Is it just me or is everyone a parenting expert these days? All I want to do is raise healthy, normal, well-adjusted children but it seems no matter what I try someone sees fault in it. What is normal anyway? The picturesque dream of a family with two parents and 2.5 children is long gone.
So where do I look for parenting advice? I'm drowning in insecurity and political correctness. Some people tell me it's my fault for being too strict. Others say it's my kids for being too defiant. I know the Bible has lots to say on parenting but isn't it a bit old school? However, it seems every book or show or website about parenting has contradicting advice these days—each “revolutionary” parenting method flies in the face of the last one. How can I know what is right?
Difficulties we face as parents stem either from problems within ourselves as selfish sinful individuals living among other sinners in a fallen world, or from our children who are selfish sinful individuals living among other sinners in a fallen world. Apart from the grace of God and following the truth of His Word, we cannot hope to parent successfully.
God provides redemption from our sin and a fallen world through the death of Jesus Christ. Embracing Christ as Saviour and Lord is the foundation for successful parenting.
A successful parent is one who has received the unconditional love of God, conveys it fully to his or her children, and helps create in them the ability to live according to godly values.
Scripture provides direction and is a framework for parents on which to fulfil their God-given roles.
- Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) but belong to Him. Parents are stewards of their children. Each one is unique and is to be raised according to that uniqueness (Proverbs 22:6).
- Children are to be taught to love God, and honour and obey their parents; Parents are to not exasperate but teach and lead them in the way of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4).
- Parents are to love their children unconditionally and continuously train them (Proverbs 19:18; 29:17). Discipline includes all forms of correction.
- God models perfect parenting to us (Hebrews 12:5-11).
- Keep growing personally and spiritually. Loving the Lord with all your heart is the best way to be the kind of parent your children need. Expose your children to your walk with the Lord teaching them as you pray, read your Bible, and practice spiritual disciplines.
- Teach your children continually, guiding them not only when they fail but at all times in between (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Watch for teachable moments that occur every day.
- Children need the security of boundaries. Establish and communicate clear and consistent boundaries and expectations, as well as the consequences for breaking them. Model the values you desire your children to embrace.
- When you make mistakes or sin against your children be humble enough to admit wrongdoing and ask their forgiveness.
- Model honouring and valuing your spouse. Honour your parents so your children see what it means to do so (Ephesians 6:2, 3).
- Never humiliate your child or discipline when you are angry. Know the difference between childish irresponsibility and rebellion. Discipline is always with a view to correction not punishment.
- Establish your authority as a parent when they are young through loving discipline. Maintain your influence in their lives as they grow into adults through loving, open lines of communication. Love your young adult and adult children even though you don't always agree with their choices.