Whenever Christians discuss parenting, everyone knows they will immediately refer to a couple of the most well known verses that directly address parenting. In fact, many Christians have heard them so many times, they automatically tune out when they start hearing them. There are some other verses, however, that while on the surface address other issues, can be extremely helpful for parents. Here are five of my favorites.
Matthew 5:37 “Say only “yes”if you mean “yes” and “no” if you mean “no”. Anything else is from the evil one.” Yes, this verse is about keeping promises and being trustworthy, but it applies to our children and parenting them as well. Wishy washy parenting doesn’t feel safe to children. Failing to keep our promises to them wounds them in ways that can be hard to heal. Obeying the command in this verse will make your parenting more effective (because it is consistent) and improve the trust your children have in you (and your relationship as a result).
Philippians 2:3 “In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble and honor others more than yourselves.” It’s so easy to accidentally slip into selfish parenting. We can even get really good at hiding our selfishness behind the guise of great parenting (If I am happy, my children will be happy.). We can also make parenting decisions based more on what we think makes us look good to others than what is actually in the best interest of our children. Great Christian parenting is neither selfish nor prideful.
Philippians 4:8 “Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and beautiful and respected.” Nothing good comes from allowing yourself and your children to be constantly surrounded and engaging with things that are dark, depressing, violent, etc. Make this verse the motto for your home – everyone will benefit.
Matthew 28:19-20 “So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have told to you.” Did you realize Jesus gave all Christians the command to help others become Christians? Notice something interesting though? The part about teaching them to obey all things is after the command to baptize them! Many Christian parents believe their job is done as soon as their children come out of the baptism waters. The reality is that the important teaching about how to live the Christian life continues long after baptism. Your job of coaching your kids on living the Christian life never truly ends (although it changes a bit as they become adults).
1 Kings 1:6 ”…Adonijah was a very handsome man. King David never corrected his son Adonijah and he never made him explain his actions. Adonijah became very proud…” There are a number cautionary parenting stories in the Bible, but this is one of the few that draws a very strong line between poor parenting and the negative consequences it creates for the child, the parent and everyone around them.
Paying attention to these verses can automatically improve your parenting. Do you have other favorite verses that help your parenting, but aren’t one of the favorite parenting verses? We would love for you to go to our Facebook page and share them with our community!
Did someone ever say to you, ”It’s not what you said, but how you said it”? The ”how you said it” means your attitude, your body language, the tone in your voice. It is possible to say the words ”I love you” and make the person believe we really meant to say ”I hate you”. While the words we say to our children are vitally important, our tone may or may not communicate the same message as our words.
Often people are unaware of the tone they project to others. This can be especially true with our children – who may also may be more sensitive to tone than adults. Tone is often tricky when we correct our children because we can unknowingly reflect the same tone our parents used with us – including the very phrases and facial expressions we promised ourselves we would never use with our own children.
It is important to understand that a firm tone is fine when giving correction – assuming there is love behind the firmness that is well known in normal communications with your children. Overly harsh, angry and disgusted tones should be avoided whenever possible. A sarcastic tone is tricky. Not only can it go over the heads of your children, but if they adopt your tone and use it with other adults, they will often be considered disrespectful.
Remember, when you are tired, hungry or having a bad day, it will be easier for you to slip into tones that actually undermine your parenting. It is also possible to get into bad habits and find it difficult to switch back to using more supportive, loving tones. Unsure what tones you are using? Ask your spouse or other adults who see you interact with your kids. Or if you are really brave – ask your kids (bonus – understanding tone will help them in literature class!). Don’t let your tone undermine what you are trying to accomplish in your parenting.
In discussions of Christian parenting, the focus is generally on how parents can help their children develop the strongest possible faith foundations and develop to their full God given potential. But did you know, parenting your children as God would want you to can also help you grow spiritually?
There are five ways in particular that Christian parenting can help us grow spiritually.
Selflessness. The Bible teaches that we are to consider others before ourselves. One might think it comes naturally to put your children’s needs above your own, but it doesn’t. Self care can easily become selfishness if we aren’t careful. If we are mindful in our choices, however, parenting can give us lots of practice in selflessness.
Humility. The most effective parents admit their ignorance and seek help from more experienced Christian parents. We all make plenty of mistakes in parenting. Instead of trying to deny or hide those mistakes, use them as a reminder to stay humble.
Patience. It takes a lot of patience to answer all of the questions your children have or to teach them everything they need to know to live the Christian life. And especially to stay calm when they are being disobedient or just annoying. When you feel yourself becoming impatient, remind yourself you have just been given an opportunity to work on your patience.
Perseverance. It takes a lot of perseverance to raise children who become strong, productive Christians as adults. Christian parenting is a marathon. Use that marathon to increase your perseverance.
Prayer. For many Christian parents, prayer is their life line. If your prayer life has become anemic, use praying for your children as motivation to improve your prayer life.
When you think about parenting your children towards God, take time to consider how you need to grow spiritually. Use the opportunities parenting naturally gives you to work on your own spiritual growth.
In her book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin discusses four basic type of people when it comes to goals. You can read her book for the details, but one of the conclusions she reaches is that all but the ”rebels” (who recoil at the mere idea of rules or accountability), can benefit from having accountability for working towards and reaching their goals.
Which made me wonder. Are we not as effective at reaching our Christian parenting goals because the church is no longer structured where we are to hold each other accountable as commanded in scripture? Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about controlling the lives of others or rigid accountability with serious consequences for not meeting goals. Those are cultish and not Christian practices.
