Anyone who claims to have all the answers to raising children is either a devout believer in the Easter bunny or unmarried.
I once asked some parents who had raised three faithful Christian children how they did it. The father surprised me (it shouldn’t have been a surprise) by saying: “Well, we prayed a lot.”
Every successful parent has prayed a lot, of that I can assure you. Every successful parent has also made mistakes. Of that I can assure you too.
I don’t mean to berate broken-hearted parents whose children no longer live a Christian lifestyle. I do hope to be an encouragement to those parents whose children are still young and in the home.
Teachers can tell a myriad of stories about being confronted with indignant parents of children whom they have reprimanded. It becomes quickly clear that the children’s lack of respect for authority came from their parents.
If I were asked what was the greatest mistake made by parents in our day, I would respond: A failure to discipline them.
By this I do not mean a return to the days when “whipping” kids was the parental default. Losing cell phone or Internet privileges (a fate considered by the young worse than death) might be used.
Use of the carrot as well as the stick helps: “If you don’t obey, this privilege will be taken away, if you obey, this privilege will be given”). Children in schools exhibit signs of great indulgence by their parents and little discipline.
“There was a time when we expected nothing of children but obedience,” Anatole Broyard observed, “as opposed to the present, when we expect everything of them but obedience.”
Kids need to be taught the following: Respect for their elders. Consideration for others. Keeping one’s word. Humility. Whatever one’s hand finds to do, do it with all one’s might. Fairness and compassion for those less fortunate. Love for the church. Love for God.
Especially the last two: Parents, please speak positively of the church before your children. Please do not give them the impression the church is there for our harsh, mocking derision. I am not saying the church is beyond criticism, but please be aware of eager, impressionable ears.
And if I can put it kindly but clearly: If the Lord’s cause is not number one in our lives, it is unlikely it will be number one in their lives.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with promise), that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land” (Ephesians 6:1-3, ESV).