Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. – Hebrews 12:6
Raising children successfully has been a difficulty even since Biblical times. With the decrease in the village-mentality, loads of psychology-based studies discussing harmful effects of certain things on children, and the extreme judgement of other parents, raising a child has become more difficult than ever. Add the other worldly influences that are becoming the normal standard for society, it starts to feel like there are walls blocking us from raising kind and Godly children while there are plenty of windows for immorality.
How do we begin raising Godly children? Believe it or not, it starts with our own relationship with God. Imagine trying to teach your child a complex math equation having no knowledge of how to do the problem yourself. While there are some parents that may be able to find a way to complete this very difficult task, trying to explain the beauty and the depth of God’s love for your child and the extent of his forgiveness of our sins, etc. is an impossible task without having first felt the kind of love that God has for us first. Even with this knowledge and understanding, it’s still a rather challenging feat to put those feelings into words! The best way to start is to have your own relationship with God and reflecting God’s parenting as you discipline your child.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. – Deuteronomy 6:5-7
The most vital aspect of discipline and raising God-honoring children is a thorough understanding of God’s attributes. The following are four ways God parents us. When we try to mimic and exercise His ways of parenting, we can teach our kids to walk in the “fear” of God and inspire them to have both a fascination and awe for our Father’s majesty.
God’s word is law.
Once you’ve established your own relationship with God and shared that relationship with your children, make it clear that the house rules will be based upon the rules given by God. God’s commandments and the other sins he mentions in his Word are absolute. Forget whatever recent study shows how such and such behavior could potentially cause your child to respond in such and such manner. These broad generalizations are more of a detriment to society and parenting than they have ever been a help- parents in today’s society are actually afraid to discipline their children for behaving badly because of judgement or even the fear that somehow their children might be taken away from them. (This is usually parents that believe in spanking that feel this way, which is mentioned as a tool of discipline in the Bible, but can even extend to parents that are afraid to raise their voices or even tell their child no due to another person’s negative reaction.)
God is a consistent Father.
The rules need to be known and enforced by both parents and both parents need to be in agreement about the terms of the punishment. Sometimes this is one of the most challenging parts of parenting as one parent often finds the punishment for certain crimes to be too harsh for the crime. In truth, most of the time it is we mothers that are trying to keep our children from getting the full amount of punishment for a misdeed, but occasionally fathers can feel this way as well. When setting up the rules of the house, sit down together and have a detailed conversation about situations that could arise in the household and discuss options for discipline. Find out what each of you are comfortable with doing- for example, one of you may be comfortable with spanking while the other is not. These are important things to discuss so that when an unplanned situation arises, both parents have a base of knowledge from which to determine discipline.
God teaches us to fish.
When instructing your children, try to approach them in a manner that they can understand why they are in trouble and why you are punishing them. If you give a man a fish… Think of this when dealing with your child. If you teach your child, through God’s word, the importance of certain behaviors, instead of simply demanding the behavior, you’ll be teaching a lifelong fisherman. For example, in some culture, everyone expects to be addressed as “Ma’am” or “Sir.” Some parents just tell their children to address people this way because ‘they say so,’ while others explain the importance of the respect that it shows for the person they’re addressing, especially when dealing with elders. Once children understand that it is a sign of respect and kindness, they’re much more likely to continue this practice without being prompted or reminded by parents.
God gets angry too.
Work diligently to teach your children the ways of the Lord, and remember to try and maintain patience with your children as often as possible. It’s perfectly alright and normal to get angry- even Jesus got angry and started flipping tables when he saw that merchants were selling good in the temple. God has even been known to get angry at his children at times- even opening the earth to swallow some of them up! Oddly, it is often the very people we love the most- such as our children- that have the ability to upset us the most. The tricky part is learning not to feel extremely guilty over feeling this way.
Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
Culture tells us that we need to be as easy as possible on our children so we don’t detriment their mental health in the future. What they don’t seem to have too many studies on is the massive amounts of stress and guilt that this places upon parents, especially mothers, everywhere. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stress, guilt, and feelings of judgement, pour your heart out to God and ask that he remove the doubt from your heart or provide you other ways to discipline your child that would make you feel more comfortable, but keep in mind that teaching your child the difference between right and wrong and to walk a Godly path is not an easy one..
Most often, it is the path less traveled.
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