Your children should love the Lord, work hard, and experience the joy of trusting God. More important than leaving your children an inheritance is leaving them a spiritual heritage. If you left your children money they didn’t need, and if they were thinking correctly, wouldn’t they give it to God anyway? Then why not give it to God yourself, since He entrusted it to you?
Parents provoke their children to anger by not practicing biblical love, not considering their children as more important than themselves, and not dying to self to become a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God doesn’t provide many specific instructions about the parent-child relationship, except that parents should teach their children about God (Deut. 6:7; Prov. 1-9), discipline them (Prov. 23:13; Heb. 12:7-11), be thankful for them (Ps. 127:3-5), and not exasperate them (Eph. 6:4). Filling in the details depends on the family, the culture, the Spirit’s wisdom, and a whole lot of trial and error.
The default condition of our flesh is “earn it.” We enter the world in love with legalism. We are convinced that we can merit God’s favor. We love moralism, but we resist the gospel. Parents who understand this never cease preaching the gospel to themselves and their children.
The fear of God equips parents to overcome the fear of their children. They can disappoint their children, but they dare not disappoint God. Why? They believe that God is sovereign over their children’s hearts. God holds all the strings. He is in control. Those who really believe this are free to be God pleasers rather than child fearers. Parents lacking this confidence will often be slaves to their children’s approval. Parents who fear God have only one audience: God. If they please Him, they are confident that He will produce the results they seek in their children.
There is a fine line between healthy parental love and child worship. We know the latter has happened when we begin compromising God’s will for the sake of our children or their activities… Compromise always points to idolatry. It displeases God. He does not like competitors, especially when they are our children.
Effective parents equip their children to overcome the world – not by changing and controlling their environment (things external to their children), but by going after their children’s hearts. We change their hearts by teaching the gospel, modeling the gospel, and centering our homes on the gospel. The gospel, rightly understood and modeled, makes Christianity attractive. Effective parents make the gospel so attractive that the world cannot get a foothold in their children’s hearts.
If you neglect to instruct [your children] in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No; if you will not teach them to pray, he will to curse, swear, and lie; if ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring.
If you neglect to instruct them in the way of holiness, will the devil neglect to instruct them in the way of wickedness? No, no, if you will not teach them to pray, he will teach them to curse, swear and lie. If ground be uncultivated, weeds will spring up.
The Puritan ethic of marriage was to look not for a partner whom you do love passionately at this moment, but rather for one whom you can love steadily as your best friend for life, and then to proceed with God’s help to do just that. The Puritan ethic of nurture was to train up children in the way they should go, to care for their bodies and souls together, and to educate them for sober, godly, socially useful adult living. The Puritan way of home life was based on maintaining order, courtesy and family worship. Goodwill, patience, consistency and an encouraging attitude were seen as the essential domestic virtues.
We learn from Jesus that we should not look down on children because they are not fully grown and hence are of lower social status than adults. Like Jesus, we should treat children with respect and dignity, as unique and precious creatures made by God and valuable in His sight. What is more, contrary to our national inclination that may tell us that we can learn nothing from children and that the relationship is strictly one-way from parent or adult to child, we should look at children also from the vantage point of desirable kingdom traits they may exemplify in a more pronounced way than we do ourselves.
It is critical that parents teach children the importance of obedience. Parents who neglect to hold their children accountable for rendering obedience fail them in that they do not help them along the path of Christian discipleship, of which obedience is a central component. Hence the primary importance of obedience is not for parents to receive their children’s obedience, but for parents to help children to learn to exercise obedience ultimately in their relationship with God.
What we desperately need is a return to the biblical principles of parenting. Christian parents don’t need new, shrink-wrapped programs; they need to apply and obey consistently the few simple principles that are clearly set forth for parents in God’s Word, such as these: Constantly teach your kids the truth of God’s Word (Dt. 6:7). Discipline them when they do wrong (Pr. 23:13-14). And don’t provoke them to anger (Col. 3:21). Those few select principles alone, if consistently applied, would have a far greater positive impact for the typical struggling parent than hours of discussion about whether babies should be given pacifiers, or what age kids should be before they’re permitted to choose their own clothes, or dozens of similar issues that consume so much time in the typical parenting program.
