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I called this series "The What, How, and Why of Biblical Parenting," but in hind sight, I should have switched the how and the why. Because really, if you don't know why you're doing something, the how doesn't matter all that much.
I've heard Biblical parenting put down over and over again. "Experts" claim that it doesn't work, that it's archaic, that there are now better and more modern ways of child rearing.
So, why does Biblical parenting matter?
Biblical parenting matters because God's Word commands us to do it.
That's really all there is to it. All the child-rearing experts in the world can claim whatever they want about Biblical parenting. If they are recommending that I do something contrary to God's Word, they are in error. There may be newer, more appealing ways of stewarding these little charges from the Lord, but if those new ways don't align with what the Bible teaches, these ways are not for believers.
We're commanded to raise up Godly offspring. And while we cannot save our children, we can be obedient to teach them the ways of the Lord to the best of our ability. We can administer justice and give mercy. We can be both firm and gentle; the two are not incompatible, as evidenced by two of God's attributes: He is both loving and just.
I'm not necessarily against all modern-day parenting wisdom. The loving aspect of attachment parenting is to be commended. But it's the attachment-parenting's tendency toward indulgence that causes me to pause. I once read about a mother who dropped everything she was doing every time her toddler wanted her attention. Finishing a conversation with your spouse before turning your attention to your children - provided there isn't an emergency - teaches patience and respect.
Speaking softly to a child, no matter the circumstances, shows a great deal of patience on a parent's part and should be commended in most cases. But if there is an oncoming car and my child is standing in the street, or if Turbo's blood sugar is low and he's too absentminded to get a snack, I will yell for the safety of the child. There is no sin in those instances. (That said, I personally yell too much when it's not needed, and it's something I'm working on. I hope to share some of my victories and tips in upcoming post.)
Sadly, I've seen other parents - even other Christian parents - get caught up in parenting strategies that stray from what the Bible teaches. One young mom fell in love with the idea that "there are no bad children," and another believed that we simply need to model good behavior for our kids and that they'll naturally follow suit. Yes, we absolutely need to model Biblical behavior, and there is much to love about our little ones. But to say that a child is "born" good and that society turns him toward evil is in direct opposition of what the Bible says (Romans 3:23).
All of this confusion raises another question: How can you be sure what the Bible really teaches about parenting?
There's really only one way to determine what is and what isn't Biblical parenting, and that's to read God's Word. There are parenting tidbits sprinkled throughout Scripture, both about what to do and what not to do as we raise these little arrows.
Every day, as you read the Scriptures, keep a notebook and jot down every reference to parenting. Pray about what the Lord is teaching you and begin applying it in your daily parenting attempts. Ask the Lord how He would have you parent. Involve your spouse as much as possible; parenting is a team effort!
Read quality parenting books written from a Biblical perspective. If you need suggestions, I found Ginger Hubbard's Don't Make Me Count to Three and Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson to be helpful. The Shepherding A Child's Heart series also comes highly recommended, but in complete honesty, I personally found it to be a dry read and never finished it.
It's important to Biblically parent our children, but we also need to understand why it is so important. Since God has commanded us to this kind of parenting, we need to follow His commandment with all our heart, praying for wisdom and humility as we do so. Don't forget that the goal of Biblical parenting is to reach our children's heart for Christ.
The Holy Spirit will equip us as believers to follow through on any task that God has given us, including the task of child rearing. Even if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of Biblical parenting, take comfort in know that that He is equipping us to obey!
Your turn: How do you view Biblical parenting? What verses have been most helpful to you as you raise your little ones in light of the Gospel?