What is raising Christian children all about? We want our children to be good, whatever that means. We’d do anything to make them that way. And yet we see many children raised in Christian homes growing up to be anything but Christian. What can we do to make our home different?
It’s important to realize that you can’t make your child Christian, and you can’t make your child good—only God can do that. But as a parent you are responsible for ‘training your child in righteousness’ and leading him in the right way, and your model of Christian living will be one of the single most influential things in your child’s life—for good or for bad.
Remember: It’s what you do more than what you say. You can talk the talk all day every day, but if your child sees that your life and your ‘beliefs’ don’t mesh, he will consider you a hypocrite and, when the time comes for him to choose, choose a lifestyle as different as possible from those ‘beliefs’ you pretended to espouse.
So if you want kids with Christian values, live as a Christian. Put others before yourself, and put Christ first of all. Practice self-denial. Practice joy.
Living as a Christian is the most important first step in bringing up Christian children, but it’s not the end-all be-all. Your children need discipline, guidance, and teaching as well.
Discipline is no-one’s favorite thing, but it’s important. We’re all born selfish, and your children are no exception. Appropriate discipline helps your child learn how to make decisions on what is right rather than feelings, and enables him to control himself and not be a slave to his own desires or emotions.
It’s also important that you talk with your child about God and the Christian walk. Read bible stories to your children, starting with simple toddler-bible stories when they are two and three, and going on with age-appropriate storybooks until they are able to understand straight from the good book at around eight or nine.
As a parent, you have the responsibility to bring your child before God and intercede for him or her. Make a habit of praying for your child every night at bedtime, at mealtimes, or whenever it is easy for you to remember. Anytime you are worried about your child, turn your worry into a prayer and bring both your child and the cause of your worry to your heavenly father.
Remember, he cares even more than you do. You may think you love your child, but next to his great big overwhelming love your love is as nothing. Entrusting your child to the Savior is putting him in the safest place anyone can be. The God who watches each sparrow has every hair on your child’s head counted.
Parenting is like one enormous trust exercise. But our God is there every step of the way, and he is worthy of trust.