We would not be surprised if the apostle Paul took a whole chapter, or even an entire epistle, to outline the responsibilities of parents. Instead, he summarized all of parenting in a single verse, and he was able to do so because the task is so highly defined. “Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
What Scripture says about parenting is actually quite simple and straightforward: You have a depraved and foolish child, and if you want him not to be so foolish, spank him (Proverbs 22:15). You have a solemn responsibility before God to provide an environment of nurture and instruction where your child will constantly be exposed to God’s truth (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). In short, you need to be careful not to provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Don’t just teach your children external self-control; train them to understand temptation and resist it. Don’t just teach them manners; teach them why pride is sinful and why greed, lust, selfishness, and covetousness dishonor God. Punish them for external offenses, but teach them that the root issue is always a deeper problem – corruption in their hearts. When you correct them, don’t do it merely to satisfy you as the offended, irritated, frustrated parent. That’s anger; it’s vengeance. But when you correct them help them to see that it is first of all God who has been offended and that He offers reconciliation through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
There are really two major obstacles all parents face in teaching their children to obey: not only is the world they live in corrupt, but they themselves are sinful creatures too. They face a difficult struggle both inside and outside.
Children have a heart problem. They are constitutionally sinful. Like their parents, and like the rest of the Adamic race, they are fallen. What they need most are regenerate hearts. This is the most fundamental issue in parenting. It’s not ultimately about behavior; it’s all about the child’s heart.
A study was conducted several years ago covering a span of years by sociologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck from Harvard and they identified after all of this study four crucial factors in predicting children who were not delinquents. This was a multi-year study and it was found to be 90 percent accurate. They said these are the four essential factors to prevent delinquency, just purely from the observation of those worldly people. One, the father’s discipline, fair, firm and consistent. Two, the mother’s supervision in the home, knowing where the children are all the time, knowing what they’re doing and being available to them. Three, the parents unceasing affection demonstrated to each other and to the children frequently. And fourthly, the family’s cohesiveness, time spent together.
How can you provoke your child into anger (Eph. 6:24)?… Here are some easy steps:
1. Spoil him.
2. Give him everything he wants, even more than you can afford. Just charge it so you can get him off your back.
3. When he does wrong, nag him a little but don’t spank him.
4. Foster his dependence on you. Don’t teach him to be independently responsible. Maintain his dependence on you so later drugs and alcohol can replace you when he’s older.
5. Protect him from all those mean teachers who want to discipline him from time to time. And threaten to sue them if they don’t let him alone.
6. Make all of his decisions for him because he might make mistakes and learn from them if you don’t.
7. Criticize his father to him, or his mother, so your son or daughter will lose respect for his parents.
8. Whenever he gets into trouble, bail him out. Besides if he faces any real consequence, it might hurt your reputation.
9. Never let him suffer the consequences of his behavior. Always step in and solve his problems for him so he will depend on you and run to you when the going gets tough and never learn how to solve his problems.
10. If you want to turn your child into a delinquent, let him express himself anyway he feels like it.
11. Don’t run his life, let him run yours.
12. Don’t bother him with chores. Do everything for him then he can be irresponsible all his life and blame others when things don’t get done right.
13. Be sure to give in when he throws a temper tantrum.
14. Believe his lies because it’s too much hassle to try to sort through to get the truth.
15. Criticize others openly; criticize others routinely so that he will continue to realize that he is better than everybody else.
16. Give him a big allowance and don’t make him do anything for it.
17. Praise him for his good looks, never for character.
How do parents provoke their children? Here are some of the ways:
3. Overemphasizing achievement
6. Failure to make personal sacrifices
7. Failure to allow for childish limitations
9. Physical and verbal abuse.
Our objective should be to so train (our children) that their thoughts and attitudes and actions begin to reflect and manifest a likeness to the lifestyle of a Christian described in the Word of God. Whether they become successful in business, whether they become good athletes or musicians, whether they are handsome or beautiful, whether they get straight A’s in school are matters of little consequence in comparison with the matter of becoming holy and godly and mature Christians.
