Christian Parenting is a blessed privilege and solemn accountability of parents before the LORD to bring up their children in a manner that pleases LORD to train them to understand His directives and principles and injunctions. Also it’s parents’ responsibility to make the children useful and fruitful for him, for family and for society instructing them to increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. Accomplishing the parenting task in a biblical manner will result in the blessing of the LORD for them. Failing to bring up children according to God’s word will bring curses and grief to them.
What Is Parenting?
I am not going to define the word “parenting” in grand way (Scientifically and intellectually but in practical way). But I will try to make sense what is parenting because parenting means many things to many people today. It is because truth has become relative (varies person to person) today.
Parenting simply means what parents do (the care and bringing up of children). In other words, parenting means “the parent- child-relationship”. Parenting relates to two groups of people: Parents and children. Thus, we can call it “parent-child-relationship”.
God’s Pattern: Original Parenting
God is the parent of the parents. It is because He is the maker of all mankind. And He Himself became the parent of the first man Adam too. Willingly He made man in His own image and gave dominion over the rest of the creation. He catered all his physical and spiritual needs. Here, we can see the Invisible GOD became father to man. Still He remained GOD to him. God the Father was all in all for him. As God, He knew his all thinking and heart desires, so He aptly did for him in His divine wisdom. As Good Father, He supplied his all needs as per His wise counsel and sovereignty. So in God’s Fatherhood to that man, the idea of parenting came forth in the Garden of Eden.
God created Adam out of dust. He had purposes for him, and for his children, and for his children’s children though it was not initially revealed to him. He gave him some responsibilities to do on the earth. Except himself, Adam ruled over all creatures and creation because God made him the Head of all. But God ruled over him and over the creation in and through him in His Sovereignty. As the head of his family, Adam was responsible to look after himself and his family too. He put him in the garden. God did not leave Adam to die after creating Him but he sustained his life providing all sorts of trees and its fruits to eat, animals as companion to play (society and amusement parks though out of them, he did not find a suitable partner for whom he was seeking for him but good for enjoyment and recreation). And finally He gave him a suitable wife (bringing her out of his rib, from his side, so they can walk side by side of him. God did not make woman out of Adam’s head so she could rule over him. He also did not make woman out of the bone of his foot, so she be under the feet of the man. God in his wisdom, therefore, made her out of the bone taken from man’s side, so she could walk side by side of man being the suitable companion, more than animals and plants. So, she was neither ruler over man nor the servant or slave of man. She walked side by side being good companion in time of all situations good or bad).
Here, God has established a good model for successful parenting. He is the role model to all parents. If it is so then no need to go any place to search and learn how to look after the children and how to relate with children. How can be the best parents in all situations? Therefore, I have seen the only way that God’s parenting pattern is good and best for us. We have no other options than this. Also God’s parenting contains the discipline (God punished Adam and his wife when they disobeyed God. He chased them out of the garden). Therefore, God has shown us that He is God. We dare not to play with Him. He has shown His Fatherhood becoming Good Father. Thus, His parenting has charm and grace.
In other words, God made man and everything in the universe. He is sustaining them every moment. He is enabling them and blessing them everyday to live and advance. Everything is dependent upon God. He is the origin and the end of everything. So, we parents and our parenting must be based on God’s parenting model.
Adam’s Pattern: Corrupt Parenting
The parenting of Adam and Eve after the fall was under the control of Sin. Their parenting was corrupted under the curse of their sins. After that, it became our model of parenting. It is because he was our head. He failed to do what was pleasing to God. His sinfulness has marked the whole being of mankind and all their doings as well as the entire creation. Thus, our parenting is too under its influence. Still After the fall, God helped the first family and blessed the fruit of Eve’s womb. But the Bible records the facts that they could not become good parents for their children. They could not put their family members together. There was enmity between two brothers, Cain and Abel (though cause behind their enmity was LORD Himself and His Sovereign hand). So Adam did not able to sort it out. Finally, Cain killed Abel in spite of God’s warning against Cain’s sinful deeds.
