Sound child-rearing principles are readily backed up by the Bible. Following are 12 instructions to help parents successfully guide their children through the developmental years.
1. Begin early
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). The Hebrew means from infancy to adolescence, while training carries the connotation of narrowing or hedging in. Training a child means appropriate instruction according to the age of the child, and it begins in infancy.
2. Present a united front
“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Parents should agree on the methods and practices they will use in raising their children.
3. Love your child
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!” (1 John 3:1). As God loves us in our less-than-perfect human state, so our love for our children should not be contingent on perfect performance.
4. Discipline your child
“For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Hebrews 12:6). Discipline is the reinforcement of instruction and is applied with love.
5. Have your emotions under control when instructing children
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty” (Proverbs 16:32). The way we respond to our children teaches them how to deal with situations in their own lives.
6. Be consistent
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Consistency allows the child to develop trust and confidence in you and your instruction.
7. Never underestimate the importance of attitude
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Forced compliance does not produce qualities of character any more than does permissiveness. Character is what we are on the inside—the heart.
8. Give your child the gift of emotional maturity
“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). Life’s situations are best handled by clear thinking as opposed to emotional reactions.
9. Set appropriate authoritative boundaries
“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Children should fit in to the family structure and learn to contribute to it.
10. Be what you want your child to become
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works” (Matthew 5:16). Parental example speaks louder than words.
11. Set high moral standards
“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth . . . but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9). Don’t be afraid to raise the bar of acceptable behavior and challenge your children to reach for it. They can jump higher than most parents’ expectations!
12. Realize that true character is formed by godly morality
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7). Relative morality produces only relative character.