"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

How to be Successful Christian Parents

Successful Christian Parents Build Children’s Future Character One Day at a Time.

As I update this in July, 2014, my wife and I are the parents of two children aged thirty-six, and thirty-four years old respectively, and multiple grandchildren. In May 2000 when I first wrote this article, our children were both in college.  For some time we have been students of human nature and the Bible’s teachings on parenting. Before our first child was born, we studied the Bible and searched other books written by godly men for wisdom on raising children. In our early twenties we had the good fortune to come across an old book by John R. Rice, a fundamentalist Southern Baptist Preacher from Tennessee, who greatly influenced our approach to child discipline.

Brother Rice came from a family where the rod, which was usually a switch from a convenient willow tree, was firmly applied to his backside by his parents at the first sign of need. By his own admission, he was a strong willed child, and frequently needed the rod! Brother Rice’s practical explanation of scriptures convinced us that if we really loved our children we would discipline them early and often!  It is counterintuitive to many parents, raised in permissive Western society, to believe that children would ever need to be spanked.  To me, the starting point for answering any question, no matter how controversial, is found in Galatians 4:30 “but what does the Scripture say?”

Our first question is, does the Bible have anything to say about disciplining children?  There are approximately 40 passages in the Bible that speak to the subject of child discipline.  They are split between the Old and New Testament. The verses in the New Testament do not conflict with, or supersede the Old Testament verses. The New Testament clearly affirms that the Old Testament verses are still valid and uphold the value of discipline to children. The writer of Hebrews, in the New Testament, equates the absence of discipline as proof that a child is not loved by parents.

Hebrews 12:5-11 ESV “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?”

For success at child-discipline, parents must first themselves be under God’s discipline.  Parents who resist instruction from the Word of God and do not walk in obedience to his revealed truth negatively influence their own children. Parents ignorant of what the Bible teaches will not be corrected and reproved by it, and will not benefit from the many promises in scripture. Children are greatly influenced by their parents’ attitudes, parents who lack reverence for the Word of God will find that their children grow up with disdain towards the authority of the Bible.

 Proverbs 6:23 ESV  “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,”

 Proverbs 10:17 ESV  “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.”  

Successful Christian Parents Discipline Early

The battle for a child’s heart is fought early. We’ve observed that parents who fail to gain firm control over their young children lose what tenuous grip they have as the children get older and smarter. Children, once accustomed to getting their own way through temper tantrums, soon learn how to manipulate and even bully their parents in front of others through their emotional outbursts. At the start of a child’s life the mother bears particular responsibility for teaching a child to be obedient because she spends much more time caring for the child than the father. It is not surprising to see that scripture affirms her responsibility for the early discipline of the child.

Determining when to begin disciplining a child is an important matter that requires prayer, observation, and reflection.  As parents we are rightly focused on providing for the needs of our infant child, but we must not forget that they are born with an inherited sin nature.  Without God’s grace, and the spiritual influence of the Holy Spirit, their self-will is likely to bring them to self-destruction.  By nature, from birth, all children see themselves as the central focus of the universe.  As parents, God has called us to train and mentor our children to understand that God must become the center of their universe.  As we prayerfully consider our interactions with our infant children we will find opportunities to respond to them in a way that reflects God’s love and truth, while communicating their need to make room in their hearts for someone much greater than themselves.

Even young children, who lack a well-developed vocabulary, can be extremely sensitive to the tone of their mother’s voice, and a wise mother will learn to use it carefully to begin the process of disciplining the child from an early age.  Both parents need to understand that from the outset of their lives every child by nature has within them the potential to grow up to be an evil, self-centered tyrant. Teaching a young child to respond from an early age to spoken directions intended for their safety and well-being is not heartless, it is an act of love that will pay a lifetime of dividends to the child.

Teaching a child to focus their attention on spoken directions requires that a parent exercise self-discipline in the manner they speak to their child. Parents must use an appropriate tone of voice, a deliberate and carefully measured cadence, and provide clear and unmistakable directions. Even a young toddler will quickly learn to recognize when a command is given, and will respond appropriately when parents speak carefully, and hold their young children accountable for listening.  By the time children are old enough to crawl they should be taught to immediately stop whatever they are doing and look to their parents for further guidance when they are given the command, “No!”

