Saturday, February 12, 2011

Paradigm #4: It is our responsibility as Christian parents to train and discipline our children

Proverbs is replete with verses that tell us that it is the parents’ responsibility to train and discipline their children. Proverbs 13:24 says that if we love our children, we will discipline them: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” Prov 13:24 RSV.

One of the biggest downfalls of the whole idea of “discipline” is that we view it as a bad thing—as something we have to do when things are out of control. If we could change our “discipline” thinking from “I have to spank him ‘coz he just keeps it up” to “Disciplining my children (not necessarily just spanking just the entire discipline package—training, teaching, consequences, punishment) is what I do all of the time because I love them.”

Truly, a child feels loved and secure when he knows what is expected—when boundaries are set for him (since he is unable to set them for himself). Instead of looking at discipline is a last ditch effort to get control of our children, let’s look at it as part of the entire training package—loving, laughing, playing, training, disciplining, and more. Not a terrible thing we have to do—but part of the entire responsibility of raising our children for Christ.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Paradigm #3: Our parenting has a strong causal link to our children’s future choices

Taking this thinking that “children are given to us to raise for Him” further is whether we think that our training of our children will have any bearing on their future choices either for or against God. While God is sovereign and our children have free wills, there is evidence in society, as well as in Scripture, pointing to the fact that Christian parenting of our children can and does have significant influence over our kids.

First of all, in our society when a child with a strong Christian upbringing goes astray, others’ first comments are either, “I guess he got in with the wrong crowd” or “Of all families I know, I sure didn’t expect that from their family with all that his parents have done to teach him God’s ways.”

Likewise, when a child with a drunken or abusive parent chooses the wrong path, the first response likely given is, “That’s no surprise the way his parents treated him or didn’t teach him, etc.” These comments show us that in our heart of hearts we know that the type of upbringing children have truly does make a difference in their future life choices.

Secondly, while Proverbs are not direct promises or guarantees, they do point out the impact that Christian parents can make in the life of a child. This is evidenced in Proverbs 22:15, among other places: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (ASV).

I think all of us believe to some extent that children are born with sin natures, but believing that it is worth it to give this Christian parenting our all—and leave other things by the wayside during our kids’ growing up years—is a gamble that many are not willing to take.

Unless we firmly believe that there is a fairly significant causal link to our parenting and our children’s character/Christian living, it can become very difficult to really press on to what we know we should do in raising our children for the Lord. Add to that, our immediate-gratification society and personal habits—and we can easily lose sight of the fact that what we do today, this week, this month, and this year with and for our children in the areas of character training will pay off for them in the long run.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paradigm #2: Our view of mankind in general and children specifically

If we believe that people are basically good in themselves, there will be no need for ongoing, consistent, intensive training of our children. Why bother? If we believe that everybody really has a “good heart” and wants to “do right,” our children will turn out fine without character training.

If we, however, believe that man is born with a sin nature and is incapable of goodness outside of God, we will desire to seek God and help our children do the same. Scripture supports this belief, as evidenced in Romans 7:18—“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

Taking this “man is basically sinful” thinking a step further, we must also believe, that as wonderful, sweet, soft, cuddly, and incredible that children are, they, too, are born sinful. Obviously, children have some other qualities that adults do not have that make it easier for them to learn spiritual truths otherwise Scripture would not say that adults should “become like little children.” However, child-like faith aside, we must, if we are to embrace the importance of character training in the lives of our children, believe that Romans 7:18 applies to them, as demonstrated in Proverbs 22:15, among other places: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (ASV).

Nobody wants to think or talk about original sin, and yet, in parenting, not embracing this truth can lead us to extremely faulty child training (or lack thereof). I have the most incredible children in the world. Ask me about them for a few minutes, and you will get way more than you bargained for! However, they, just like their mom and dad, need the Savior for eternal salvation and the Holy Spirit to help them live the Christian life on this earth. They (and we) will not automatically be filled with good character. Because of our sinful nature, we must, through the Lord, learn about, practice, and press on to the fruit of the spirit, the mind of Christ—and everything else that is good.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Paradigm #1: Purpose for Having Children

Great Bible scholars are known for their timeless sayings, such as “What we believe about God is the most important belief we have,” etc. If I could rather humbly borrow that thought and apply it to parenting, I would say that “What we believe about why we have children is one of the most important parenting beliefs we have.”

Moreover, it is not just important, but crucial, in how we parent. Do we believe that we have children to satisfy us, to make us happy, to fulfill us, to show off (!), or to “carry on our family name”?

Or do we believe that we should do as Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) says, and seek God and his righteousness—and our children are those things added to our lives (and to help us further) as we seek God’s kingdom: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added.”

Obviously, children can add greatly to our lives—and they are amazing and important. They have the potential to bring unspeakable joy to our souls. However, we should not desire children simply for our own happiness, but rather as a way for the Lord to bless us and use us in furthering His kingdom.

If this is the case, we will not look at children as merely “toys” or “accessories,” but rather as the huge responsibility that they really are to “bring up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 NIV).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Parenting Paradigms for Character Training—Part I of Many (!)

Aside from modeling character in the lives of parents, the best advice we can give in starting early character training is to develop a parenting paradigm that is consistent with what Scripture says about children and parenting. We hesitate to say that “our way” is “the Bible’s way” when it comes to parenting; however, the foundational beliefs that a person espouses concerning parenting and children dictate how he or she parents, regardless of whether that paradigm is “the Bible’s way” or “man’s way.”

Consider the text from a slide from our “Character Training From the Heart” parenting seminar (below) —and see if you believe it is true. If you do, read on in the upcoming days to see why we feel that these eight “parenting paradigms” are crucial in training our children.

Our “parenting paradigm” will dictate every decision we make in our parenting—from how and whether we discipline our children; to whether or not we teach them God’s Word; to what kinds of peers we allow them to be with; to the numbers and types of activities they are involved in; to what our lives look like in our homes on a daily basis.

Over the next two weeks, we will examine what we feel are eight “essential” parenting paradigms that dictate how we parent our children—and how much character training takes place in our homes.

Join us tomorrow for Paradigm #1: Purpose for having children.