By Carolyn Cutforth
[dropcap]P[/dropcap]arenting is something that requires incredible skill and knowledge yet we are totally unprepared for it. If you’ve been finding parenting a little stressful at times, you are one of many all around the world! However, God has given us this wonderful responsibility and His Word makes it plain that He considers children a high priority.
Luke 18:16 ‘But Jesus called them (the parents) to Him, saying, Allow the little children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such (as these) belongs the kingdom of God.’ The Amplified Bible.
So, we need to ensure that we are doing the best we can to raise our children in a loving environment which also trains them for successful living as a Christian. Parenting tips can be a helping hand in assisting you in successful parenting.
Christian Parenting Tip 1
You are the parent and your authority must always be clear.
The Bible makes it clear that children are to obey and honor their parents. Honor means ‘high respect’ (Oxford Dictionary). All children respect authority if it is shown in a way that also respects them. Learn to be authoritative in a way that makes sense to your child and without aggression. What does this look like?
– Firstly, mean what you say. It is very confusing for a child if you say one thing and do another. Before you speak, make sure you mean and are able to carry through with what you say. For example, if you say “Come inside now or there will be no TV’ and the child doesn’t come inside, don’t switch on the TV to entice them in, and don’t turn it on just because they are whining or having a tantrum. Let your ‘yes be yes’ and your ‘no be no’.
– Listen to what you say; do you sound authoritative? Raising your voice doesn’t mean you sound authoritative – it often means you’ve lost it! If you want to sound authoritative, lower your tone of voice, speak a little slower and emphasize important words. A low, emphasized voice carries much more authority than one which is raised and loud.
Christian Parenting Tip 2
Let them know your reason and the consequences
– make sure you know why you are requesting a certain behavior (eg the house needs to be tidy for when you come home)
– explain once to the child (eg “When your toys are picked up we will go to the park”)
– remind them of the consequence for disobedience (eg “If the toys aren’t picked up by the time I count 10 we won’t go to the park but will stay home”)
– give them one more chance to obey and follow up with consequence for disobedience immediately if necessary.
– if they have obeyed, reinforce this behavior with a statement (eg “Well done! You picked up the toys and now we will go to the park”)
Don’t fall into the trap of ‘because I told you so’. Don’t reason and argue – they will win because if you find yourself losing your calm tone of voice, or using unnecessary physical force, you’ve lost your authority and their respect. Try not to get emotionally involved in the situation – keep your voice loving but firm, be decisive in your actions of consequence, and be consistent.
Christian Parenting Tip 3
Keep the child accountable for their actions.
Children are quick to blame others. Keep the child accountable for their choices and actions. Use the words “You choose to __________ therefore you choose the consequence of ________”. This teaches the child responsibility. It teaches them that there is a consequence to every choice they make. This is a central part of learning called self-discipline.
Christian Parenting Tip 4
Relationship with your child will be more powerful than any discipline.
The Bible says that God disciplines those He loves.
Revelation 3:19 ‘Those whom I dearly and tenderly love, I discipline and instruct them’
Children respond to disciplinary efforts more effectively if they are given out of a loving relationship. If you and your child have developed a mutually respectful and loving relationship, training will be much easier.
Christian Parenting Tip 5
God gave each of us free will – obedience doesn’t come by force
You train a child to be obedient, usually by consequences to their choices and actions. You can’t force a child to be obedient and keep their respect for you as a parent. Heavy-handedness may seemingly produce desired behavior but underneath could be a seething bubble of frustration. Remember, God instructs parents, especially fathers, not to frustrate their children.
Colossians 3:21 ‘Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children (do not be hard on them or harass them) lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. (Do not break their spirit)’ The Amplified Bible
God’s Word talks about disciplining with the rod. This kind of discipline must also be done in a controlled and loving way, never through anger. If you are a firm believer in using ‘the rod’, ensure that your actions are done within a framework of procedures. Hitting out at a child is not Godly discipline; neither is grabbing hold of the wooden spoon and smacking a child with it. God doesn’t discipline us with fear. He should be our role-model.
Part of successful Christian parenting is raising your child to love God. As parents, you are the child’s role model of Father God. Loving authority, like God’s authority with us, teaches your child responsibility and self-discipline.
Carolyn Cutforth is a teacher with over twenty years experience, and a mother of three grown up girls, and three grand-daughters.