The following is a paper I wrote as a result of a discussion I was having with a neighbor about our parenting philosophy:
A Good Foundation – Christian Parenting
Nate and I do everything through the lens of our biblical understanding of what parenting should be. We believe that parenting – and mothering in particular (Titus 2:3-5, Proverbs 31:10-31) – is a God ordained occupation. There are many bible verses about parenting, our relationship with our children, and examples of good (and bad) parenting. Our relationship with our children should model God’s relationship with us. As such, our goal as parents should be to raise God-fearing, independent, and self-sufficient adults.
1 Children – our lives do not revolve around them
While they do tend to take up a large portion of our time and energy (especially for the stay at home parent and when they are really little), they should not be treated as the center of our universe. The plan God has for family order actually places them at the bottom of the chain of command. God->Father->Mother->children. That means that we should teach them to respect other people’s time and space, ie no toys or playing in mom and dad’s bedroom, tantrums in shared spaces will be moved into their room immediately (which is their personal space), no interrupting phone conversations, etc. The world will not place them on a throne and give them everything they want exactly when they want it, so why should we do so at home?
This also means that we need to teach them to be independent. We have things we need to do during the day other than paying 100% attention to our children. They should have some portion of their time to do stuff on their own while we fix dinner or pay bills.
2 Children honor your parents, Parents respect your children
Respect and obedience are not just nice-to-haves, they are a commandment (Ephesians 6:1-4). Children must learn that this is the way things go and God’s plan for their relationship with their parents. Parents must take the time to provide the discipline (not just spankings, but training and guidance) in order to not “exasperate” their children. And you can’t just do it part of the time, you have to respond when the bad behavior occurs with a consistent consequence that is appropriate for the behavior. That also means “do as I say, not as I do” is out the window. Parents need to model the behavior they want their children to exhibit. The rules need to be the same for all children (by all caregivers) and there should be no favoritism. Sometimes this means that we aren’t their favorite person on the planet, but research has shown that children who have rules feel more loved and safe. Parents also need to apologize when they mess up. This models an appropriate way to handle our sin as well as our expectations for when they mess up.
3 We need to pray for our children and with our children
We can’t do it by ourselves. We have to admit this and move on. We need God’s divine hand in order to achieve our parenting goals. When I’m having a bad day, I remind myself that this is the job God has assigned to me, but he doesn’t leave me empty handed. He works with me. Say a little prayer, out loud. Pray with your children after they have had a timeout.
This also means that we need to take advantage of our friends and neighbors when they offer some relief. Or be willing to ask for help when we need a break. That’s what they are there for.
Parenting Bible Verses
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2″Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3″that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”[a]4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
20 My son, keep your father’s commands
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them upon your heart forever;
fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For these commands are a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and the corrections of discipline
are the way to life,
5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”[a]
7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
1 John 4:7
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Continuing discussion with neighbor. . . as always, I welcome your opinion.
Parents are failing if they excuse their child’s behavior:
I believe that the best weapon the devil has in his arsenal is the ability to make us complacent. To convince us that something that God says is wrong is either not wrong or it can be acceptable in certain situations. I feel like this is what we are doing with our children’s behaviors. We have overeducated ourselves. Just because the experts tell us that it is ‘typical’ behavior for a 3 year old to throw temper tantrums, does not mean that it isn’t disrespectful and that it should be ignored or go unpunished. The only thing that is useful from this information is to be prepared for the behavior and how we think we as parents will respond to it. Just because we know why the child is behaving a certain way (they are hungry, or sleepy, or frustrated) doesn’t excuse the behavior. They need to be taught the appropriate response to their feelings/needs. This is where the verse about parents exasperating their children comes in. If we know something triggers a fit, we should try to keep that fit from occurring, maybe by using the example you stated of a verbal warning that “It’s ok to be frustrated, but not ok to scream.” But if the screaming happens anyway, we need to follow that up with discipline.
The experts also tell us that the teenage years are the rebellious ones, does that mean we should just accept it when our teenager yells at us or stays out past curfew? No. So why is it ok to smile sheepishly at our friends and say “oh the terrible twos” when our child is laying on the floor kicking and screaming. It’s not. I believe wholeheartedly that we can make all 18 years + of our child raising years easier by starting young and early.The experts tell us that the first 5 years of a child’s life are the most formative and best time to foster the behaviors we want them to exhibit. And the bible says the same thing, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6.
Hebrews 12:11 – ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ I want my children to have a harvest of righteousness and peace. What the experts say about how they should be behaving and what may be acceptable at school or in public by other people should have no bearing on how I follow the Lord’s instruction to raise my children and to discipline them.