1. LOVE. Because of love parents have compassion for their children, Psalm 103.13. They know how to give good gifts to their children: “Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7.9-11. The apostle Paul speaks of a father’s love for his children. “As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children” 1 Thessalonians 2.11. Parents must learn to die to themselves, to extinguish their own selfishness, so that they might love their children with true love.
2. DISCIPLINE. The parent who loves his children will discipline them, Hebrews 12. The principle comes from of old: “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights” Proverbs 3.12. The proverbs are not few, among them these: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” Proverbs 22.15; “Discipline your child, and he will give you rest; he will bring you happiness” Proverbs 29.17. From discipline received by parents, a child learns self-discipline.
3. TEACHING. The Lord himself said that Abraham was chosen and given promises “so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” Genesis 18.19. In the great passage of Scripture revered by Jews, Moses said, “Teach them repeatedly to your children” Deuteronomy 6.7. Even small children ask why, and they deserve an answer. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6.4.
4. EXAMPLE. Teaching without example is hypocrisy. Parents should teach and show, because children need to hear and see. Paul wrote, “And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things” Philippians 4.9. Children with hypocritical parents become rebellious sons and daughters. They best learn total commitment and dedication to the Lord by seeing it at home. Parents should have as their goal to make disciples of their children. So they must do like Jesus, and leave them example of service, love of the family of God, and outreach to the lost, 1 Corinthians 10.33–11.1.
5. SUPPORT. When dealing with support for widows, Paul sounded out the general principle, “But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” 1 Timothy 5.8. Children need a stable home life and a basic level of material necessity. Parents often think of this first, even to the exclusion of the spiritual need, and in that priority they err. Nothing is more important than the kingdom of God, Matthew 6.33. (They also do them no favors by letting able-bodied adult children live off their weakness. If such children will not work, do not let them eat! 2 Thessalonians 3.10.)
Christmas and birthday presents are good, but the best gifts are those that will remain forever, and in eternity, with the children.