[Mothers], our daughters will be products of their theology. Their knowledge – or lack of knowledge – of who God is and what He has done for them will show up in every attitude, action, and relationship. Their worldview will be determined by their belief system. We must teach our daughters that their value and identity lie in the fact that they are image-bearers of the God of glory. This will protect them from seeking significance in the inconsequential shallowness of self-fulfillment, personal happiness, materialism, or others’ approval. Our daughters must know the wondrous truth that their overarching purpose in life is God’s glory (Susan Hunt).
[Affection] is one of the key ingredients in the socialization of a child. Without it, a child may seem to assimilate the values taught by the parents without actually adopting them. Proper [affection] prepares the child mentally and emotionally to accept moral tenets and correct patterns for relationships with other people (James Robison).
Use working definitions [with your children]:
1. Obedience is doing what someone says, right away, without being reminded.
2. Honor is treating people as special, doing more than what’s expected, and having a good attitude.
3. Perseverance is hanging in there even after you feel like quitting.
4. Attentiveness is showing people you love them by looking at them when they say their words.
5. Patience is waiting with a happy heart.
6. Self-discipline is putting off present rewards for future benefits.
7. Gratefulness is being thankful for the things I have instead of grumbling about the things I don’t have (Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller).
Exasperate – Goading [your children] into perpetual resentment through hypocrisy or neglect (Todd Murray).
Parents, determine to make your children obey you, though it may cost you a lot of trouble, and cost them many tears. Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing, and delaying. When you give them a command, let them clearly see that you expect them to do it.
Teach them to obey while they are young, or else they will be protesting against God all their lives, and wear themselves out with the vain idea of being independent of His control… That child’s character in the end will be self-will, pride, and conceit. Is it any wonder that men refuse to obey their Father who is in heaven, if you allow them, when children, to disobey their father who is on earth.
Nineteen Ways to Exasperate Your Child
1. Failure to be happy, hopeful and confident in God
2. Endless criticism/fault-finding
3. Failure to listen
4. Nagging/deriding their efforts
5. Constant yelling
6. Failure to spend time individually with children
7. Unfair, harsh, inconsistent, or nonexistent discipline
8. Conflicting messages
9. Unwillingness to admit personal sin/seek child’s forgiveness
10. Unapproachable disposition
11. Deferred aggression
12. Lack of encouragement/compliments
14. Partiality/favoritism between children
15. Setting unrealistic goals/expectations
16. Failure to show love/affection
17. Neglect (physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually)
18. Lack of standards/double standards
19. Unwillingness to model desired behavior.
What’s my goal for my kids? Is it just to keep them off drugs, get good grades and come out to church with the family? That might make for training a good American, but not necessarily for training a good Christian. I want my children to see their role as a Christian is not only preventing themselves from being stained by the world (here is where many Christian parents stop), but also empowered by the Holy Spirit to be used as an agent to transform the world. It’s helping them to understand, modeling it for them and giving them opportunities to be ambassadors for Christ.
You see, the home is the greenhouse to protect and nurture our children. And when it is done right, children come to appreciate and trust their parent’s instruction. After time they come to understand that their rules are intended for good. They begin to see the parallel that the same applies for the rules God gives to us as well. They understand these rules come from a loving spiritual Father that desires our lives to be blessed. Consequences result when children disobey their parents. Consequences always result with people disobey God.
If you want to raise a Pharisee, just follow these simple steps (sarcasm!). 1. Make the Christian home all about rule-keeping (do’s and don’t’s), but never explain to them why we should follow God’s Word. 2. Add your own rules to God’s Word and make them more important than God’s Word. 3. Strictly enforce the rules on your children, but give yourself a pass. 4. Show your children nothing about grace, forgiveness, mercy and love. 5. Preach at them until they are blue in the face (bore them with the Bible) and never listen to what they have to say about God’s Word. 6. Make Jesus a burden rather than a blessing – make God’s Word a bondage rather than a liberation. 7. Give them no opportunity to think spiritually for themselves. 8. Fail to guide them in a spiritual worldview – teaching them how to process life with the Bible. 9. Praise their externals regardless of their motives. 10. Teach them to obey only because they have to and not because they should also want to as God’s commands come from a loving and trustworthy Father. 11. Make your disciple punishment rather than correction. 12. Demand self-reformation, rather than pointing them to Christ-transformation by grace. 13. Teach them to obey you as God rather than to obey God by obeying you. 14. Use Scripture and church as punishment. 15. Never pray for them. 16. Correct them more than you encourage them. 17. Beat your kids into external conformity, often to simply make yourself look good and do nothing to shepherd their hearts.
