Parenting is hard work, especially in today’s culture. Cell phones, social media, racial and political divides, and the barrage of sexual and gender identity issues have added a new set of ingredients to the parenting soup. Have do you navigate it all? Scripture has some timeless principles to remember and apply.
Now, before I share these 5 things, know that my wife and I are struggling in this journey with you. My wife and I are not experts; in fact, most days we feel like absolute novices trying to raise 5 kids. However, we hold to God’s promise in James 1:5 which says that if we lack wisdom we can ask of God and He will give it to us. So, here are 5 timeless principles from the Lord for struggling parents like us.
I truly believe this is the most important principle for parenting in today’s culture. Kids are under such pressure today to conform to a societal pattern that is so destructive and damaging. Home has got to be a safe place. Our children must know they are loved and valued no matter the decisions they make. Scripture tells us that love conquers all (1 Cor 13:8) and that the love of God draws us to repentance. It is the extravagant steadfast love of God that draws us to Him. We must tell our kids every day that we love them and they must feel and know this love to be real. Home must also be a safe place to ask questions and admit wrongs without condemnation. Our children must feel the freedom as they get older to confide in us, because our broken society today provides no answers, only more questions.
Now, our kids need love, but they don’t need another peer. They need godly adults in their lives as parents who will love them, listen to them, but then provide godly boundaries and counsel. John 1:14 says Jesus was full of grace and truth on this earth, and may I add He is still full of these. Jesus has the perfect balance of unfathomable love and strong conviction. We must pray for this daily as parents, for that balance between grace and truth. What are the boundaries in your home? How do you determine these boundaries? How committed are you to God’s Word in your home? Clear expectations and consequences give a child the best foundation for success. Remember, the bible is God’s love letter to us so read it, meditate on it, then apply it to your life and to your home.
You’re probably wondering why Christ isn’t first in this list. It’s because He’s not a priority, He’s the center of it all. Christ is not a part of our life, He is our life. Christ must be the center of your home, your marriage, and your relationships. This means all the time, money, and energy He gives to our families must be surrendered over to His will. Do you read the Bible and pray together as a family? Is corporate worship in a church a consistent part of your family life? Do you serve God together as a family? What about missions? If these things are not important to your family now they won’t be important to your kids later. And remember, our kids learn much more by our actions than our words. We can say we love God, but our children learn more by watching how we spend our time and money than by what we say.
We are now entering the world of middle school in our home. It is a whole new experience (and a scary one may I add!). What we are learning right now is to control less and converse more in our home. We have to talk this stuff out not just control the thought processes of our children. We have taught the Word of God from a very young age to our middle school daughter and soon to be middle school son. Now it’s time to give them some space to apply these principles to life. Also, we are asking God to make our children leaders and influencers for His Kingdom, so we now are focusing on influencing thought more than controlling actions. Do we have to intervene from time to time….yes. However, we do a lot less of that than we did in elementary school. Also, if you want leaders you have to treat them like leaders. What are their opinions on life, politics, relationships, faith, and other important issues? As they get older ask them about these things and show respect for their opinions. Let them build confidence in who God has created them and called them to be.
My wife and I are realizing now that we didn’t talk as much about our parenting philosophies before now as we thought we did. We assumed a lot of things of each other that were not necessarily true, so we are having to back up a little bit now and decide what our agreed upon values and philosophies are on raising our children. So, we are learning to show more consideration for one another. In a home with both mom and dad present we have to pray and talk together and show consideration to one another in love. In a Christian marriage God uses the experiences and vantage points of both to effectively lead the children. In a single parent home don’t bash the other parent, no matter how bad their parenting style may be or how much you disagree with it. Just address thoughts, values, and actions in your home when you’re together as best you can and pray for God to work in the other parent’s heart. When our kids see consideration and teamwork it builds safety into the home and brings peace to the situation.
Whew….this is tough isn’t it?! Thank God for His grace because we need it every day! In a world that is ever changing we can trust in our unchanging God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His promises are true, and His faithfulness endures throughout all generations. Trust in the timeless one and His Word and He will never let you down!