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Summary: This sermon outlines some basic biblical principles of raising kids.

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Kids are a great joy and a great trial. Joy – birth, first words, first steps, riding a bicycle, graduation, and wedding. Trials – 2:00 AM feedings, spilled milk, broken things, tripping over toys, driving, rebellion, and expensive college.

As parents our most important relationship is with our kids. It sets the stage for the future. We are preparing them for life. It is a parent’s responsibility to raise their kids. It doesn’t take a village.

Read Ephesians 6:1-4.

Three verses are directed at kids, and one at parents, but more is said in verse 4 than in verses 1-3.

James Dobson’s “Six Keys to Shaping a Child’s Will”

1. “Define the BOUNDARIES before they are ENFORCED.”

Dobson writes, “If you haven’t defined it, don’t enforce it!” One of the keys to our passage today is, “Do not provoke your children to anger.” Some translations use the term “exasperate.” The fastest way to exasperate our kids is to be unclear about expectations. Don’t punish a child for crossing an unspecified boundary.

Consistency is important in this respect. Holmes says, “Perhaps the greatest cause of an exasperated child is inconsistency—‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ Our best means of learning is by following an example. Long lectures, stern warnings, sound beating, and hours of church services will not replace what hypocrisy removes. If we want our children to grow up like Christ, we must first be what we want them to be.”

2. “When defiantly CHALLENGED, respond with confident DECISIVENESS.”

Dobson notes, “Nothing is more destructive to parental leadership than for a mother or father to disintegrate during a struggle.” Stay strong. The lima bean incident of ’99.

It’s not a matter of win at all costs, but it a life lesson about obedience and authority.

3. “Distinguish between willful DEFIANCE and childish IRRESPONSIBILITY.”

Dobson says, “Children should not be spanked for behavior that is not willfully defiant.” He goes on, “Childish irresponsibility is very different from willful defiance and should be handled more patiently.”

Attention spans are short. Kids forget. They chase butterflies during soccer games or draw in the dirt during softball games.

Things will be spilled. Glasses will be broken.

4. “REASSURE and TEACH after the confrontation is over.”

Dobson encourages, “After a time of conflict, during which the parent has demonstrated his or her right to lead, youngsters…may want to be loved and reassured.”

Give ‘em a hug. Show them that you still love them.

This is an opportunity to reinforce a life lesson or encourage them for the future. We should be mad at the misbehavior not at the child as a person.

5. “Avoid IMPOSSIBLE DEMANDS.”

If you decide to issue a new rule or set of rules ask yourself, “Is this too much for them to handle?” Dobson notes, “Be absolutely sure that your children are capable of delivering what you require.”

Professor Willard Taylor observed, “Disobedience of children can destroy the peace of a Christian home, but on the other hand parental insensitivity and harshness can be just as devastating.”


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