“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” (Psalms 127:3)
If children are a gift from God, then why is parenting so difficult? Surely God wouldn’t just drop a blessing in our lives and then say, “Here you go, now figure it out.” There are numerous parenting books available to us but how quickly we neglect or forget to read it at all. When God calls us to be parents, His word, is sufficient enough in equipping us with what we need to steward the blessing He has given us. The Bible is full of examples of how God is a good parent to us, how we should be as His children, and commands on how we should in turn parent our own children.
Pray First and Always
Prayer is consistent and frequent conversation with God. It is important to talk to Him and be open to hear from Him, by the Holy Spirit. This should be our first go-to in all things – especially parenting. We should also be interceding for our children in prayer. One of the best ways we can improve our parenting is to make prayer a habit and a part of our lifestyle for ourselves and our children. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Ephesians 6:18, and Philippians 4:6 are a few verses that emphasize importance and power of prayer.
The Value of Discipline and Consequences
We all know that a big part of our role as parents is to discipline our child, but what does this really look like? The Bible illustrates many ways in which God disciplines us and why. In Hebrews 12:5-11, God tells us that his discipline is love, and although unpleasant, produces good fruit for our lives.
When disciplining your child, don’t take it personal. Children don’t solely exist to make our lives difficult. Again, they are blessings. They are also people trying to navigate the world with limited experience and knowledge. Discipline should be out of love and understanding rather than out of our own emotions or discomfort. If we find ourselves angry, frustrated, exhausted or hopeless in parenting, it is our job to deal with it ourselves. One important aspect of parenting is the ability to regulate ourselves before doing so with our children. (Matthew 7:5). We must understand and submit to God our motives in disciplining, so that we can be fair and just to our children (Hebrew 4:12). Also, how we respond to our children determines their willingness to obey. Colossians 3:21 tells us not to anger our children for this leads to discouragement. Instead, we should follow God’s instructions (Ephesian 6:4). How we speak to and about our children matters. The power of life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), therefore we can speak to the goodness of who our children are and still call out the undesirable behavior to cease. Children are not the behavior; behavior can change and improve. Target the behavior not the person (Numbers 14:18).
Discipline is also important to teach children the law of consequence. God is a just God. This means that He states, up front, his commands and the consequences of disobeying his commands. (Deuteronomy 30:16-19). We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-9). Therefore, there are consequences, good and bad, for our behavior. As parents, we must emphasize good behaviors and consequences as much as we give attention to undesired behaviors and consequences. We can understand why the child behaves in such a way and still remain just and consistent in following through with the consequence.
Being just and consistent in discipline teaches the concept of consequences. This is foundational in our relationship with God, in our relationship with our children, and in their relationship with God (Proverbs 29:15).
We Get as We Give
As we are shaping our children, parenting is shaping us. Romans 5:3-5 remind us to rejoice when facing trials and tribulations for it builds endurance, character and hope. In parenting, every teaching opportunity for our children is a learning opportunity for us. In the same way that God is a good father to us, we can learn to be a good parent to our children (Deuteronomy 8:5-6). I often share with my son the kind of father God is to us and how my obedience to my Father requires me to be the kind of mother I am to him. At times, I am also transparent about the disobedient child I can be to God and the consequences that come with my disobedience.
Don’t just tell you children about God but show and share your relationship with Him. In our parenting, we can do so by aligning our life style with God’s word. Deuteronomy 6:5-8 tells us to love God with our whole being and to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to God daily. By doing so, we receive the goodness of God. This is something we can show and tell our children. We model obedience to God out of love, in the way we desire for our children to be obedient to us. (John 14:15). The more we seek and implement God in our parenting, the more we see the Glory of God in our lives and in our parenting (John 15:4-5). How fulfilling it is to have more of Him!