Summary: Four basic principles of positive parenting from the wisdom book of Proverbs.
Often overlooked while looking for family wisdom is the Book of Proverbs.
Yet this wisdom book of the Bible deals with numerous family topics: avoiding fools and foolish behavior; communication; the value of hard, honest work and the detrimental effects of laziness; the proper way to handle anger; getting along with others; wealth, poverty, and giving; and many more valuable tools for family harmony and instruction.
One very famous Proverb is found in chapter 22, verse 6:
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Often neglected in the consideration of this verse is the word, "up."
The goal of good parenting is to set your children on an UPward trek.
How is this accomplished? How can I become a positive parent so that my children’s future is upward?
How can I become a mentor and not a tormentor?
In the very first chapter of Proverbs at least four attributes of wisdom serve as the FOUR BASIC PRINCIPLES OF POSITIVE PARENTING.
1. Always give clear and complete INSTRUCTIONS.
Proverbs 1:2-3 (KJV) says, "To know wisdom and INSTRUCTION; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the INSTRUCTION of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;"
The Hebrew word translated INSTRUCTION literally has to do with discipline. It is used 25 times in Proverbs, translated various ways in our English Bible: "reproof, chastisement, and warning," as well as INSTRUCTION.
INSTRUCTION is where good discipline begins!
Children should not be held accountable for INSTRUCTION that has not been given, or INSTRUCTIONS that have not been given clearly, and on their level of understanding.
Parents should take the time to lovingly explain their behavioral expectations to their children. This is the first and foundational step to their positive behavior.
Share with your children the positive results they can expect out of good behavior in life, how it will bring many good things to them, things like self-respect, the respect of others, good health, sound relationships, etc., and especially the blessing of God on their life.
But also share the negative results of bad behavior. Good mentoring parents will take the time to explain to their children the way that bad behavior robs us of joy, peace, and prosperity.
After you explain the behavior you expect, and make their behavioral boundaries clear, share with them what you will do if they step outside the established boundaries.
MAKE SURE THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE TELLING THEM. This is part of how a child one day becomes a responsible adult. They learn from INSTRUCTION that is clearly given, boundaries that are clearly set, and follow-through.
Above everything, follow through with the stated consequences of obedience or disobedience with your children.
INSTRUCTION manuals for children are not handed out at the hospital when you bring your baby home because you are supposed to provide the INSTRUCTION manual to your child, based on God’s Word.
But how can fathers and mothers give INSTRUCTIONS that are more likely to be followed?
The second PRINCIPLE OF POSTITIVE PARENTING helps here.
2. Give your children INSIGHT.
Proverbs 1:4-7 says, "To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings."
Words like "knowledge, discretion, understanding, and wise," insinuate how good parents don’t just want to teach their children how to make a living, they want to teach them how to live!
Many parents dream of their children achieving, financial and vocational success, and while these are important, they are not the most important.
Relationship success is the most valued success in God’s economy. If we lead our children to a close personal relationship with God and teach them how to have solid relationships with others we will have grounded them in the two most important commandments.
Matthew 22:37-40: "Jesus said unto him, ’Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’"
That ends the debate about what God thinks is the most valuable INSIGHT to give our children.
How does giving INSIGHT make it more likely that our children will follow our INSTRUCTION? When they understand our instructions and the purpose for them they are more likely to be motivated to follow through.
The third PRINCIPLE OF POSITIVE PARENTING penetrates even more deeply into the soul of a child.
3. INFLUENCE your children by how you live.
Proverbs 1:7-8 (KJV) says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy FATHER, and forsake not the law of thy MOTHER:"