How are we as a family supposed to raise our children “in the fear and admonition of the LORD” as the Bible encourages us to do in Ephesians 6:4? We have young children and we want them to grow up to be men and women of character, maturity and competence.
In our book “Be the Best Mom You Can Be” (www.BeTheBestMomYouCanBe.com ) we talk a lot about raising your children up to maturity in Christ even in the midst of a very difficult cultural environment. It’s great that you are starting young. That is a big head start.
Here are three ideas for you, basic ones but very important cornerstones for raising healthy and well-adjusted Christ-loving children:
1. Be sure that you and your spouse are yourselves growing in faith and hope and love. There is no replacement for the authentic Christian life. As Jesus Himself taught us in John 15, we ourselves must be closely connected to Him. Our kids will see those fruits He promised: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.
2. Be sure to love your kids in ways they understand and appreciate. A good friend of mine grew up in a very wealthy home. The kids almost never saw the father except at Christmas when they went on a family ski trip together. The dad felt this was a great gift to the kids — and that they should understand his ‘love’ for them. Unfortunately my friend just wanted to spend time with her dad through the year. And she never got that. Like my friend, most kids spell the word LOVE in a funny way: T I M E. Let’s give them the love/time/hugs/support/prayers they need.
3. Discipline them appropriately. This is a very big subject, but we should always remember the 10 to 1 Rule. Ten Parts love, encouragement, support, and positive feedback for every 1 Part discipline. Very few parents get this balance right — but it is like magic when we do. Discipline must also be age and child appropriate … and carefully calibrated to the offence.
Finally, we must remember never to discipline in anger. The goal of all discipline it to help our children learn about reality: actions have consequences. Good actions yield good consequences. Bad actions result in bad consequences. All mature adults understand this; very few children do. Our job is to help them understand this iron clad rule (in love).
Raising mature, well adjusted, God fearing children into adulthood is a long road. There are no shortcuts — but it is a journey of joy. As you see your children becoming the young men and women the LORD intended them to be: there is no great joy on this earth. Be sure that you and your spouse are united in this worthy goal. That’s important, because you will face many challenges along the way.
In my book for Dads (www.BeABetterDadToday.com ) we lay out the Fatherhood Toolset: the Ten Tools that every Dad needs in his fatherhood toolset. Sure they require effort to master. And yes we are going to make mistakes sometimes. But I sincerely believe that every man can be a good dad. We just need to master the tools. And master the tools we can; with commitment, diligence and love for our family.
The easiest way to ‘parent’ children these days is to give the job to others (nannies, prep schools, etc.). Some dads get so wrapped up in our jobs that we feel we must outsource our fatherhood role. But in the long term that makes no sense. Why would we want to outsource our most important job?
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. But as they used to say at NASA “failure is not an option.” So enjoy the road ahead with your family. Make every day a blessing. Sooner then you know the weeks will turn to months, the months to years and your children will be grown. And if you’ve raised them in ‘the fear and admonition of the LORD’ you will have done something no one else on this entire planet could have done for them.
Well done, good and faithful Mom and Dad.