Proverbs 20:11 ESV “even a child makes himself known by his acts, whether his conduct is pure and upright.”

Parents must give clear and understandable directions to children, and consistently enforce their commands with appropriate consequences. Children are perfectly capable of directing their attention to anything that interests them. They learn effortlessly, and even a toddler who lacks the physical coordination to walk has the mental capability to understand when his parents speak to him in a tone of voice that is intended to get his attention.  For their children’s safety, parents must insist their young children pay attention immediately when they speak.  They should teach their children from an early age to respect and listen to their verbal instructions above anything else that interests them at the moment.  The Bible teaches that even from an early age children demonstrate their character by their pattern of deeds and actions.

It may seem unreasonable to expect a young toddler to stop whatever they are doing and focus their attention on their parents when addressed with a commanding voice, but it is essential to their well-being and safety. It is shameful for parents to permit children to disrespect their authority by allowing them to routinely ignore their verbal directions.  Parents lacking the willpower to consistently discipline their children contribute to the formation of a self-willed and self-centered child.  Undisciplined children grow up believing it is their right to impose their own will on the universe around them because their parents habitually catered to every whim. Parenting done badly brings its own punishment. for a child that is not brought up in the nurture and discipline of the Lord quickly grows into a demanding tyrant who brings misery instead of being a blessing to parents.

Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart”

Psalm 119:60  “I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments”

Undisciplined parents habitually repeat their commands to a child and thus fail to consistently hold the child accountable for immediate obedience. This unwittingly trains the child to develop disrespect and leads to a habit of delayed obedience, which is not obedience at all. Children by nature are curious, always learning, and continuously discovering information about their world.   One of the things they quickly discover is whether their parents deserve to be respected. They will naturally test their parents’ resolve by seeing how long they can wait before obeying directions. Parents should realize they are always training their children, whether they mean to or not. This training can be either positive or negative in its effect, depending entirely on the parents’ wisdom and self-discipline. To give commands and not enforce prompt obedience trains the child to believe disobedience is an option in the face of any parental command the child does not wish to obey.  Parents must make it clear that they will not accept delayed obedience. Delayed obedience is an act of self-will that should not be overlooked. Undisciplined or lazy parents train young children to practice delay as a form of manipulation because they do not enforce prompt obedience.  Delayed obedience is an expression of self-will. In reality it is a form of calculated disobedience that parents should not tolerate. God delights in an attitude of cheerful obedience and this should be our standard of acceptable behavior for our children.

Children are opportunists by nature and can’t resist taking advantage of any perceived weakness of will on the part of their parents.  Parents must take great care not to negatively train children and reinforce them in habits of disobedience.  To avoid this, parents must consistently enforce all their commands by applying appropriate consequences.  When children are older and have learned to give habitual obedience parents can begin to explain the reasons for their directives, but young children should be expected to obey without explanation, discussion, or negotiation.  Once parents give a command, they must never fail to enforce it or they will damage their child’s respect for their parental authority.  Every time parents fail to promptly enforce their directions with appropriate consequences they are setting a precedent in the child’s mind for future acts of disobedience. If parents habitually repeat their directions to an inattentive child they are training the child to devalue their spoken words and teaching the child to disrespect their parents’ authority.

Successful Parents Use Discretion and Pick the Time and Place for Confronting Disobedience

There may be times when it is inconvenient to enforce compliance to parental directions due to the presence of outside visitors in the home.  In such circumstances parents should be wise and exercise discretion to avoid sparking a conflict of wills with the child.  Never give a command that will not be immediately enforced.  At times, it may be wiser for parents to temporarily overlook unwanted behavior, rather than spark a confrontation when they are not able to immediately follow through with the appropriate discipline.