What if, however, you and a fellow young parent agreed to touch base twice a week and share if you had been having family devotionals that week? Or an older woman agreed to have coffee with you once a week and hold you accountable for whether or not you were encouraging your kids to read the Bible independently or were praying together more as a family? What if you were in a small group of parents who committed to study specific Bible stories with your kids each week and then spent a few minutes of each small group meeting discussing how it went? Or what if you and another family agreed to sit together in church or go out to lunch after Bible class? Maybe even made reservations to a restaurant to add some more accountability to the mix?
According to Rubin, accountability can help if we are willing to share our goals with an accountability partner. Since her book was secular, she promoted hiring someone like a trainer, teacher or coach, because they would be more demanding and consistent than a friend or relative. If you can build it into a relationship where you already have consistent times in touch with each other, and you both agree on ground rules for the type of accountability and encouragement or “fussing” allowed, it could work almost as well.
If you have a Christian parenting goal that you struggle to reach, try adding accountability to the mix. It might just be the boost you need to finally give your kids those spiritual things you know they need.
There is a not so little secret to effective Christian parenting. It’s a lot easier if you have a close, loving relationship with your kids. Children are a lot more responsive to their parents’ spiritual teaching, mentoring, coaching and even correction and discipline if they feel close to the parent providing it. Every parent child relationship has its strained moments, but parents and children who are generally close feel a strong love and respect for each other.
Children usually love and respect people who love and respect them. Since God is love and Christianity is built on a foundation of love, it only makes sense that a strong parent child relationship is also a very loving relationship. Please don’t misunderstand. A loving relationship does not mean you cater to your child’s every whim or that you never correct or discipline your children. Rather, it means that even on the worst of days – when your kids don’t feel lovable – they still know you love them.
With kids, there is a twist to love. They need to feel that you like them as well. If they could verbalize the need, they would tell you they believe parents are somehow required to love them, but that when you choose to like them, it means you love them unconditionally. Once again, they don’t expect you to approve of their poor choices, but they do hope you will like and accept their basic personality, preferences and passions even if they are very different from your own. (The exception, of course, is if any of these is sinful.)
Thankfully, there are fun things you can do to show your kids you love and like them. Here are a few of our favorites.
Spend one on one time doing something they love. This is especially important if they know their hobby is something you don’t normally enjoy or know nothing about. Let them teach you some of the basics. Take a class together. Hunt yard sales for items they need for their hobby. You don’t need to make it your hobby as well, but showing an appreciation and understanding for it helps your child feel loved.
Shower them with hearts. Cut hearts out of construction paper. Make sure you have at least a dozen for each child. On each heart, write something you appreciate about that child. Be careful not to overstate. A child who makes so-so grades isn’t going to believe you think he or she is “the best student ever”. Your child will believe, however, that you love the way he or she tries so hard to do the best possible job on schoolwork. Have fun showering your kids with the hearts. Put them where they will see them all at once when they get up in the morning or come home from school. Or give them one a day for a couple of weeks or an entire month – perhaps snuck into their sack lunches or in their backpack or on their pillow each night.
Pillow journal or notes. Make an entry or leave a note on their pillows about something positive you noticed about them that day. Try to focus on internal rather than external compliments. Which you choose to do will depend upon how consistent you can be. If you can remember to do it every night for every child, you may prefer a journal. If you can only manage to do it sporadically, then notes may work better. If you have more than one child, keep it as even as possible. Don’t give either the ”golden child” or the child struggling the most more notes than the others, as that can become a breeding ground for other issues. They don’t all have to get one on the same day, but even over a short period of time, the notes should be equally distributed.
Have regular parent child dates. These dates can be both parents with one child or a parent with a child – making sure each child gets a date with both parents at some point. The date doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. The focus is just to have fun together and give your kids a chance to talk about anything and everything without a sibling vying for attention. Make sure you are listening actively and don’t use this as an opportunity to lecture your child about anything.
Have device free fun time. Put away the devices for several hours. Play board games. Go for a hike. Choose an activity least likely to dissolve into sibling arguments – even if it’s just going for an ice cream cone. Having fun together as a family enhances feelings of love and acceptance.
Serve someone as a family and share your faith with them in some way – even if you are serving Christians and it is more sharing encouragement. Serving others and sharing your faith can give your kids perspective on life. Maybe their day wasn’t quite so bad after all. They have an important purpose and mission in life. God has good works He has planned in advance for them to do. plus, doing it together as a family enhances feelings of belonging, purpose, acceptance and love.
Use a special heart plate. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Each child should have turns using the heart plate at family meals. What privileges come with the heart plate or up to you and your creativity. Maybe the child with the heart plate has everyone say something they love about him or her. Perhaps they get to choose the menu when it’s their turn or their favorite food is part of the meal. Once again, how often you do this is flexible, but make sure each child gets equal turns.
Cuddle up and read a book together. Even teens can enjoy being read to under the right circumstances. Picture books are best for young children, but reading a chapter regularly out of a longer book can be fun for older kids and teens. Choose a book you enjoyed at their age or that you know they will like. Plodding through a boring book won’t work. Or cuddle up and read a story from the Bible together – sharing God’s love with them as you show them your love.
Have fun with it. Be creative. Make sure your kids know you love them. You might just find parenting gets a little easier.