Few responsibilities are more important than the raising of children. It's critical that Christian parents turn to the pages of the Bible for wisdom as they fulfill this responsibility. Raising children successfully requires love, patience, commitment, and planning. Here are some biblically-based tips to help families raise children God's way:
Parents Must Commit to a Loving Marriage
As controversial as it is today to define "marriage" and "family," the Bible is fairly clear on the subject. In Genesis, God instituted marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman. While the government may decide to sanction other forms of "marriages" or civil unions (as indeed ancient Israel did with polygamy), these arrangements are not part of God's plan.
God's plan for families is for a man to "leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife" and for the two of them to then "become one flesh." Within this sacred bond, the couple are to bring children into the world, raise them, and send them out for the process to repeat. Successful Christian parenting therefore begins with a committed Christian marriage.
Parents Must Love Their Children Unconditionally
Love is the most fundamental command given by Jesus. When asked the most important commandment, Jesus responded that it was to love God with all of one's heart, soul, and mind. The second most important commandment, Jesus said, was to "love your neighbor as yourself." Properly understood, "neighbor" denotes people with whom we commonly interact, not simply the person or persons living next door. In a very real sense, this starts with the family.
Of course, the kind of love to which Christians are commanded is unconditional love. Parents must unconditionally love (and express that love to) their children.
Parents Must Encourage and Affirm Their Children
Children benefit greatly from honest and positive praise. This should be given liberally, even as part of discipline. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul writes: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Communication should be used to build up and encourage, and not to tear down. Sadly, many parents use their words to discourage and tear down their children. This should not be the case in any home, but especially not in a Christian home.
Parents Must Cultivate Open Communication
Communication must be open, honest, and frequent. Children should not get in the habit of "bottling up" their feelings, and should never feel that they can't trust their parents with their feelings, secrets, and problems. Parents must work hard to insure their kids know that they are loved and appreciated. And that they are welcome to share what's on their heart and mind.
Discipline Must be Corrective and Not Abusive
Parents must discipline their children, but that discipline should be designed to correct and edify. Discipline should be consistently and lovingly administered. Though the Bible refers to the "rod," this is symbolic of authority and corrective force. It is not a license to beat one's child. Children raised in an abusive environment are likely to grow up and either be abusive themselves or have severe social, emotional, physical and cognitive delays in development. That is not God's will for the family.
By bringing biblical principles to bear in the family through committed marriages, love, encouragement, open communication, and loving and responsible discipline, Christian families will see greater success in the raising of their children.
Prerequisites for Discipline
DISCIPLINE is a major concern for parents. The issue is how do we get our children to behave according to the standards we expect. What if they refuse to conform?
There are many methods of discipline. The effectiveness of discipline methods varies from situation to situation and from child to child. But whatever the discipline methods, there are prerequisites for discipline to be effective. I call these "the 3R's prerequisites"
- Relationship of Love
- Reading of Your Child
- Recognition of Wrongdoing
A Relationship of Love
... For those for whom the LORD loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.
It is for discipline that you endure;
God deals with you as with sons;
for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
But if you are without discipline,
of whom all have become partakers,
then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us,
and we respected them;
shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits,
For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them,
but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;
yet to those who have been trained by it
afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
The writer of Hebrews told his readers that discipline was an evidence of their relationship with God as their Father. He encouraged them to endure the discipline, though it was painful, because it was intended for their growth in character. From this short passage, we learn that a prerequisite for effective discipline is a strong relationship between parent and child. If a child knows and feels the love of his parents, then he is more likely to accept the discipline. He knows that his parents care enough to discipline him.
As parents, we love our children, but often we fail to demonstrate love in ways that our children can understand. We tend to share more of our treasures with our children than our talents and time. Buying a present for your child can be impersonal but playing with your child involves you as a person. In sharing our talents and time, we are sharing ourselves. This will help to develop an emotional bond with our children.
Parenting requires commitment because it takes time and effort to build and maintain relationships. When there is a strong bond between parent and child, the parent has little use of methods. A strong bond helps prevent many discipline problems because children who are close to their parents desire to follow the family rules and please their parents.
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Second Edition (Resources for Changing Lives)
Price: $10.19 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25.
You Save: $4.80 (32%)