Parenting can be such a challenge.
- Sin outside our home…
- sin inside our hearts…
- the stresses and strains of life in a family…
These things swirl together and threaten to knock us off-kilter. As my husband and I go about life with our seven children (currently, ages 13, 11, 9, 7, 5, 2, and 7 months), these 10 truths from God’s Word help us have a firm, biblical foundation.
1- GOD CHOSE THE TIME & PLACE OF YOUR CHILD’S BIRTH.
It has not taken God by surprise, and it is not a travesty or mistake that your child was ordained to be born HERE, in this time and place, with these cultural challenges (as opposed to Christian families who lived under the risk of the bubonic plague in the middle ages, the ethnic cleansing of the Chinese cultural revolution in the mid-1900s, or the gladiator/slave culture in 1st century Rome).
We have some unique challenges now, yes, but every time and culture has had challenges of its own. These, in this culture, are ordained by God in order to produce GOOD in your life & in your child’s life.
And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)
It is common to ask whether it is wise to have children in such a wicked day and age. However, when we live with an understanding of God’s active sovereignty over these things, it helps us have peace.
Seek wisdom from God’s Word and God’s people for how to train up your child in this place and time, yes!, but do not rue the time and place of your child’s birth. This has been sovereignly ordained by God and He can use it for your child’s good and for His own glory.
2- GOD WANTS YOUR CHILD TO SEEK HIM & FIND HIM.
(Acts 17:26-27, Matt 7:7-11, 1 Chro. 16:10-11, Ps. 9:10, Ps. 105:4, Isa 51:1, Isa 55:6, 2 Pet 3:3-9, John 10:27-30)
The end of the passage from the last point says God placed each person in the time and place that they are, so:
“…that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” (Acts 17:27)
God does not wish for any to suffer an eternity apart from Him. He desires for humans to seek Him, feel their way toward Him, and find Him. Christ loves sinners and died for them.
Look for ways, in your child’s life, personality, and in your home, to point your child toward the Savior. When your child sins, call it sin, and then call for the right remedy: run to the cross! Look for ways to point out the need for a Savior and show them where He may be found.
3- CHILDREN MUST BE TAUGHT WHAT IS RIGHT; IT DOES NOT COME NATURALLY.
(Deut 6:4-9, Prov 29:15, Prov 22:15, Eccl 7:20, Rom 3:10)
There are a number of modern parenting and homeschooling philosophies that are built on the idea that the child will innately choose well on his own… that if she just has more *choices,* THEN she will be cheerful and content… that if you give the child enough freedom, he will choose wisely and have a good attitude all on his own… that by being playful (and never acting like an authority), your child will naturally come around and do right on his own.
But this is not the picture painted by Scripture— so you need to be shrewd and discerning as a mom as you read various pieces of advice around the internet. If the underlying principles of a piece of advice are that the child just needs enough freedom and choices, and then will do right all on his own, that is a faulty foundation. If the basic message is that you’re not respecting your child enough, and that if you do, then they will obey you because you “have their heart,” that is a faulty foundation.
The Bible indicates that:
- a child left to himself will bring shame to his mother. (Prov 29:15)
- foolishness naturally resides in the heart of a child. (Prov 22:15)
- children need to be taught, day and night, night and day, in order to internalize the truth about God (Deut 6:4-9)
- no one does good and never sins (Eccl 7:20)
- no one is righteous on his own (Rom 3:10)
So, let me encourage you: examine the foundation-level ideas of what you are believing and doing as a parent.
A toddler does not typically know what is best for him. Just as they will choose M&Ms and Ding-Dongs for dinner, a child will choose no bedtime. Or no math in his curriculum, please. Or no pants while guests are over. Or a tank-top and no shoes in the dead of winter.
If left to herself, your child will not naturally choose wisdom, and that is not the way to teach it.
If foolishness goes uncorrected, your child can suffer dire consequences, while losing out on the opportunity to reap the benefits of choosing (or being led) wisely.
If sin goes uncorrected, your child will not attribute this to grace, but to lawlessness, and will spiral downward for lack of correction and instruction.