Similarly, today, parents have children. Every one knew very well that children are a gift and a heritage of the LORD. They are to be brought up according to the directives of God’s Word and not according to the parent’s arbitrary decisions or the world’s unproductive philosophies. Parents are to train up their children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD. But they could not control their children. Due to lack of proper discipline, they become disobedience. They do because they are under the Sin. So, we are no better than Adam in parenting. Our sinful methods will not work to train the children in godly way because our ways are sinful and leads them to sinful paths. Also we are giving the counsels to them the so called biblical (mixed with the worldly pattern). How can the Word of God and the word of the World go together? How can two enemies go together? There are lacking seriousness and fear of God in our parenting. The world has come into us, into our homes and into the churches too much. Our lifestyles have got saturated with worldly thoughts rather then the biblical facts. Thus, what we are doing in our households and how we are behaving with our children without noticing the worldly counsels which come out from our mouths and reflect in our behaviors. It is happing because we are lacking the proper knowledge of the Word of God. Without knowing the whole counsel of God’s Words, how can we do biblical parenting? Mixing the worldly pattern and counsel of parenting into the biblical parenting, our counsel has become void and vain.
To make it clearer, let me bring an example of a glass of milk with poison. If we put one drop of poison in a glass of milk, it dos not change the color of milk but it turns milk into poison. It is no longer milk but poison. If still someone tells it milk then it is his folly. Again knowing the fact he gives it to his child. Surely, it will affect him very badly. Probably, he may die in front of him. Similar is our parenting. Same thing is happening in the Christian household. Parents are very apt to use the Word of God and the word of the world together without letting the children know. I am not telling here not to take help of good example of world but make it clear to them from where you are speaking. Let them know. So they will come to know what God says and what the world says on every topic. Let them reason and compare them both views. Also help them to understand what the difference, what the advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we have to be careful in our relation with children and talk without putting God and World together.
Precaution: Avoid Ungodly Counsels
Here, I am bringing the ungodly counsels, which are dominating the church today. To give a glimpse of unbiblical counseling, this is taken from a book “Self-Confrontation” developed by John C. Broger. Broger says, “The modern focus of man’s theories about the training of children is the exaltation of self and the important off emotions in regard to both parents and children. The wisdom of the world teaches that you must bring up your children to have a “good self-image”. It also teaches that you and your children “get in touch” with your feelings, which often means to like by your emotions not by truth.”
- Unbiblical “advice” or “counsel” given to parents:
- You have to learn parenting from people who have had the same experiences as you, since they are the only ones who can truly understand your struggles (disregards Prov. 14:12; Rom.15:14).
- Teach your children to trust you and rely on you first; then teach them to rely on the Lord. it is essential to gain their trust before they can trust God (disregards Prov.3:5-6)
- Don’t constantly use the Bible when you talk to your children about their lives. using Scripture too much might cause them to resent the Bible (disregards Deut. 6:5-9; Ps. 19:7-11; 2 Tim.3:16-17)
- When it comes to rearing children, you really only need good common sense (Disregards Prov.14:12; Jer. 17:9)
- If your children are disobedient to your rules, punish them severely. Let them know they cannot get away with breaking your rules (disregards Eph.6:4)
- You are the role model of the Lord for your children. The way your children view you as persons will be the way view God (disregards Matt.11:27; Jn.14:9; 2 Cor.4:3-6; Col.1:15; Heb.1:1-3, esp. verse 3a.)
- All children will “sow some wild oats.” It is a phase they must go through; but don’t worry, they’ll grow out of it (disregards Prov.19:18, 20:11)
- Unbiblical “advice” or “counsel” given to children:
- You are the master of your own destiny because of the potential within you. No one, not even your parents, has any right to dictate to you (disregards Prov.16:18; Isa.64:6; 1 Cor.10:12).
