Parenting is a huge responsibility. Whether you have one child or a houseful, whether your child is a baby or a teenager, the responsibility associated with being responsible for another human being is a great one. However, it’s one that God has specifically chosen you for. As a parent who is raising their child to be an active participant in the Kingdom of God, it’s important that you’re an active participant in your child’s life.
If you walk into a local bookstore and look for books on parenting, you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the number of titles available to you. While there is certainly nothing wrong with consulting the advice of parenting experts, the fact has always, and will always remain that God’s Word is the ultimate authority on all facets of life, including the way that we raise our children.
God specifically picked you to parent the children under your care. Whether you had your children on your own, adopted one or more children, or you are caring for a child through some other circumstance, the fact remains that your Heavenly Father hand selected you to be the primary influence in the lives of your children.
While that does certainly add a certain amount of pressure to your role, it’s important to understand that God does not want us to simply sit back and watch our children grow up. In the same way that He is actively involved in every aspect of your life, He wants you to be actively engaged in your child’s life. Engaged parenting isn’t always easy, and it’s rarely convenient. However, it’s God’s design.
How do you become an engaged parent? Let’s go to the best source of information for that answer.
Praying With Your Child
Proverbs 22:6 (TPT)
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Many people cite this verse as a sort of guarantee that if you take your child to church when he or she is little, he or she will continue to serve God when they’re older. Ultimately, everyone, including your child, has free will. This verse isn’t a way to manipulate the situation and ensure that your child never strays from the faith. Instead, it speaks to the importance of building a solid foundation of faith in their lives when they’re young.
As Christians, we understand that prayer is at the core of everything we do. The Bible teaches us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). However, your child needs to learn that prayer is one of the most foundational principles of their faith. It’s also important to show them how committed you are to prayer, continually seeking God’s will through prayer since you know that He wants to be actively engaged in every aspect of your life.
When your child is young, make sure that you purposely pray with them every day. This can be something as simple as prayers before bedtime. If bedtime is a bit chaotic in your house, consider praying with your child when you’re taking them to school every morning. The time of your daily prayer isn’t what’s important. The crucial part is that they are seeing you make a concerted effort to pray daily and involving them in that.
Not only does praying daily with your children build a foundation of prayer in their lives, but it also normalizes prayer. When they grow up and run into the newer problems that come with their teen years, prayer will be a natural response for them.
Discipline Through Disciplining
Proverbs 3:11-12 (TPT)
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Have you ever seen the Lady Justice statue? It’s the one where the blindfolded woman is holding a set of scales in her hand which are presumably used to give an unbiased ruling on the guilt or innocence of the person being tried. As a parent, we don’t necessarily view our children’s transgressions in that light, but the concept of the scales can provide a good idea about how we should balance love and discipline.
Being an engaged parent means that you have to be there to correct your child when needed. Again, this is the kind of thing that starts early on. When your toddler snatches a toy out of the hand of a playmate, engaged parenting says that you need to address the situation. When your teenager breaks curfew, it’s important that there are ramifications for their behavior. Discipline is never an excuse for abuse, whether it’s physical, verbal, emotional, or mental. However, discipline is actually a sign of love.
To revisit the example of the scales of justice, imagine if you put weights of discipline on one side of the scale. If the only thing you ever do is discipline your child, eventually, that will be the earmark of your relationship. It will result in fear and animosity that will last a lifetime. Conversely, if the only thing you ever do is shower your children with praise, even in the face of their misdeeds, you will have an undisciplined child who eventually becomes an undisciplined adult.
As a Christian parent, your ultimate goal is to raise a child who is going to be a disciple of Christ. In order to do that, it’s important that you engage your child through discipline when necessary. However, it’s equally important that your child understands that discipline is the product of your love for them.
The Importance of Bible Reading
Psalm 119:9-10 (TPT)
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
When we think purity, we generally think about remaining sexually pure before, during, and even after marriage. While that is a very crucial aspect of purity, it’s certainly not the only one. It’s important that your child pursues purity in their thoughts, words, actions, relationships, and every other aspect of their lives. Yes, sexual purity is important, and a Biblical discussion with them on the topic is certainly something that should be a part of your parenting plan. However, pursuing purity in every area of life is crucial.
David, the writer of the 119th Psalm had tried to live a Godly life even from his youth. He knew the importance of pursuing purity. It could easily be argued that pursuing purity is harder for young men and women today than it was in the days of David. Today, your child is exposed to so much corruption that it’s easy for them to believe that those ungodly things are the norm.
Music, movies, TV shows, and virtually every other source of media teaches our children that they should pursue self-gratification. Slogans such as “find your own truth” and “do more of what makes you happy” may have good intentions behind them, but they’re simply not the Godly path to purity. Instead, your child needs to pursue God’s truth. Instead of becoming consumed with making themselves happy, teach them early that our primary goal is to please God.
The best way for your child to understand God’s truth and His wishes for them is to expose them to His Word as early as possible. Do you remember how we discussed normalizing prayer, making it a standard part of every day? The same could be said of Bible study. Make sure that your child knows that the Word of God is for them. Get them their own Bible in a translation that they can understand and have designated family Bible study times where they can ask questions. It will keep them pure in every area of their lives.
A Closing Prayer:
God, I need Your help with parenting. I want to be engaged in every area of my child’s life in the same way that You are engaged in every area of mine. Give me the wisdom that I need on handling every situation that comes up. In Christ’s name, Amen.