Over time, your child may gradually earn the right to choose many things for him/herself, as they display wisdom and prudence in decision-making, but this should not happen straight out of the gate. If left to his own devices, an untaught child will choose foolishness, rebellion, and shame over wisdom, obedience, and godliness.
Your child needs YOU to consistently teach him/her what is right, and continually train them toward it. Your child will not naturally run toward righteous wisdom on his/her own. Do not buy into parenting philosophies that are built on unbiblical beliefs about the heart of man.
4- GOD HAS DESIGNED PARENTS AS A CHILD’S AUTHORITY.
(Rom. 13:1-7, Heb. 13:17, Daniel 2:20-22, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 5:5, 1 Peter 2:13-25, Mt. 22:21, Eph. 5:22-33)
God has put Kings and governing officials in their positions (whether they know it or not), gives elders responsibility for churches, intends for husbands to lead their homes, and has put you as your child’s authority. As He ordained that your child be born in Texas, London, Hong Kong, Minneapolis, or Quebec, He has ordained that he be born to your family.
By doing so, He intends for you to be your child’s authority… not merely a friend or co-journeyer.
Authority is often misunderstood. Modern societies don’t like it. But God set it up on purpose, and means it for our good.
He custom-designed that you would be your child’s parent, and not the other way around. He could have done it that way, you know?– made your child in charge. He’s God. Instead, He designed for you to be this child’s authority. Yes, authority can be abused, so you must use your position wisely, but don’t abdicate your God-given responsibility.
Accept your position as the parent, and purposefully wield your authority for your child’s long-term good.
5- SIN COMES NATURALLY TO EACH HUMAN.
(Gen. 3, Rom. 5:12, Rom 5:17, James 1:15-16, 1 Cor. 15:21-22)
“Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)
After the Fall in Genesis 3, sin became an innate part of our humanity. No one but Christ has been perfect. The first set of parents produced a murderer.
What does this mean for you? Your child will sin early and often; do not be surprised by this, or take it as a personal affront to you when they do.
This is the common condition of human beings. And it starts from the beginning. The self-focused sin nature comes out in temper tantrums, fits, disobedience, and fussing, and does not stop developing.
Sometimes I see moms who seem surprised or disappointed by their child’s sin, or who take it personally when their children sin. We must combat this feeling in our minds. Our children WILL sin. The fact that they sin does not mean you are a terrible mother. It means they need a glorious Savior.
Other moms avoid ever calling anything their child does “sin.” She’ll label it with a diagnosis, call it a “weakness,” say the child doesn’t understand, made a mistake, didn’t mean to, didn’t know it was wrong, didn’t hear the instruction, etc.
One of the ways we can love our children is to call sin by its rightful name and teach our children to recognize it for what it is. We should not excuse sin or minimize it.
You can not train your child to such a degree that they will not ever sin. And even if you call it by another name, they will sin. Nevertheless, you, as a parent, can and should teach them what sin IS as well as help to fight the overtaking of sinful ways in their thinking and attitudes by training and counseling them according to God’s Word.
6- CHILDREN ARE TO OBEY THEIR PARENTS “IN EVERYTHING.”
(Eph 6:1-3, Col 3:20, Ex 20:12, Prov 1:8, Prov 2:1-5, Prov 3:1-2, Prov 13:1)
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)
Even though they are sinners, and even though many may not be regenerate, they are told to obey. Don’t buy into the recent lie I’ve seen running around– that obedience only is good, or only “counts,” if it’s fully done from the heart, and that anything other than this is hypocrisy. Hogwash!
Just like citizens under law enforcement, there is a horizontal obedience that is still pleasing to the Lord, even though it may not (yet) be done fully with the right heart, or out of complete selflessness and joyful submission to the Lord. When I’m in a hurry, I may not smilingly heed the speed limit, and yet, by my submitted obedience– with or without a “cheerful heart”– I and the people around me on the road are all beneficiaries of obedience.