- God wants you to feel good about yourself. Find something that you do well and excel at it (disregards Prov.21:2-4)
- Look at the mess your parents have made of their own lives. How could they possibly give you any legitimate guidance (disregards Prov.20:9-10; Matt.7:1-5; Rom.15:14; 2 Cor.3:5)?
- Certainly there are going to be times you and your parents are at odds with one another. When you disagree, learn to write stories about how you feel and how you would like to deal with your parents. Put all your anger down on paper. You will feel much better because this will help you get rid of your angry feelings (disregards Prov.18:17, 25:28; Eph. 4:15; Phil.4:6-9).
- Explain to your parents how much you are being deprived by their not allowing you to have or to do what you want. Tell them how you think you have been mistreated (disregards Phil.2:3-4, 14; 4:11)
- Release your anger by participation in some kind of strenuous activity (disregards prov.16:32,25:28, Eph.4:31-32)
- There are other adults who are more understanding and kind than your parents. Finds a sympathetic adult in the church or in your school and tell them your problems. If necessary, go to a professional counselor. If your parents do not understand, it is not necessary to try and communicate with them (disregards Eph.4:25, 6:2. Col.4:6)
- If all else fails in dealing with problems at home, leave. You do not need this frustration and pain (disregards Rom.8:28-29 Jam. 1:2-4)
- No one is responsible to obey their parents all the time. There will be times when you need to “clarify your values” and judge “truth” for yourself (disregards Eph.6:1; Col.3:20; 2 Tim.3:16-17).
Solution: God’s Own Words
The parents are the first teachers and the Home is the first school to every child. So in Deuteronomy chapter 6, God has instructed the parents to learn first the fear of the LORD and then teach their children and the children should learn to teach their children.
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear, therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing milk and honey (promised Land). Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates (Deut. 6:1-9).”
Here, don’t miss the point that it is for the parents and the children equally important. It is responsibility to parents to learn and teach the children. I think William Wordsworth has learned from the Scripture and has rightly said, “Child is the father of man.” So teach the child fear of the LORD before he will be father. So Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD (Eph.6:4).
Therefore, Children, obey your parents in the LORD, for the LORD (emphasis added) for this is right. Honor your father and mother (This is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land (Eph.6:1-3).
Here, Paul says that Children should honor and obey their parents in the LORD, because this is right and is pleasing to the LORD. So, God’s principles and precepts are applicable to parents and children alike. Parents are to be of one mind as they teach the Scriptures to their children in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord; the children are to respond faithfully to this teaching as unto the LORD. It is because that many of man’s philosophies for rearing of children typically arise from individual experiences. They are not sufficient to guide us into truth but the Word of God. Only God’s word is having the full and final authority to teach and give us the sufficient knowledge on this topic but human’s experiences are not authoritative. So we cannot depend on them as the Word of God. So, we cannot depend on the human experiences which are affected by sins.
Thus, the Word of God is important not he experiences and feelings. Moreover, in the area of bringing up children, even Christians after look to ungodly counsel or to “common sense” rather than to the sole authority and totally sufficient standard of the Scriptures.
Parents don’t depend on your experience to rear your children but take counsel from the LORD and His Words. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
After the fall of man into sin, Sin has ruined the original parenting which was given to us. It is not possible for us to be like God in our parenting but remain as sinful parents to do our parenting work obeying all the commandments of God which is given to us as the Bible because we are under the sin but God is above the sin. Sin has affected ours children’s all faculties of humanity too. Because of sin, our parenting has lost the charm and grace. It has become ruthless. Therefore, we have to pay much attention in our tasks to get right with the LORD first and then to our children. In this area, only God the Spirit can give us right understanding of parenting and proper understanding of our children to do proper parenting after reading God’s commandments. So, we must rely on God and His Words to fulfill this solemn task.
By Rameshwar Yadav
(Yadav is an Elder at Providence Evangelical Church. He is also teaching at RPS & NEBS.)