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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Principles of Christian Parenting

#1 Bring up your children according to Scripture!
That’s what Paul means when he says in the second part of Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” 

In the first part of the verse Paul teaches that it is possible for parents to have a wholly negative effect upon their children: if it is done wrongly parenting will “exasperate” children. The positive way to parent is to do it in “the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Positively, this means that every parent should become familiar with the main parenting passages of Scripture such as Deuteronomy 6, the book of Proverbs, Ephesians chapter 6, Colossians chapter 3 and Hebrews chapter 12. 

Negatively, training in the instruction of the Lord means not following the parenting trends of our present age and being careful to assess the parenting methods which we were raised up in, according to the Word of God.  

#2 Love your children as God The Father loves
The first Person of the Godhead is called “God the Father” because of his loving relationship towards both his one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his relationship towards his adopted children, the church. And in these two relationships God the Father sets the divine role model for every Christian parent. And it is agape love that defines these two “Fatherly” relationships.

(i) The Father loves his One and Only Begotten Son
Jesus is just about to begin his daunting life’s work and God the Father said to him and to everyone who would listen: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

From these words we learn three parenting truths: First, tell your children you want them in your family, “this is MY Son”, that you are proud that they are in your family. Second, tell your children you love them, “whom I love”; don’t assume they know, tell them verbally. Thirdly, tell them you are pleased with them, “in whom I am well pleased.” The world will hammer them, they need to know that you are pleased with them.

(ii) The Father loves his adopted children
 God the Father has adopted children too, his church. He longs for them to be in his family, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) and has gone to great cost to achieve that adoption, “For God so loved the world,  that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16. Sacrifice is the characteristic of his love for us; and if we are to love our children in a Christlike way, we must be prepared to give up many things to love them too.  

#3 Set a godly example before your children
The golden rule of all discipleship is this: the amount of influence one person has upon another is proportional to the amount of time they spend with that person. That’s why 12 men turned the world upside down, they Acts 4:13, “had been with Jesus” - for 3 years, probably hundreds or even thousands of hours.

Since parents spend so much time with their children, they will inevitably be a vast influence on them.  There can be few greater motives for living a godly life in the home than this: our children will turn out like us. Our children will pick up on all our priorities and attitudes, whether for good or ill.

#4 Discipline your children in love
Discipline is the correction of wrong behaviour by some painful action. According to the Scriptures, discipline is necessary because children are sinners.  “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” (Pr. 22:15). The “rod of correction” need not refer only to corporal discipline but may also be a metaphor for any painful action to correct bad behaviour.  To discipline well, we must first  learn to distinguish between childish irresponsibility and wilful disobedience. Childish irresponsibility requires teaching while wilful disobedience requires discipline. Wilful disobedience requires some painful action needed to correct it. And in this a parent must be proportionate, controlled, followed through and consistent.

#5 Teach your children the Scriptures
The fifth Bible principle is teach your children the Scriptures. According to Deuteronomy
6:4-9, we are to impress God’s Word on our children at all sorts of different opportunities during the day. We may arrange time during the day – right after evening meal? - when we read the Bible to them and pray, making this short, to the point and winsome.  It is not the church’s responsibility to teach children, it is parents’ responsibility, Ephesians 6:4. Anything the local church does, must be regarded as “icing on the cake”, additional to the fundamental teaching in the home.

#6  Maintain order: children are children and parents are parents!
Paul insists on order, in Ephesians 6 when he says that parents are to bring up children, not the other way round.  In our culture where order has largely broken down and there is a great drive to so-called equality, parents are in great danger of treating their children as equals. This is a wrong – and dangerous move. Lead your children, you know best. Don’t tell them everything that is going on in your lives – they cannot handle adult issues. Don’t think of them as your "pals": they cannot handle an equal relationship with an adult.

#7 Remember that childhood is unique
“Train a child in the way he should go. And when he is older he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6). The Bible teaches that childhood is a one-way street; that which is formed in the early
years shapes the character of the adult for life.  Everything we know from science confirms this, and it makes those childhood years so important and crucial. What a great opportunity a parent has to shape the whole future course of life in the first few years of a child’s life! How much help we need from the Lord.

#8 Remember, parenting is not everything
It is quite possible to make idols of our children and idols of parenting. But there is more to life than children. One day they will leave us, and if our world revolves around them, either we will be bereft, or worse, we will manipulate them to continue bringing us the fulfilment only Christ can bring. Some parents neglect one another as soon as children come along. Sometimes temptation leads one of them astray, or perhaps they just drift apart and become strangers – who then don’t know each other when the children have fledged. A God-pleasing Christian life is a life where every part is put into proper place. Where husbands and wives continue to have time for one another, where children are never given the impression they are the family idols, where the Lord is pre-eminently served and worshipped.

Happy the home that welcomes You, Lord Jesus,
Truest of friends, most honoured guest of all,
Where hearts and eyes are bright with joy to greet You,
Your lightest wishes eager to fulfil.

Happy the home where men and wife together
Are of one mind believing in Your love:
Through love and pain, prosperity and hardship,
Through good and evil days Your care they prove.

Happy the home, O loving Friend of children,
Where they are giv’n to You with hands of prayer,
Where at Your feet they early learn to listen
To Your own words, and thank You for Your care.

JB Dykes