Parenting is a very high calling that comes with great responsibility. The failings in world systems can be attributed to poor parenting. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Our first responsibility as parents is knowing the way the child needs to go. The fear of failing in this responsibility can sometimes make us panic if we are unprepared for the task. We must however realize that every child under our care is first God’s property before anything else, even before we can call them ours. Therefore, the most effective way to raise these children is to ask God how he wants us to raise them. Raising children without God is like trying to operate an automated machine without following the instructions of the manufacturer. Just imagine what happens when you power a vehicle designed to use PMS with Diesel (Gas); the result would be chaotic and could even make the engine irreparable.
When we understand how God wants us to raise the children he has put in our care, we must immediately commence the training process. I love the fact that Proverbs 22:6 specifically instructed us to train the “Child”. It didn’t say train them when they are old. No, it says to train them when they are little children. Many adults vividly remember their childhood experience even more than experiences they have had more recently. Science has shown that children begin to respond to and identify sounds while they are still forming in the womb, so by the time they are born, their sense of hearing is fully activated. It’s advisable to begin the training process from the very day they are born, for instance praying with them daily, reading the Bible to them and generally showing them politeness. This helps shape their concept of life.
Teach them from cradle to be totally dependent on the Bible. When children understand and believe what Psalm 119:105 says, their entire life’s journey becomes easier, because they know that the Word of God lightens their paths, guides them and answers every question they may ever have about who they are or what they need to do. A child that is strongly rooted in the Word of God cannot be easily swayed by the deceit of the devil. Teaching them about the Bible can only come from consistently reading the Bible with them daily. When they are old enough to do it on their own, being available to discuss the Bible with them is very important.
Parents must also live out the Bible. If you want to have godly children then you must be godly. Lead by example. You cannot train godly children if you are not godly (Psalm 112:1-2). If you don’t fear the Lord, how do you pass this along to your children? We have heard it over and over again that “children do what they see not what they are told”. The instructions you give the children should come from the examples you set for them. You cannot tell them that lying is bad when you are constantly on the phone in their presence telling the person on the other end a lie that the children can detect. Likewise, parents that are always filled with strife and bitterness cannot teach their children to be loving, kind or compassionate. We as parents must constantly obey the commandments of God as taught in the Bible. This way, the children understand that you are not asking them to do impossible things.
Christian parents must learn to be approachable and available to their kids. Do not be that parent whose children run into their rooms or pretend to be asleep when you get home. Children are very inquisitive and it’s important as parents to be available to respond to their enquiries because if we are not, they will search for answers from other more approachable people – friends, relatives or outsiders, and God help us if the answers they find are not in line with the godly principles we are trying to raise them by. Being approachable will often take a lot of patience from us as these children can really get on our nerves sometimes, but our focus must always remain on the goal: raising godly kids.
We must also ensure that we are always very clear and honest in answering their questions. A friend recently shared an experience they had with their 5-year-old while they were on vacation in Disneyland, Florida. Their daughter was interacting with a child who had two mummies, instead of a mum and a dad as she was used to seeing in Nigeria. This aroused her curiosity and for days afterwards she kept asking questions. My friend and her husband had to gather courage to tell their child the truth about what the situation with those people was. They had to make reference to what God said about such in the Bible. There is no point trying to hide certain things from children because we feel they are too young to understand or they will be negatively impacted by the truth. These children understand what goes on in the world today and it’s better we are the ones giving them the details, especially as regards sexuality, drugs and other societal ills.
While some parents were waiting for their children to become teenagers so they could give them pep talks on certain vices, a lot of children have been innocently initiated into pornography, drugs and crime because they had no idea where it could lead to. We should normalize having age-appropriate conversations with our children about all of these immoralities. Thank God for technology, a lot of resources are available online to teach parents age-appropriate terms to use while having these conversations with their children.
Raising godly children also requires a lot of discipline and firmness. Proverbs 3:12 tells us that the Lord disciplines those he loves. Discipline starts with having clear rules and regulations in our homes. These rules are broken when disobedience sets in on the part of the child; and under no circumstance should we condone this. If you let them get away with it once, be sure to expect them to do worse things afterwards. Every child must understand that there is a consequence for their actions and it is our responsibility as parents to dish out these consequences in love without breaking the child’s spirit. Children should also be rewarded for good behavior. Thinking that a child is too young to be punished when he has done wrong or does not need to be praised or rewarded for being good are great threats to responsible parenting. There are age-appropriate rewards and punishments that we must all learn to adopt. Even a suckling child heeds to the mother’s corrections.
Christian parents must also understand the fact that each child has their own distinct personal traits and personalities and it’s our responsibility to be observant from an early age to decipher what works for each child. Understanding what works for each child will help us adopt the method of discipline that best suits each child.
Communicating constantly with our children both verbally and non-verbally helps strengthen the relationship we have with them. Communication must be both ways: while we talk to them, we must always listen to them as well. Allowing them express their thoughts and opinions on issues and allowing them have a say in decisions especially as it relates to them always gives the children a sense of responsibility. For instance, conversing with them on daily schedules, tasks and leisure time can increase their commitment to such schedules. Also, constantly communicating with our children can help us identify distress or abuse.
Finally, pray with and for your children without ceasing, this teaches them to be absolutely dependent on God.