Saturday, September 6, 2008

Parenting - 20 Tips For Raising God-Honoring Children

This is the fifth installment of "39 Lessons, 20 Tips and 10 "Don'ts" For Parenting" by Matt & Elizabeth Schmucker from the most recent edition of 9Marks E-Newsletter on Family and Parenting. Here the Schumakers share 20 tips for raising God-honoring children they have learned as parents:

1. The saying goes, "When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." We believe daddy is actually the problem. From a complementarian's viewpoint one needs to conclude the above saying with, "And if daddy ain't happy in the Lord, ain't nobody happy."

2. In a stay-at-home-mom scenario, dad tends to back away from discipline when mom has been with the children all day. In one sense this is wise as he has not observed the rhythm and rhyme of the day. However, dad needs to catch up and jump in.

3. Talk to both good and not-so-good parents; you'll learn lessons from both.

4. Talking to really old parents may not prove to be fruitful as their memories fade and they'll remember raising kids as either a nightmare or a glorious experience. Talking to parents 5-10 years ahead of where you are seems most fruitful (Prov. 15:22: "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed").

5. Though you may think this premature, have a vision for being involved spiritually with your grandchildren. This will shape even your parenting.

  • Positive example: Paul writing to Timothy said, "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in your also" (2 Tim. 1:5).
  • Negative example: "After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel" (Judg. 2:10).

6. Let your children see you practicing hospitality and let them participate. This breaks down the selfish tendencies all kids have (Rom. 12:13: "Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality").

7. Unbelievers set up their home for the benefit of themselves. Christians should set up and use their homes for the benefit of their family, the church community, and outsiders (notice the order of this list). Supporting verses:

  • "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim. 5:8).
  • "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (Gal. 6:10).

8. If we could do it again, we would not have a television in our home. The television competes with more important things going on in the home. It competes for right thinking in the mind of the child. If you have a television, then watch it with your children (when you can) and play "catch the lies."

9. Our generation of parents encourages children to express themselves and vent all that's on their minds. My parents' generation grew up under the instruction that "Children are to be seen and not heard." Both appear to be out of balance. Proverbs 10:8 says, "The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin." Ephesians 4:29 suggests that the purpose of speech is to the benefit of the listener.

10. You cannot expect younger children to obey if their older siblings do not. Proverbs 10:17 says, "He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray."

11. One's conscience is not the same as the Law of the Lord. If conscience is defined as "That inner-voice that acts as a guide as to the rightness or wrongness of a behavior," then your conscience is only as good as your knowledge of God's Word. An informed conscience can be a trustworthy thing if it is drawing from God's Word, God's Law. An uninformed conscience is incredibly dangerous. Inform your child's conscience by pouring in God's Word.

12. We often speak of a home with the aroma of Christ (peace, hope, forgiveness and love—all for God's glory). Alternatives are homes with the aroma of

  • a bus station—people just passing through
  • a war zone—people fighting all the time

What does your home smell like?

13. "Moral children" does not equal "Christian children."

14. Do a "sermon review" with your children sometime on Sunday. Have each child recap what he or she learned in Sunday School or "big church" and then help them apply it to their own hearts and trials. Then spend time praying for each other's coming week.

15. Martin Luther said he had the responsibility to be the worship leading pastor in his own home. His home was to be both a school and a church. Fathers, do you have this mindset?

16. The unstated implication of Luther's charge (above) is that fathers need to be present to lead in worship. Being in the house with a Blackberry in hands doesn't count!

17. Don Whitney encourages "brevity, regularity and flexibility" in family worship.

18. Build in your children a global vision of God's work in the world and thereby build a Great commission Mindset. We have found that having a map near to where we eat most of our meals is helpful. Reading from Operation World can inform the entire family of God's work in the world.

19. When children ask for permission to do something, their request can fall into one of several categories:

  • Not Wise / Permissible - E.g. out with friends on Sat night
  • Not Wise / Not Permissible - E.g. underage drinking and driving
  • Wise / Permissible - E.g. excused from family chores to prepare for next day's test
  • Wise / Not Permissible - This problem rarely presents itself. Wants to save money for college but is not working age.

The Not Wise / Permissible category is the hardest to deal with. Try to break down the request and sort out in your own mind why you think the request is unwise. Is it your own preference or is it truly unwise? Then encourage them to think through the wisdom of the matter, so that, even if you permit them to do it, they will remember the lesson when things go poorly.

20. Build Godward children.

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