Parents must always be prepared to confront any disobedience and administer the appropriate discipline necessary to bring the child to full obedience.  However, parents effectively teach their children to respect their authority by exercising it carefully.  A parent’s verbal commands to a child should be clear, specific, and appropriate to the circumstances.  Once a parent gives directions they must enforce compliance at the first command or they risk hardening the child in habitual self-will.  Parents who do not promptly enforce obedience to their commands provoke their child’s disrespect and frustrate them by their inconsistent behavior.

1st Timothy 5:14 “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, rule the house, give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

The home is rightfully a place for the mother’s influence and she is given authority is to keep it running in an orderly manner.  The Apostle Paul use of the term “rule” in this passage is not accidental. Mothers are called upon to be rulers in the home, and the word that appears here is used elsewhere for describing the governance of kings and officials.  Scripture calls mothers to exercise their God-given authority to ensure their children subject themselves to parental directions in accordance with Scripture.  If a mother does not have a clear understanding of her role as God’s appointed authority over her young children she will exert an uncertain leadership.  Mothers project authority by their confident and wise rule over their young children; to succeed, mothers must themselves be students of God’s Word, and subject to God’s authority in their own lives.

A mother under the influence of God’s authority will lead her children with wisdom and humility.  A child receives many verbal cues from the tone of voice a mother uses.  A mother should make it clear to the child when she is being directive, by using an appropriate tone of voice and carefully choosing her words so the child will understand the directions and immediately obey.

Each day, a growing child is processing a great deal of information and learning new things about the surrounding environment.  All children have an amazing ability to recognize complex patterns and pull seemingly unrelated bits of information together.  When a mother habitually gives directions to her toddler in the form of a request or a question, the unintended consequence is that the child naturally begins to believe they are in a position of authority over themselves.  A mother may believe she is being reasonable and polite to engage her child’s cooperation by giving directions in the form of a choice, but in most circumstances this is simply inappropriate.  Consistently asking a child for their cooperation rather than being directive actually can distort the child’s view of the world.  It encourages the child to believe that everything can be negotiated and the child need not do anything except those things they choose to do.  This hardens the child in the expression of self-will and is counterproductive.

Successful Christian Parents Limit the Scope of their Children’s Choices and Avoid Negotiating

Children should learn at an early age that in many matters, they have little choice but to cheerfully comply with their parents’ directions, which are always intended for their well-being and protection.  While young children should be allowed to make such choices as what toys to play with, and what snack food they would like to eat, they should not be allowed to influence or bargain over such decisions as when it is time to take a nap, or go to bed for the night, or whether they should cease from an action which is destructive or dangerous.

Parents who allow themselves to be pulled into negotiations over these matters create confusion in the mind of the child and soon find themselves worn-down and manipulated over matters that should be non-negotiable. Children are subordinates and should not be treated as equals by adults. Frequently, mothers will be drawn into negotiations because they are trying to avoid an unpleasant confrontation of wills with their young child.  It is a serious mistake to substitute negotiations for the expectation of immediate obedience.  Children, in any conflict of will with their parents, must learn that they cannot negotiate and it is their duty to cheerfully obey.  Their personal experience of the consequences of resisting the will of their parents should lead them to conclude it is better to cheerfully obey than resist.  The earlier a young child learns that they cannot influence their parents’ decisions, the better it will be for them.  Once they see that their parents are consistent and unchangeable, they will cease resistance, and learn to submit as a matter of habit.  Parents who make everything negotiable dilute their leadership authority; they will be worn down by the child’s insistence on negotiating everything, even simple matters of obedience.  It is unwise, inconvenient, and in certain circumstance can even be dangerous to allow children to set their own terms of obedience.

Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Requiring obedience will provoke a confrontation of wills, but no matter how unpleasant this may be for the mother, and no matter how long it takes, she must tackle every conflict of wills with the goal of leading the child to habitually submit to her God-given parental authority.  This is the foundation for the child’s future salvation, and the reason why parents cannot pass over any display of self-will lightly.  If a child does not learn to subject their will to a parent, what expectation can we have that they will be able to submit to God’s authority?  God has appointed parents to be in authority over their children and commands children to honor and respect their parents.  He has promised to bless children with well-being and long life simply for honoring their parents.  To be an authority over a child is an awesome responsibility; it should not rest lightly on our shoulders. We should be diligent to faithfully represent God to our children by mirroring approval to those things He approves and disapproval for that which He hates.