Of course all good parenting must point out error. We know the Law is a tutor (Gal. 3:24) and children with soft hearts will experience guilt. They will want the guilt removed. The solution to that must not be achieved in parental or self-inflicted punishment. The solution is to flee to Christ for grace and mercy.
What does your child think about television? Do they say, “All television shows are to be forbidden for every Christian.” That’s Pharisaical legalism filled with judgmentalism and self-righteousness. Or do they say, “All television shows are fine because TV’s are not condemned in the Bible.” That is mindless living with a total insensitivity to personal godliness and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The best response would be, “I personally choose to avoid these types of shows as a result of biblical principles and a conscience shaped by the Holy Spirit through prayer.” That’s what we are shooting for as parents!
We teach our children about the world and the Bible. We teach them that the world is bad (1 Jn. 2:15). And we teach them that the Bible is good (Pr. 16:20). That is true, but our children are rarely taught (guided) as to how the two intersect with each other. The result is that they will either be seduced by the world or they will be cocooned from the world. Both are useless to Jesus. The desired biblical mindset is when Christians reject the influence of the world (see it for the deceptive garbage that it is), but desire to love and influence those trapped the world.
For example, there is a special favor placed on the firstborn because of the excitement that surrounded your first child or the maturity she has as the oldest when compared to her siblings. There is a special favor placed on the youngest because he or she needs an advocate as the “baby” of the family. Gender can be a source of favoritism as dads can overly gravitate to their sons and moms to their daughters. Favoritism can also be developed when one child, like Esau, appeals to the interest of a parent – the dad who always wanted to be an athlete and is now living his dreams through his gifted son. Maybe it is the child who everybody loves or is highly successful in school and the parents show greater fondness toward her because of what she contributes to the family’s reputation and the parents’ esteem as to what they produced. The examples continue…
Parents, by nature, your children want to feel special. Will they learn that from you? And will you reject the superficial spoiling, self-esteem movement, permissive attitudes and worthless flattering in your efforts to achieve it? Start with God’s image. Then cultivate their love for God’s image. Then show Christ as the solution to repair God’s image. Nurture their relationship with Christ toward His causes. Only then will our children find their worth in life.
Perhaps most of all, our children need to hear that we love them. And why do we love them? Simply because they are our children. Period! They do not earn our love, nor can they lose our love regardless of what they do. This is modeling the divine love of God. Why does He love us? Because He chooses to do so. The love is unconditional and not based on our performance. And the Bible says the only reason we love Him is because He first loves us (1 Jn. 4:19). And how did He show that loved? Through His own sacrifice. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Children can easily see where your priorities are and where your love is directed.
Begin early to teach, for children begin early to sin.
When we get right down to specific principles of child-training, the Bible does not have a great deal to say directly. But when we understand the great principle established in this verse [Eph. 6:4], the Bible becomes an inexhaustible source-book for successful child training.
1. Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his soul.
2. Teach him to pray as soon as he can speak.
3. Give him nothing he cries for and only what is good for him if he asks for it politely.
4. To prevent lying, punish no fault which is freely confessed, but never allow a rebellious, sinful act to go unnoticed.
5. Commend and reward good behavior.
6. Strictly observe all promises you have made to your child.
Recognizing what you are unable to do is essential to good parenting. God has tasked parents with many things, but nowhere in His word has He tasked you with the responsibility to create heart change.
The foolishness inside your children is more dangerous to them than the temptation outside of them.
Fourteen Christian Principles of Parenting. Desiring God Website, You Don’t Need More Parenting Advice, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-dont-need-more-parenting-advice
You are parenting a worshiper, so it’s important to remember that what rules your child’s heart will control his behavior.
