There are no absolute guarantees when it comes to child rearing, but here are some suggestions that just might be worth hearing.
- Be 182% committed to being married to the person to whom you are now married, and to do so by God’s standard and not man’s. If you are not married, you should not be thinking about kids this seriously anyway. Your concern should be on either receiving the gift of the right spouse from God or remaining in possession of the gift of singleness – and childlessness – until God does differently for you. Be sure it is God who does it. You may think that 182% is not possible, but that is the point. Be so absolutely committed that any thought of anything else is not possible. Be sure that your spouse has the same commitment as well. Man’s standard leaves room for the marriage to break up. God’s standard does not. It really is that simple.
- Believe that it is God’s plan for the husband to be the head of the family. Not the “Lord of the Manor” but the person responsible before God for that home. As such, he needs to be in charge so that he can be accountable. Some here would defend manhood and put qualifications on the statement. But I simply assert that this is God’s plan. Since I did not invent it, I need not justify it.
- Commit that as long as there are children in the home – even after they go to school and become teen-agers – mom stays home with the kids, and dad does whatever is necessary so that mom can stay home. This must occur without dad being gone all the time too. One can not be the head of a home that he only visits. It has been argued that this simply is not possible in the economy of today. I’ll argue that it is very possible, especially if your kids are more important than things.
- Learn God’s purpose for your children and bring them up with that purpose in mind. They are to occupy the Earth. They are to leave the nest. They are to raise their own families. They are to magnify the God who created them. They are not to stay your baby forever, and you are not meant to raise theirs.
- Never expect your children to either understand or solve your problems. That is your job for them. They are not your sounding board, nor your counselors, nor best friends nor confidants. Don’t dump on them. Raise them.
- Be married before allowing any possibility of needing to know how to parent. Enough said.
- Know the difference between discipline and punishment. Never simply punish, and employ discipline when nothing is necessarily wrong. Teach all the time. It will make learning easier for them.
- Be firm and consistent, and start early with this. What is cute for that toddler is dangerous for the teen. Teach them young. That which is a simple lesson to the little one can be a painful or even impossible lesson for them just a few years later.
- Expect excellence – not perfection. Teach them to give their all and do their best every time. To demand more is abusive.
- Don’t raise them on Facebook, or in your gossip group. Let them have the chance to tell their story as they want it told. Let them keep something that is embarrassing secret if they want it so. There is no place in scripture that tells us that our job as parents is to humiliate and embarrass our kids. That too may be a bit abusive, and just might cause them to keep something very important from you.
- Never make your children feel small. After all, everything you did today was not all that great either, and you are supposed to be the adult.
- Teach them the meaning of “No” and “Come” before they learn to talk or walk. Not “come — 1 — 2 — 3” and not “No unless you want to whine about it or throw a fit.” This may save their life someday. Let them know your words mean something.
- Don’t expect them to be adults at 13 years old. Let them be kids. They grow up more quickly than necessary anyway.
- Protect their innocence. The fact that their bodies are capable of reproduction does not necessitate a full knowledge of that art. Choose the right moment for that individual child to learn. Don’t believe the lie that every kid is going to be sexually involved so they have to learn it all by the age of eight. It is simply not true for more kids than the sexperts want you to believe. This requires a lot of work and supervision – I think that is called parenting. This is your job, not the school’s nor the church’s. Don’t give it away.
- Make everything about you be about them, not the other way around. This is not to suggest that you smother them and give them no space to grow. But it does mean that their birthday is not about your having given birth. Their musical talent is not simply a reflection of you having bought their lessons. Their great skills on the football field is not just yours handed down. And their times of misbehaving are not about how it will look to your friends if your daughter did that. It is about their character and their maturity and their talent and their ability. Parenting is all about the child and nothing about the parent. It is supposed to be that way.
I am sure that I have not exhausted this subject. There are many other Godly things that parents should do and be. And I am frankly not interest in what feels good or seems right to those who are supposed to know more that the rest of us. I want to know what God says. But, these principles represent a very high standard. If a parent is willing to go this far, I have a feeling that they will do whatever else it takes to have great kids.
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)
See You SONday!
(c) SF Gallagher 2013