If Jesus were a parent today, He would establish a no-nonsenseplan of action centered in the Word of God.
Christian parents have a responsibility to raise their kids to meet the challenges of life. To help parents meet this challenge, the Word contains guidelines that include setting examples for children, disciplining kids, understanding and loving their children, and practicing tough love in appropriate situations.
Understand the Influence of Parenting
Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. —Deuteronomy 5:16
This commandment for children can be challenging for a child without good parental leadership. To honor a parent means to show respect and fulfill an agreement. When parents live a life contrary to the Word, or do not set up clear guidelines for obedience, children have difficulty keeping this commandment.
God understood this when He chose Joseph and Mary to parent His Son. Jesus parents raised Him according to the Word of God. His parents watched over Him and willingly enforced obedience.
In Luke 2:41-52, we read that Joseph and Mary discovered Jesus was missing. They immediately returned to Jerusalem, found Him, and brought Him home. Jesus returned with them and was subject to them.
Set an Example for Your Children.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. —Proverbs 22:6
Parents are the biggest influence in a child’s life. As children grow, they unwittingly emulate parental behaviors, and model parent’s choices. Knowing this, parents need to be conscious of what they watch on television, the movies they rent, the music they listen to, and the hours they spend on the computer.
Parents are the ones who purchase video games, movie tickets, and cable/digital television. Refusing to purchase movie tickets or games that promote violence or lifestyle contrary to the Word of God reinforces parental values. Setting up parental controls on the cable channels enforces parental beliefs.
Parents can establish regular prayer time, both with the children and for themselves. Show your children that you revere God, value prayer, and take time to read the Word.
In addition to joining a community of believers, parents can openly practice charity, kindness, love for others, and an attitude of respect for leadership and those in authority.
Parents should develop guidelines for acceptable behavior in the home, towards other family members, and with regard to people in general.
Discipline Your Children
The Word is very clear regarding parental correction and consequences of disobedience. Communicate your expectations to your children, along with the consequences. Children cannot obey the rules if they do not know them, or if the rules change depending on how the parent feels.
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. —Proverbs 23:13
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. —Proverbs 13:24
God is not suggesting that parents “beat” children. However, God does want parents to correct their children. Although modern society frowns on corporal punishment, a timely pat on the bottom or hand can or “time outs” work wonders for a toddler. However, when a child is older, a consistent, fair system of discipline works well. When children have guidelines, they are more secure and emotionally confident.
The system of discipline should consider the personality of the individual child. Unfortunately, parenting multiple kids is not a ‘one size fits all’ system. Many children are naturally compliant; however, you may have a strong-willed child. James Dobson has an excellent book, The New Strong-Willed Child to help in this situation.
Consequences need to be age-appropriate. These can including withholding something from the child, but never withhold love. Remind your children that the things they receive from you are a blessing, and, if they do not want the blessing, it is theirs to refuse.
Develop Rules with Love and Respect Your Children
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. —Ephesians 6:4
The Word cautions parents not to provoke their children to anger. Even in discipline, parents need to be mindful of the child’s personality. Some children respond to a stern word, and never need corporal punishment. Some children are strong-willed and defiant by nature.
Whatever the personality of your children, review your rules. Ensure the guidelines set for children are centered important principles. A child who does not eat all his dinner may not be disobedient but simply not hungry.
The natural tendency to nag a child can be replaced by telling them once, then applying a consequence. This will avoid confrontation and potential anger.
Avoid comparing children to each other. This fosters strife and rivalry between siblings, and can cause a child to feel he is less than the child to whom he is being compared.
Parents do not need to control a child’s every move. Let them move freely within the guidelines. If the child makes a mistake, remind him of the rules. If a child deliberately disobeys, then enforce the discipline. However, once the deed is done, there is no need to bring the situation up repeatedly or in similar situations.
Take Responsibility and Practice Tough Love
God does place the responsibility of children’s behavior on the parents. The Word even tells parents how to handle a rebellious grown child.
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. —Deuteronomy 21:18-21
We do not stone our children, but you can let them know that, even though you love them, you will not tolerate the behavior. At this point, parents can practice ‘tough love’ in order require the child to take responsibility for his or her actions.