The following piece has appeared on a range of websites, without any author named. It summarises some important themes for Christian parenting.
If you will dare to care, to correct in love, to share the teachings of charity, and demonstrate genuine concern, you will model responsible parenting principles. Below I’ve detailed a few approaches that promote a strong parent-child relationship and keep the lines of communication open:
Communication: In the eleventh chapter of Deuteronomy, parents were instructed to teach the words of Yahweh to their children, talking about them at home and when away from home. Abraham, in the book of Genesis, was told to educate his children and household to keep the way of the Lord. Likewise, Christian parents must communicate with their children. The two types of communication are verbal (spoken words), and non-verbal (actions and body language). As a child’s first teacher, parents should talk with the child about your familial beliefs, values, morals, expectations, and how to live with and get along with others. However, in addition to talking with them, a parent should also be an effective listener of the needs and concerns of their children. Developing two-way communication in the early years increases the likelihood a child will continue to communicate with parents throughout their preteen and teenage years when the influence of peers is at its highest and most concentrated.
Caring: A Christian parent will be caring. Caring for a child requires giving unconditional love. In the second chapter of Titus, older women were given instructions to teach what was good and provide an example for younger women so that they would love their husbands and children. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” – Romans 13:10b NRSV. Love is demonstrated through actions and words. Caring for a child requires a parent to give of him/herself. To care means to provide a child with not only the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter, but also nurturing the child to grow, learn and exceed his/her genetic potential. Similar to the Hallmark slogan, a Christian parent cares enough to give the very best. The practice of giving a child one’s best will eliminate a large percentage of the physical, emotional and verbal abuse and neglect prevalent in society today.
Concern: A Christian parent will always show concern. Concern involves providing appropriate responses to the needs, moods, feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions of a child. A parent will show interest in the child and the child’s development. Concern can be communicated by asking a child how his/her day was, what was learned. It is quality time in which the parent assists the child to explore the environment. One cannot look at the flowers, insects, clouds and other marvels of creation with a child without using some of the time to talk about the Creator. Through concern, a parent teaches social skills that include accepting correction, accepting rejection, sharing, conflict resolution and respecting the feelings and property of others. Concern is reflected in the relationship that is established. The author of Romans 12 lists the marks of a true Christian. Loving one another with mutual affection shows concern. When shown in the formative years, preteens and teenagers are less likely to rebel against parents’ questions or view questions as an invasion of privacy.
Charity: In Bible dictionaries, charity and love are synonymous with one another. Loving thy neighbor as thyself can be found in multiple passages in the New Testament. Such love is demonstrated by providing for those in need. Webster’s Dictionary defines charity as goodwill, generosity and helpfulness towards others. A Christian parent will demonstrate charity by teaching compassion and sensitivity to the thoughts, feelings, experiences and needs of others…especially those who are in need or less fortunate than they are.
Correction: Ephesians 6:4 (NRSV) states, “…fathers [and mothers] do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Discipline, often equated with punishment, is defined as corrective or formative training. For discipline to be effective, it does not have to be punitive. Hitting or spanking a child in anger should be avoided at all costs. Because an angry person’s behavior generally reflects a lack of control, all the child sees is the parent’s reaction which supersedes the initial reason for the disciplinary act. This angered approach often develops angry, defiant children rather than obedient ones. Developing a child through instruction has a positive impact upon a child. Proverbs 22:6 (NRSV) says, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” A Christian parent will strive to train a child by instilling morals and values, teaching right from wrong, and that misbehaving has consequences. This includes explaining why an action or behavior is inappropriate, and then teaching the preferred, more appropriate behavior. Correction involves consequences. Consequences may involve an apology and restitution which will encourage the acceptance of ownership for the inappropriate behavior, promote responsibility and prevent delinquency.
Using these basic approaches to parenting will not only make for a better parent-child relationship in your own home, but will lend a strong and effective blueprint for the child to use in the rearing of their own children in the future. Most importantly these steps serve as ways to continue to give glory to God in our everyday lives.