Successful Christian Parents Train Children to Understand and Respect “No”

A wise mother teaches her child to respond to a vocabulary of obedience from an early age.  This begins with the concept of “no” as an immediate directive to cease and desist. An older infant who struggles on the changing-table can be verbally reprimanded “no” in a sharp tone of voice, and physically restrained from struggling.  As a child begins to clearly demonstrate awareness and sensitivity to these tonal cues in the mother’s voice they should be held accountable for their response.  Training a child begins at a very early age and the responsibility for this falls squarely on the mother.  In the early years of the child’s life she spends more time with the child than the father and at the start of the child’s life, she is the one with the greatest influence

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”

It is the mother’s nature to be tender and kind. Though she has a near monopoly of the child’s attention at the outset of life she can squander this influence if she does not see the importance of consistency and self-discipline in her own conduct. If the mother doesn’t grasp and apply the principles of scriptural discipline, the children will become especially difficult to manage. The disgrace mentioned in Proverbs 29:15 is directly attributed to the mother, which clearly implies that the mother of a child bears the majority of the responsibility for early child discipline.

Proverbs 29:17 “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” 

One benefit from disciplined children is that such children are calmer, more serene, and more secure.  This makes the home a place of rest and delight, and children will be more open and receptive to receiving God’s work of salvation.  Parents need to understand that discipline is not punishment, it is much more positive than negative. The Scripture is very precise in the language and concepts it uses.  Parents who think their job is to mete out justice by punishing children for breaking rules are missing the point of being a parent.  The book of Proverbs provides clear instructions on disciplining children and focuses parents on imparting wisdom and skill at living.  Discipline by nature is not punitive, but designed to encourage correct conduct and habits. When it is received willingly it leads to greater success and opportunities in the child’s life.  Discipline brings approval and positive affirmation from adults who interact with the child. Other children will be willing to play with a disciplined child. Disciplined children are more enjoyable to be around than self-centered children, they do not tax the patience of adults because they  are already learning self-control and awareness of others.

Hebrews 12:11 “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Early discipline is frequently required, and rarely pleasant for children, or parents.  The Scripture wisely warns us against the human tendency to let children go their own way by avoiding the temporary unpleasantness of discipline. Mothers can be tempted to overlook disobedience through their own fatigue, while some fathers can have a tendency to be impatient and excessively strict. Unless father and mother work well together as a team, each encouraging the other, the mother is less likely to maintain consistent firmness towards the young children and thus “spoil them.” Teaming allows the mother’s gentle influence on the father to balance any tendency towards excessive strictness. When father and mother learn to work together as a loving team to nurture and guide their children, they will experience a secure and happy home. Mother and father must continually demonstrate both the justice and mercy of God, displaying both strictness and tenderness, depending on the particular needs of the moment.

Proverbs 23:24 “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.”

Successful Christian Parents Teach Children Self-Control

One benefit of properly training young children, is that later as young adults, they have an attitude towards authority which will open the doors of opportunity and success. Well-trained children are appreciated by adults for their good manners and attentiveness. They grow up with the necessary social skills to be successful in every facet of life because they learn to control their own impulses. A child taught from an early age to consider others before their own self has a completely different childhood experience from a self-centered child.  The disciplined child rarely encounters the sense of rejection that self-centered children commonly experience from both adults and other children.  They are happier and well-adjusted; enjoy deeper interactions with adults, and possess a greater sense of security.  They are not frustrated through vain attempts to make the world adapt itself to their whims but have learned composure and awareness of others.  It is a fact of life that self-centered children are more demanding and tax the patience of those responsible for caring for them, whether it be parents, family, or teachers.  The sooner we can train our children to subject themselves to parental authority the sooner they can begin to experience the joys of socially interacting with others on the basis of mutual respect.  Selfishness is admired only by those with a debased and unrefined character while thoughtfulness and consideration for others is universally admired.

