favorite hobby, a special item of clothing, or even the bestowal of certain privileges. In presenting the gift, stress several times that it is not connected with any particular occasion or activity on their part; you are giving it just because you love them . . . .

The real key here is to view each of your children as a unique individual. The assumption must be that each child is gifted in some particular area. Your goal as a parent is to recognize that area of strength and emphasize it as your child develops, for in these areas of strength lies your child’s greatest potential for excellence. By cultivating these areas, you will do great things for your child’s self-esteem as well.

It seems that one of the hardest things for Christians to remember is that it is not a sin to be pregnant. It’s not a sin to be pregnant out of wedlock. And it’s not a sin to be born to unmarried parents. It is a sin to have sex outside the marriage relationship—and it is just as much a sin for the man as for the woman. But an unbiblical intimate relationship is a much easier thing to hide from critical eyes than a pregnancy and, sadly, less damaging to a family’s reputation in the Christian community.
As disappointing and overwhelming it may be to learn a teenage daughter is pregnant, it’s crucial to keep a kingdom perspective. The sin is done. Whatever influences the teens have been under to lead them to sin can’t be avoided now. This new situation is not about the morality of out-of-wedlock sex or the reputation of a family. It’s about the development of a child. All children are blessings from God and He has a plan for each one (Psalm 139:13-18). Even if the circumstances in which they come may be less than ideal, that child is as precious and loved by God as any other.
The pregnant daughter is also precious to God. The role of parents is to teach and guide their children to live godly lives in whatever they face. This is a prime opportunity to do just that. The girl may be scared, ashamed, and emotional, and it is her parents’ responsibility to help her push past emotion and turn to her Heavenly Father.
Some parents fear that giving their daughter the love and support she needs will encourage the behavior that led to the pregnancy. But, again, being pregnant and giving birth to a child is not a sin, and there are so many other benefits to actively and publicly standing with a pregnant teen. It fosters an environment in which the child is valued as a blessing. It encourages the father to take responsibility without fear. And it makes abortion look like a much less desirable option.
If a family abandons their pregnant teen—even emotionally—she will be much more likely to make harmful decisions. She may think marrying the baby’s father is the only option. She may not know how to take care of her health and that of the baby. Other pregnant teens may see the volatile relationship and keep their own condition secret.
Conversely, the girl will be able to make much wiser decisions about her and her baby’s future if she can rest in her parents’ acceptance and loving guidance. Making this journey more emotionally difficult for her will not encourage clear thinking. Wise parents will help their daughter walk through the options of keeping the child or adoption. It may also be beneficial to involve the father and his family; he needs to take as much ownership as the mother. After careful prayer, parents should be clear about the level of support they can give in raising the child. Make use of Christian crisis pregnancy centers.
Our God is a powerful God who can bring joy and blessing even out of our sin. There may be incredibly tough times ahead for the pregnant teen and her family, but our God is the God who redeems.
 Solomon’s advice to parents is to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Raising and training a child within the context of this proverb means that it begins with the Bible, as “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Teaching children the truths of Scripture will make them wise for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15); thoroughly equip them to do good works (2 Timothy 3:17); prepare them to give an answer to everyone who asks them the reason for their hope (1 Peter 3:15); and prepare them to withstand the onslaught of cultures bent on indoctrinating young people with secular values.
The Bible tells us that children are a reward from God (Psalm 127:3). It would certainly seem fitting, then, that we heed Solomon’s wise counsel to train them appropriately. In fact, the value that God placed on teaching our children the truth is clearly addressed by Moses who stressed to his people the importance of teaching their children about the Lord and His commands and laws: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:7-9). Moses’ thoroughness underscores his deep concern that successive generations maintain obedience to God’s laws to ensure they would “live safely in the land” (Leviticus 25:18), that all would “go well” with them (Deuteronomy 12:28), and that He would bless them in the land (Deuteronomy 30:16).
Clearly Scripture teaches that training children to know and obey God is the basis for pleasing Him and living victoriously in His grace. Knowing God and His truths begins with the child’s understanding of sin and his need for a Savior. Even very young children understand that they are not perfect and can grasp at an early age the need for forgiveness. Loving parents model a loving God who not only forgives, but provides the perfect sacrifice for sin in Jesus Christ. Training up children in the way they should go means, first and foremost, directing them to the Savior.
Discipline is an integral part of raising godly children, for we know that the “LORD disciplines those He loves” (Proverbs 3:12). Thus, we should neither take discipline lightly nor become disheartened by it as the Lord “punishes everyone He accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:5-6). And we know that God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10). Likewise, when we discipline our children, they receive wisdom (Proverbs 29:15) and they will bring us peace (Proverbs 29:17) and respect (Hebrew 12:9). In fact, even at a tender age children are able to discern that discipline is rooted in love. That is why children who grow up in homes without discipline often feel unloved and are more likely to disobey authority as they grow older. Now, the discipline administered should be commensurate with the offense and physical discipline, such as spanking (rightly motivated), is certainly condoned by the Bible (Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13-14). Indeed discipline, though it may seem unpleasant when received, will produce a “harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
Parents should have the same zeal for teaching their children that Moses did. Parents have been given the privilege of being stewards of their children’s lives for a very short time, but the teaching and training they provide is eternal. According to the promise of Proverbs, a child who is diligently trained in the “way he should go” will remain true to that way in this life and reap its rewards in the next.