What is Christian parenting? It means raising our children by the principles in God’s word. The Bible contains lots of guidelines and even commands for parents, teaching them how to parent their children in a God-honoring way.
• Being loving. “Love, for the day is near.” “Let all that you do be done in love.” The Bible is full of commands about loving, and family relations are no exception. We won’t be able to direct or lead our children effectively if we don’t love them first. Building a strong, loving relationship with our children is the first and most important step in Christian way of parenting.
• Being firm. Christian parenting also means being firm and teaching our children obedience even when it is uncomfortable. The Bible tells children to obey parents and commands all of us to submit to appropriate authorities. Both of these are very, very hard to do unless the right foundations have been set in childhood. If we don’t know how to submit to earthly authority, we will also have difficulty submitting to God’s authority. Obedience is an extremely important lesson. Be gentle, but be firm and consistent.
• Avoiding Anger. Anger clouds our judgment and blocks us from making good parenting decisions. It also sets up walls between us and our children, and makes our children unable to see our love. No parenting decision, ever, should be made in anger. Discipline should be given when and if discipline is necessary, but never by an angry parent or because a parent is hurt or offended.
• Teaching our children about consequences. It’s important to let our children know there are consequences to their actions; good consequences to right actions, bad consequences to wrong or un-thoughtful actions. A child who is overly protected from the consequences of his own actions will have difficulty navigated the world when he grows up.
• Teaching our children to love. Children are born naturally selfish, and they often need encouragement to come out of themselves and empathize with and love other people. Christian way of parenting involves teaching our children to love; showing them ways they can help other people, and giving them opportunities to experience the joy of giving.
There’s another extremely important aspect of Christian parenting that many parents, tragically, miss. They take their children to Sunday School, they work hard on the discipline, and they make their children give gifts to orphans or missions every now and then. But they don’t live the life. Your children have a front seat on your life, and if you aren’t living a loving, giving, victorious Christian life, your children know it. They might obey what you tell them and go through the motions as you require them to, but their heart will not be in it, and they will be out of the church at the first opportunity.
The best way to share Christ with your children is to live him in every aspect of your own life. Let them see you choose the hard way because it’s right. Let them see you squash your anger and decide to love instead. Let them see the light and happiness on your face as you give and share. Let them see that for you Christianity is not a religion, but a living, breathing, utterly alive and absolutely joyful thing. When they see this they will have no qualms about choosing the narrow way for themselves.