Fourteen Christian Principles of Parenting. Desiring God Website, You Don’t Need More Parenting Advice, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-dont-need-more-parenting-advice
Determinism makes parents conclude that good shaping influences will automatically produce good children. This often bears bitter fruit later in life. Parents who have an unruly and troublesome teenager or young adult conclude that the problem is the shaping influences they provided. They think if they had made a little better home, things would have turned out OK. They forget that the child is never determined solely by shaping influences of life. Remember that Proverbs 4:23 instructs you that the heart is the fountain from which life flows. Your child’s heart determines how he responds to your parenting.
Behavior is heart driven, therefore, correction, discipline and training – all parenting – must be addressed to the heart. The fundamental task of parenting is shepherding the hearts of your children.
Communication must be multi-faceted and richly textured. It must include encouragement, correction, rebuke, entreaty, instruction, warning, understanding, teaching and prayer. All these must be part of your interaction with your children.
I have used the phrase “shepherding the heart” to embody the process of guiding our children. It means helping them understand themselves, God’s world, the ways of God, how sin works in the human heart, and how the gospel comes to them at the most profound levels of human need. Shepherding the hearts of children also involves helping them understand their motivations, goals, wants, wishes and desires. It exposes the true nature of reality and encourages faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You undertake the shepherding process through (this) kind of rich, mulit-faceted communication.
Children trust you when they know you love them and are committed to their good, when they know you understand them, when they know you understand their strengths and weaknesses, when they know that you have invested yourself in encouragement, correction, rebuke, entreaty, instruction, warning, understanding, teaching and prayer. When a child knows that all his life you have sought to see the world through his eyes, and that you have not tried to make him like you or like anyone but a creature God made to know Him and live in the relationship of fellowship and communication with God for which he was made, he will trust you.
You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling. You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You cannot do so without investing yourself in a life of sensitive communication in which you help them understand life and God’s world. There is nothing more important. You have only a brief season of life to invest yourself in this task. You have only one opportunity to do it. You cannot go back and do it over… To do this job of parenting well, it must be a primary task. It is your primary calling.
Your children are the product of two things. The first – shaping influence, is their physical make-up and their life experience. The second – Godward orientation, determines how they interact with that experience. Parenting involves 1) providing the best shaping influences you can and 2) the careful shepherding of your children’s responses to those influences.
Obedience is out of vogue in our culture. You can find classes that provide assertiveness training. Try to find classes in submissiveness training! Obedience is the willing submission of one person to the authority of another. It means more than a child doing what he is told. It means doing what he is told; Without Challenge, Without Excuse, and Without Delay.
Remember, (your child’s) behavior does not just spring forth uncaused. His behavior – the things he says and does – reflects his heart. If you are to really help him, you must be concerned with the attitudes of heart that drive his behavior. A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable. Is it not the hypocrisy that Jesus condemned in the Pharisees? In Matthew 15, Jesus denounces the Pharisees who honored Him with their lips while their hearts were far from Him. Jesus censures them as people who wash the outside of the cup while the inside is still unclean. Yet this is what we often do in child-rearing. We demand changed behavior and never address the heart that drives the behavior.
Parenting needs to move from simply providing for physical needs like food, shelter, and clothing and for the emotional and social well-being of children to providing for the nurture of their souls, for their spiritual well-being. Parenting needs to move from simply protecting them from bad people and physical harm to protecting them from the Evil One and from a world view that leaves God out. Parenting needs to move from focusing primarily on their behavior to focusing primarily on their heart. Parenting needs to move from merely telling them what they should do to showing them how through the parents’ own example.
Parents who want a child to live wisely must train him according to the wisdom of God. Put him under the church’s teaching. Pray for him. Do not indulge him by allowing him to rule the family; instead, rule him with firm and consistent love. Be in travail to see Christ formed in his soul.
Parents, when you give in to anger, resentment or self-pity at your children’s bad behavior, you make yourself the center of the problem. You are loving yourself first and most. You must love your kids enough to show them the danger of their behavior. They need to see that their first problem is with God, and only secondarily with you.