More and more in my ministry I am approached with questions from parents on how to handle or deal with their children. Raising our children is a tremendous God given responsibility and the Word of God has much to say on this topic. While this compact list will not cover the extent of parenting – these tend to be my top five “go-to” topics for parenting advice:
- You are the Parent – not your child’s friend. God holds the parents responsible for raising children that will glorify the Lord. Parents are handed the God-given task of teaching, correcting, disciplining, encouraging, nurturing and providing for their children – not the government, not the schools and not the church. Proverbs 22:6
- Follow through, follow through, follow through. More than any other one area I witness so many parents failing at is this – they do not follow through. They know what the children should do, then communicate that to their children, but they fall short of making sure it is done. I’ve seen parents tell their fourth grader for days on end to “clean up your room” – but the child doesn’t do it and there are no consequences for the action.
- Consequences – not exaggerations. Children need consequences for their actions but so often parents make outlandish exaggerations in the form of threats that they have no intention of carrying out. There needs to be direct, realistic consequences for wrong doing such as: “If you don’t clean up your room you will not be playing video games tonight”, or “since you failed to turn in your homework at school today you will not be getting ice cream after the game tonight”. Reasonable and carried out consequences. I have heard parents at church tell their child “if you don’t get in the car right now I will leave you here”. No they won’t and their child knows it.
- Don’t set a rule you cannot make them carry out. If you make a rule or a command of your child you better be able to carry it out. There will come a time when they are just too big to make them do certain things. If you have done your work when they are young – this won’t be a problem when they are older.
- Pick your battles wisely. Another thing I see all too often are parents correcting their child for frivolous things. Sometimes boys are boys and are going to get dirty or mess things up and sometimes girls are going to cry for no apparent reason. This is who they are. We need to correct behavior and attitudes not be correcting things that we find annoying or loud or just don’t understand.