"Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it."
Parenting: the process of raising and educating
a child from birth to adulthood.
Being a parent is not easy in today's society. The media and the secular world are full of advice on how to raise children. Parenting is made even more difficult by divorce, poverty, and violence that are prevalent in our modern world. If you are confused, turn to God's Word for help and guidance.
Above all else, Christian parenting is to be based on love. As you go about the task of raising children, you are to love them deeply from the heart,1 just as God loves you.2 In fact, everything you do with your child should be based on love.3 If you become discouraged in your role as a parent, remember that even if you make "mistakes," love will make up for your lack of perfection.4 In the final analysis, love never fails.5
One of the most important ways you can show love to your children is to teach them the Bible. God's Word contains an important reference guide on training your children to behave and act appropriately. Hiding the Scriptures in your child's heart will help him resist sin,6 and ensure that when he grows up he will not turn from God's commandments.7
As you teach your children, try to be positive,8 and be careful how you talk to them. When you speak, try to be Christ-like,9 and re-member that "reckless words pierce like a sword,"10 and the things you say to your child in anger can have significant impact on their entire lives. Learn to hold your tongue.11,12 Be patient and kind;13,14 speak quietly, and try not to shout all the time.15 Think before you speak,16 and be careful not to embitter17 or exasperate18 your children. Treat all your children equally, and do not show favoritism for one child or the other.19
Another way you can show love to your child is through the proper application of discipline.20 When considering different forms of discipline, the Bible clearly advocates corporal punishment as an essential technique for training children.21 Of course, there are other forms of discipline that parents can use, and great care must be taken when administering corporal punishment.**
** Please Note: Solomon's advice was to use a "rod" when disciplining. However, in today's society, this form of punishment is generally not permissible under current laws and social norms. Other forms of corporal punishment, such as spanking with your hand, would normally be permissible. If you have any questions, check with your local authorities.
However, based on King Solomon's advice, appropriate use of corporal punishment is clearly consistent with Biblical guidance.22,23 In fact, properly administered corporal punishment may be important for your child's very salvation.21
When you discipline your children (in whatever form), you are giving them a blessing, just as we ourselves are blessed when God disciplines us.24 God disciplines us for our sin,25 and this discipline is good for us, so that we may share in His holiness.26
When you receive discipline from God, or when you give discipline to your children, it isn't very pleasant, nor is it meant to be.27 However, the "fruits" of discipline are worth the "pain." Proper fear of our heavenly father makes us wise,28 helps keep us out of trouble,29 and helps us lead successful and honorable lives.30
Some parents worry that if they discipline their children that their children will not "like them." The main goal of parenting is not to have your children like you; however, it is extremely important that your children grow up to obey you and respect you.31,32
Finally, some parents worry that if they discipline their children, their children will be "afraid of them," or fear them; however, a child's fear of his parents is not necessarily a bad thing. A child's fear of his parents is analogous to an adult's fear of God. Proper fear of our heavenly Father33 helps keep us from sinning,34 and makes us wiser.35
Bottom line...when you properly discipline your children, things will turn out better for you and for them. When children are properly disciplined, they tend to live more righteous lives;27 and when they grow up, they bring peace and joy to their parents.36
A Final Note: Most authorities would not advocate corporal punishment before age 1 or after the age of 8-years-old. To be effective, corporal punishment should be used cautiously and sparingly. It is most often recommended for use in connection with dangerous or clearly defiant behaviors exhibited by the child. Of course, not all modern authorities would agree with the use of corporal punishment. The biblical perspective is emphasized in this Lesson, as found in God's Word.
Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8)4
Love never fails.
(1 Corinthians 13:8)5
I have hidden your word in my heart that I
might not sin against you.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old
he will not turn from it.
Pleasant words promote instruction.
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking
the very words of God.
(1 Peter 4:11)9
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the
tongue of the wise brings healing.
Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch
over the door of my lips.
When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.
Be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Love is patient, love is kind.
(1 Corinthians 13:4)14
The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
Do you see a man who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Fathers, do not embitter your children,
or they will become discouraged.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead,
bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
To show partiality in judging is not good.
He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish
him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod
and save his soul from death.
The rod of correction imparts wisdom,
but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the
discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds,
but he also binds up; he injures,
but his hands also heal.
You rebuke and discipline men for their sin.
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as
they thought best; but God disciplines for our good,
that we may share in his holiness.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of
righteousness and peace for those
who have been trained by it.
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates correction is stupid.
He will die for lack of discipline,
led astray by his own great folly.
He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame,
but whoever heeds correction is honored.
He must manage his own family well and see that
his children obey him with proper respect.
(1 Timothy 3:4)31
We have all had fathers who disciplined us and we
respected them for it. How much more should we
submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Fear the LORD your God, serve him only
and take your oaths in his name.
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has
come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you
and keep you from sinning.”
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Discipline your son, and he will give you peace;
he will bring delight to your soul.