Do you hear the term Christian parenting and think of rods and spoiled children, or parents using the Bible as a dogmatic force – shouting out the Commandment of Honor they Father and Mother? You are probably not alone if you do, but the ideas behind Christian parenting are really based on a foundation of unconditional love. It is unconditional love, after all, that is written about in the Bible and is the cornerstone of the teachings throughout scripture.
Christian parenting refers to a style of parenting that derives its goals and methods from Biblical and church teachings and has several common threads running through the approach. In a way, the Bible is a reflection of families. God teaches through the Bible right from wrong, charitable living, graceful giving, and strength of faith. For those who practice Christian parenting, these are the same attributes that they endeavor to teach their children. The Bible is the most complete manual and playbook, far above any parenting book sold at the mall.
3 important aspects of Christian parenting in my own life are:
- Leading by Example
- Disciplining with Love
- Focusing on Marriage
Leading by Example
Parents who pursue a Christian approach to parenting often seek to lead by example. This doesn’t make them unique in their parenting, as many parenting styles reflect this approach as well. Perhaps the difference is that the examples that parents choose to set are often reflective of their faith and their beliefs in biblical teachings.
Leading by example holds the parents responsible, and their actions must speak for them. If you want your child to treat others with respect, you need to be respectful. If you want your child to learn to be prayerful, have strong morals, and be faithful, you need to find ways to exhibit these same behaviors in your own life.
Many times parents who adhere to Christian foundations in their parenting styles find that there is a strong correlation between the responsibility for decisions that we must possess and model for our kids and the responsibility for our decisions that God gives us. We have been given the gift of choice, and our everyday actions need to reflect the choices we hope our children will make.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Disciplining with Love
There seems to be a misconception that the only way Christian parenting styles are effective is if the parents use corporal punishment for every infraction. However, Christian parenting demonstrates that we need to discipline our children in order to guide them – we have this one, amazing gift that we have been given, parenthood – we owe it to our children to lead them well. Children, like the rest of us, are imperfect. Discipline in a loving way acknowledges the imperfections and corrects behaviors without harming the child.
Not only are parents taught in the Bible to discipline their children with love, but they are taught the importance of self-discipline. For many who follow Christian parenting styles, the essence of why as parents we discipline our children is to lead them to a life of self-discipline. Biblical teachings for parenting guidance can be found in Hebrews 12, verses 5-11, where the discipline God gives is discussed. God wants people to become their ultimate versions of their unique selves, and He disciplines us in the same loving way that we discipline our children. If a parent is struggling with the actions of her child, doesn’t she often just want what is best for her child? This is the parallelism between God’s love for us and our love for our children, and why discipline is necessary and a loving action.
Focusing on Marriage
One of the most powerful things we can give our children is a strong family. Christian parenting teaches that honoring the relationship between Mom and Dad is paramount in raising happy, healthy children. It can be very easy to get caught up in the craziness of kids’ schedules and work demands and put marriage and that partnership commitment on the backburner. Christian parenting not only gives permission, but encourages the emphasis of that marital bond. I admit that this is sometimes very difficult for me – it sometimes feels like I am ignoring my children or putting them second if I take a special day with my husband. However, I know that the energy I put into the relationship with my husband will be returned infinitely within my family.
Christian Parenting in My Life
I never set out and formally said “I want to follow the attributes of Christian parenting” when our first child was born. Instead, I knew in my heart that I wanted to give my children the gift of faith and the knowledge of Jesus. Children learn so much easier by active participation so I strove for ways to show them about what I felt it meant to be a Christian. I began to look at different parts of our lives and imagine how God would parent in a particular situation, or how Mary would act as Mother.
There is the fad for kids to wear WWJD bracelets (What would Jesus do?), but when I see my children seriously look to their faith for guidance I know they have chosen the most amazing role model, especially in the face of so many pop culture icons grabbing for their attention. As my children and I continue to grow, in life and in faith, I can look back and see how Christian parenting provided a foundation for our family. It is the ever-present guiding hand and supportive strength in our lives.