I recently spent some time studying what the Bible says about parenting. For 2 reasons:
- I need all the help I can get in parenting. I have 3 sons age two and under, and I am beginning to realize that I may not know what all I have gotten myself into.
- The Bible is the authority. So if it has something to say about parenting, I need to know it. God is the best father there has ever been and ever will be.
Growing up I had great parents. My mother and father did an awesome job of raising me. As I continue to grow up and become more and more like my parents, I am amazed at how much better at parenting my parents were than I seem to be. So I thank God for their example that I continue look to and learn from.
Here is one of the many stories of my mothers parenting:
When I was a young boy (maybe 5 years old) I was out playing in the neighborhood with other friends when my mom over heard me saying something that I should not say. I do not think it was a bad cuss word, but perhaps just something that isn’t nice. She did not yell at me to ‘not talk like that.’ Instead, she came over to me, grabbed me by the arm or ear, and walked me all the way back through our yard, through the door, into the house, down the hall, into the bathroom of my parents bedroom, reached under the sink, pulled a bar of Dial soap, tore the wrapper off, and proceeded to stuff the entire bar of soap in my mouth. She was washing my filthy mouth out with soap! After that disgusted me for a few minutes or so, she then calmly taught me that I will not talk like that. And anytime I ever do it again, I will eat the soap again. To this day, some 25 years later, I remember it clearly, and I have never desired to speak with filth. It worked. And I am thankful for my mom’s parenting in that regard.
Now to what the Bible says about parenting children (my desire is for God to use what He tells me along with what my parents modeled for me). I want to focus on 2 points of Scripture: 1) Do not hinder them (Matt. 19:14) and 2) bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
All of parenting is doing either of these two things. We are either helping them see the ways of the Lord or we are causing them to not know His ways.
It is often well-intended but unfortunate when parents say their goal in parenting is to raise their kids into good adults who know how to handle lives on their own and not get in trouble. That is good, but that is certainly not the end. I sure hope not. For several reasons, 1) God is the point of life. He is the answer, the key, and the goal. 2) True joy comes from Him, not other things. 3) Anything that doesn’t have Him at the forefront is sin. Good, responsible, polite, successful adults who don’t follow Christ are in sin. 4) No Christ leads to judgement and hell. No parent should be ok with leading their child to hell as long as they were good adults.
So, we desire to be parents who are conscious of and focused on not hindering our children in living lives toward Jesus, but instead we want to diligently with much patience and concentration bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
All this means that our primary goal in parenting is to be sure that our children are learning what God is like (the discipline and instruction of the Lord) by the way we lead and love them. In everything we do, they should be learning more and more about God. And we have to make sure of this. Anything other than that is hindering them. Its leading them in the wrong direction. My fatherhood to my children should reflect the Fatherhood of God to His people. The more inconsistent my parenting is with the way God is the more they are misled.
For example, Parents give their teenagers a curfew. Lets say it is 11pm. On several occasions, I have seen teenagers come home after 11pm, ignoring the parents rule, almost laughing while saying “it will be fine, my parents won’t do anything.” And then the teenager gets home late. Thats disobedience. Well, this parenting is hindering the children. Because God is NOT like this. God does not make rules for us and then not care whether we obey them.
God’s instruction is good for us. He knows what is best for us. His law is intended for our good. And He will not be mocked. He will not be pushed around. He will discipline.
So in this small simple example, as far as the parents are inconsistent with the way God is, their children are hindered from knowing the instruction and discipline of the Lord. But as far as the parents are consistent with the way God is, their children are brought up in it. Its awesome!
Now its a lot easier said than done. And it is a big task. Parenting is a HUGE responsibility. I am only saying what I know God teaches. Mine are still young, and I will have a much better perspective 15 years from now.
Finally, we should all consider ourselves blessed beyond measure that God would allow us to have children. It is wonderful to know that God uses us to show Himself to our children. Parenting for God is overwhelming, but it is sweet and magnificent and glorious.
I have seen families that are so impressive because of how well the children seem to know and understand God, and that is because of the parents devotion to making sure that is what their parenting points them to.
May God give us grace to parent this way! Here are some Bible passages that will help.
Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
2 Timothy 3:14-15 “But as for you continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Proverbs 29:15 “the rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
Proverbs 13:24, 22:6, 23:13-14, 24