Certainly we can talk through attitudes and (once they are believers) teach them to rely on the Spirit at work inside them, but be sure that you’re seeing this biblically: obedience is a good thing. As parents, as the nearest God-ordained authorities over our children, we are to see to it that they obey their parents “in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
7- GOD MAKES US MALE AND FEMALE.
(Gen. 5:2, Matt 19:4, Mark 10:6)
This is one of the very first truths about human beings asserted by Scripture. Each human is God-ordained as male or female.
In the so-called “red letters,” Jesus affirmed this in His teaching.
Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4)
No matter what our culture says, God means for males to be clearly male and females to be clearly female. Aside from genetic abnormalities (which are rare, and unfortunate, like any other physical abnormality), God makes it very clear (from birth) which one we are.
As a Christian parent, thinking about this and living purposefully in the way you raise, dress, and train your child is submitting to God’s good designs from the very beginning of your child’s life. This *does not* mean that we must live always and only within a box of cultural constructs of male/female (i.e., pink/blue, likes bugs/doesn’t, good with directions/not, likes to cook/doesn’t, mows the lawn/doesn’t) but it *does* mean that we should look carefully at what the Scripture says about maleness & femaleness and parent according to these definitions.
“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)
God makes it clear that it is an abomination for one gender to dress like the other. While the actual garments may shift from culture to culture, each culture has garments/appearances which are clearly male or clearly female, and these cultural “cues” should matter in how our children dress. The reason for this is not because the actual garment is wicked (i.e., kilt, tunic, skirt… they all are made of long flowing fabrics covering the bottom half of the body), but that the things those garments *signify* tell the surrounding culture something about this particular creation of God.
Is this creation of God– this image-bearer– a male? Or a female? God means for this to be clear and distinct in the mind of the wearer, and the viewer, of a garment. So we can parent our kiddos accordingly.
8- PARENTS CAN PROVOKE A CHILD TO ANGER.
(Eph. 6:4, Prov. 15:1, Col. 3:21, Gal. 5:25-26, Eph. 4:26-29, Prov. 12:18, Heb. 10:24-25, Mark 9:42)
I like the way the NLT renders this one:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
As a parent, you CAN exasperate your child “by the way that you treat them.” To my sorrow, I have done this, and it is never OK. God does not want me to do this. He does not want you to do this.
Seek to understand your child and learn to parent in ways that train toward obedience, but do not expect perfection. That exasperates. Fight with all your might against your yelling. That is an all-too- common way we parents exasperate our children. Combat electronic distractions, zoning out, and family disconnectedness. These things, too, will exasperate your child.
We must work to parent with intentionality, humility, self-control, and kindhearted affection so that our children do not lose heart, grow bitter, and give up.
9- YOUR CHILD’S DAYS ARE ALREADY KNOWN TO GOD.
(Job 14:5, Psalm 139:16, Matthew 6:25-34, James 4:13-15, Jeremiah 1:5)
NOTHING YOUR CHILD EVER FACES WILL BE A SURPRISE TO GOD. He foreknew it all. This is something to continually remind yourself of… so that when the hard days come (and they will), and the fears rage (and they will), you can choose not to despair.
“Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.” ~Psalm 139:16
What this means is nothing– not diagnoses, disability, sin, weakness, talents, opportunities, relationships, political uprisings, catastrophic natural disasters, not even the day of your child’s death– NOTHING is outside of God’s knowledge. While we may– and likely will– face incredibly challenging moments, days, weeks, years, we will not face even a single second that God did not already know about in advance.
There is great comfort here.
10- GOD PROMISES HIS WISDOM TO YOU, IF YOU ASK.
There is nothing you can face with your child that will exceed God’s ability to grant you all the wisdom and strength you need to go through it.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. ~James 1:5
This does not mean you will necessarily feel up to every task. Some circumstances may be so enormously painful it might seem like you may never make it through. But– He promises He’ll see to it that you have the wisdom you need.
Ask Him; He is FAITHFUL.
These 10 Bible truths help us have a firm foundation in God’s Word as we strive to live faithfully as parents to the children God has given us.
Which one(s) did you need to be reminded of today?