Summary: There are a few specific scripture references to parenting, but I think we need to look at the entire scope of scripture to really get a complete picture of how we are to parent. After all, God is the ultimate parent as our father, so all of Scripture giv
Before I became a counsellor, while I was still going to school, I worked as a family support worker. Essentially I would pick up kids from troubled homes who social workers were involved with but hadn’t taken the children away yet, and I would spend a couple hours with them and take them back home, reporting back to the social workers who were monitoring the situation.
There was this one family with two kids; a wonderful, sensitive 7 year old boy, and a joy filled 4 year old girl. The mother and the two kids lived in a townhouse, and the father lived in another townhouse in the same complex a couple hundred yards away, but he couldn’t live with them because he beat the mother too often.
Neither of these parents had any handicaps or severe mental health issues, they were just lazy, irresponsible, and didn’t want kids interfering in their lives. Well the townhouse these kids lived in was absolutely full of dirty dishes, old scraps of leftover food, animal feces all over the floor, and the mom just sat outside in a lawn chair all day smoking cigarettes and chatting with all the other welfare mothers in the complex.
It broke my heart to take these children back to this place after taking them out and having some fun with them. Somehow while I worked with this family they were allowed to keep their children. These kids got no attention, either positive or negative, they were neglected in every way other than being fed.
But I found it hard to blame these parents, because their parents did the same thing, and when you don’t ever get a chance to leave that kind of culture, you just find it or create it wherever you go. There are always plenty of people living this way. They truly didn’t know how to do it any differently, and probably wouldn’t have wanted to anyway. Obviously they shouldn’t have brought children into the world, or so we would judge, but like I said they were irresponsible.
I knew that if these children didn’t get a change of environment, they would likely follow in their parent’s footsteps. The point I want to make about this story is that, even though we’re going to talk about various strategies for healthy parenting today, by far the most important part of parenting is how you live your life.
Because your kids won’t necessarily copy everything about your life, but they will use your example as a framework for their adult years. Amazingly, it seems like they even take on some of the characteristics or behaviours that we think they had never seen in us.
There are a few specific scripture references to parenting, but I think we need to look at the entire scope of scripture to really get a complete picture of how we are to parent. After all, God is the ultimate parent as our father, so all of Scripture gives us insights into being a parent.
The first theme that appears, which all of us parents can relate to is that it can be frustrating to be a parent. As we all remember it is to be a child too. As long as children have free will, parenting will be a difficult endeavor. We were frustrating to our parents at times, our children can give us frustration, and their children will bring it on too.
Imagine how God feels about all his children that do their own thing when he has given them everything they need to live well. But in spite of this disobedience and strange decisions, God loves us and we too love our children.
If we had to narrow down the rest of what the Bible says about parenting, it would be that parents are to teach and discipline their children. The other important challenges are to provide for them and keep them safe.
Now why do we do any of this? Isn’t it so that they will grow up and be functioning adults? Technically we are not raising children, we are raising adults. They need to be kids while they’re kids, but for 75% or more of their life, they’re going to be adults. So we should always have one eye on “how is what I’m doing in my child’s life right now preparing them for the future?”
God says the most important thing in this life is to have a mutually loving relationship with Him, and for us this is where parenting starts too. Just as His love for us is much greater than our love for Him, when we have children, our love for them will be greater than their love for us, at least initially.
Long before they love us, they are completely dependent on us for their survival. The building of trust is absolutely crucial in a young infant’s life. Many parents want to get their children independent as soon as possible, but if you think about it, doesn’t it make more sense to teach them initially how to be dependent on someone greater than themselves? We play the role of God in their lives until they can understand the concept of God. Ultimately they would be able to transfer that dependency from us to Him.