Proverbs 16:32 “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

Children who have learned self-control and consideration of others receive extra attention and affirmation from adults because they are easier to be around, know how to follow instructions, and are less disruptive than self-centered children.  Children who are not self-centered are never born that way, they have been trained to be that way by parents who themselves had self-discipline in their parenting efforts to teach their children to repress their natural selfishness. It is not unkind to discipline children, on the contrary, it is cruel and negligent to withhold discipline because it produces a socially handicapped child.  A self-centered child lacks the necessary awareness of others to effectively navigate the challenges of growing up in a complex and demanding society.  Children who grow up without learning self-discipline frequently blame their parents for their consequent failures.

Our goal is to train our children to act unselfishly and learn self-control.  It is helpful to make an important distinction in our training goals or we may be discouraged.  Selfishness cannot be trained out of children.  Selfishness is bound up in our human nature and cannot be eradicated by any amount of parental training.  It requires the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to suppress the expression of our natural selfishness.  However, children can learn to restrain themselves from acting selfishly, and this is the foundation for a civilized and polite society. Self-control is all about regulating our own behavior, it does not eradicate our sin nature.  When we speak of children as naturally being “little savages” we are specifically addressing the fact that children are born without self-control.  Self-control is not a natural behavior; it must be learned from parents or by the experience of the negative consequences of impulsive behavior.  Parents must civilize each succeeding generation or society will rapidly become wild, chaotic, and dangerous.  Children left to raise themselves and unrestrained by parental influence will often grow up to be violent and dangerous to others.  Scripture holds parents accountable for wisely using the influence they have been given over their children to restrain them from becoming evil.

The essence of self-control is not to be without an evil or selfish thought, this cannot be attained by any member of the human race, save Jesus Christ (who did not inherit sin by virtue of his miraculous conception). By inheritance and genes all men are subject to the defects of Adam’s sin nature.  Self-control is the developed capacity to check our impulsive behavior and to regulate the expression of what is in our hearts through the process of critically examining our impulses.  A person with self-control habitually applies critical judgment to their inward thoughts and motives before allowing them to be expressed in word or deed.

Parents must provide a framework of moral training for their children to apply to their own behavior.  Our children must learn to restrain themselves from the irresponsible and promiscuous expression of their inward feelings and passions.  This training is accomplished by parents through daily discipline and correction, and the careful application of appropriate consequences for our children’s conduct. Parental discipline develops our child’s capacity to recognize that certain thoughts and behaviors are unsuitable for outward expression and must be rejected. Parents must help to restrain their children from acting out their impulses and encourage them to live in accordance with Biblical principles.

Successful Christian Parents Bring Their Children to Know and Understand the Gospel

While it is the parent’s duty to restrain their children’s selfishness and train them how to behave in the home, this is only a stop-gap measure.  Our goal is to bring our children to know God. We act in God’s stead to restrain and check their natural behavior, but our primary goal is to teach our children about God and His Word to prepare them for personal salvation, which is the point where God enters their consciousness and begins to directly influence them.  From start to finish, this should be our overarching goal.  We want our children to enter a covenant relationship with Christ by faith in his atoning sacrifice and should never be satisfied with good behavior, without the accompaniment of a saving faith in Christ. Good parents will labor in prayer and be spiritually exercised over their children’s condition.  How could we want less than that our children would personally know and love our Savior?

Matthew 19:14 “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’”

Parents may wonder at times if they are too strict with their children.  We live in an exceptionally permissive society, so being overly strict is not nearly as common today as it used to be.  Most parents are not strict enough when it comes to disciplining their children. Many parents could significantly raise their expectations for their children’s behavior. We have become so accustomed to living in a permissive society with such very low expectations for children’s behavior that our perspective on what is normal has become warped.  While it is possible to become unbalanced in our approach to discipline by being legalistic and overly strict, God provides the means to prevent this through a healthy relationship with our spouse, and the advice and counsel of parents and trusted friends.  A husband and wife should make it a practice of seeking one another’s counsel and deliberating together on all matters of importance.  This is particularly essential when it comes to disciplining children.  Parents should be in agreement about the appropriateness of the form of discipline and the consequences to be applied for any misbehavior before taking any action.

Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

Parents are subject to sin, and we should always carefully weigh our response before disciplining our children.  We should consider ourselves and ensure that we are not motivated by anger or the feelings of the moment.  In any situation where it is not clear to both parents what should be done, they can talk together before administering discipline.  A spanking is rarely the solution for a tired and cranky child.  Usually sending them to bed for rest is a better response.  Parents who disagree among themselves about the need to discipline, or the form of discipline, should do nothing until they discuss it together and reach agreement.  Children should not be disciplined in the heat of the moment. Discipline should be a carefully measured response to very specific behavior.  Children should be disciplined only after failure to meet clearly communicated expectations.  Children need to be patiently corrected and instructed on how to behave and physical discipline should be reserved for those specific situations where it is needed.  Unless there is clear evidence of willful disobedience, verbal correction is usually the appropriate response.

Disobedience is a serious matter and must never be overlooked, but children must have a clear understanding of their parent’s expectations and understand the ground rules before they can be held accountable for them. In turn, parents need to always be aware that they are representing to their children both the justice and mercy of God; they must be wise enough to know which one is needed at any given time.

Successful Christian Parents Maintain Their Spiritual Balance

Many fundamental truths in the Bible can only be properly understood in the context of balancing principles.  For example, God’s mercy is frequently paired with his justice, and his goodness is paired with his severity in judgment:

Psalm 89:14 “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before thy face.”

Hosea 12:6, “Therefore turn thou to God; keep mercy and judgment, and wait on God continually.” 

Romans 11:22, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shall be cut off.”

For parents, a fundamental part of a balanced approach to discipline is to be as quick to demonstrate affection and approval for good behavior as to apply discipline and correction for bad behavior. When our children were little, we balanced our high expectations for good behavior and obedience by being overtly expressive of our affection and love for our children.  We rarely let them walk by us without giving them hugs and speaking a few kind words of appreciation. God has not commissioned parents just to point out and correct their children’s shortcomings, but to affirm what is right, good, and praiseworthy in their lives as well.

Our children responded positively to this approach and more than once, our friends, looking through our family photo albums, remarked that our children seemed especially happy. They truly were happy children, and they brought us a great deal of happiness as well. Children who have been consistently well-disciplined by loving parents from the very start of their lives will enjoy life; parents need not fear being excessively strict if they balance their high expectations with generous displays of affection, love, and affirmation.

Certainly, parents should avoid a perfectionist’s attitude towards their children.  Successful parenting does not result in children that never make mistakes.  A present awareness of our own sinfulness can keep us from unreasonable expectations that our children would be perfect.  As parents, we should take satisfaction in our children when they are habitually respectful, have a sincere regard for spiritual things, and demonstrate a deepening trust in Christ. No marriage or family is enhanced by the unreasonable expectation of perfectionism.  God’s love is demonstrated by his redemption of imperfect sinners and we all fall into that category!  Parents need high expectations for their children’s behavior, but they should be attainable.  Children need encouragement and affirmation just as much as they need correction.

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Scripture warns fathers not to discourage their children and provoke them to anger by unreasonable expectations.  Many a well-intentioned father has left the scars of their unrelenting perfectionism on sons and daughters who grew up feeling that they would never be good enough to meet their father’s approval.  A present consciousness that it is God’s unmerited favor that made us acceptable in Christ will keep parents from unreasonable expectations that breed resentment and alienate children from God’s love.

Parenting is never quite done, and no parent should rest on their laurels. We should pray with vigilance for our children’s continued spiritual welfare and growth. If we are to be successful as parents, each day our children must assume more responsibility for their own spiritual walk.  Our goal is to smoothly transition our governorship of our children to an end-state where they are subject to God’s governance through the daily influence of the Holy Spirit working within their conscience.  Because this is our ultimate goal, we need to ensure our children grow up with a deep knowledge of the Scriptures as this is the means that God uses to communicate His will to both parents and children.  Parents will find that God is faithful to reveal Himself to their children if they are faithful to train and teach them in accordance with Biblical truth from the very start of their lives.

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