A recurrent theme in the Bible is the training of children through teaching and example. The book of Deuteronomy explicitly states that children should be taught the ways of God:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).
The book of Proverbs is a compendium of the wisdom of God’s people. The family and the nurturing of children in the faith is one of its strong emphases: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Timothy had been taught the Scriptures from infancy, according to God’s command and Jewish custom: “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
Paul speaks of the necessity for continuity in how we train and discipline our children: “. . . when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).
The Bible teaches that parents have the responsibility of training and disciplining their children so that they might be brought up knowing the Bible and honoring the Lord.
1. Encourage parents to provide the kind of home that is conducive to solid spiritual and mental development:
A. A stable, peaceful, and loving home.
B. A family-centered home where there is a sense of solidarity, mutual respect, and encouragement; a home where the family does things together, especially when children are younger.
C. A God-centered home where each member has the right to respond to God’s love in Christ and to be taught how to live from a spiritual perspective (Proverbs 22:6). (This would be an appropriate time to ask the parent if he or she has ever received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As appropriate, present “Steps to Peace with God,” Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD
D. A church-oriented home. It is much easier to raise children when their lives and those of their families and friends are centered in the church.
E. Parents should introduce their children to the world of the mind by example and practice. If parents are readers, children are likely to read also. Good books and magazines on the child’s level should be introduced into the home. Music lessons, hobbies, and sports should be introduced while children are at grade school level. This will be a safeguard against conflicts as the teen years come.
2. Encourage parents to recognize that their child has certain rights, but that these rights integrate with those affecting all members of the family. Children have a right to:
A. Be loved and accepted.
B. Receive the kind of reinforcement which leads to self-respect and a sense of security and significance.
C. See their parents demonstrate genuine affection and respect for each other. Examples of mature Christian behavior are needed in order that children may see how the parents handle problems and stress.
D. Be disciplined and punished with fairness and consistency:
(1) Do not expect more from a child than he or she can deliver.
(2) Be fair and just in administering punishment. Excessive demands and harsh physical punishment lead quickly to resentment and rebellion. Parents should be flexible and not demand the “letter of the law.”
(3) Never punish in anger or on the spur of the moment.
(4) Always give an explanation to the child so that he or she knows the reason for the punishment.
3. Encourage the parent to keep the lines of communication open at all costs. They must:
A. Take time to be an attentive listener and take the initiative in encouraging dialogue. There must be frank discussion in regard to sex, drugs, alcohol, dating, and the like.
B. Share experiences from his or her own childhood and teen years, including mistakes and failures.
C. Permit children to question their standards and beliefs. This gives the opportunity to explain and defend those beliefs. Through this, children will formulate their own standards of beliefs and values. They can be challenged and helped in setting goals for the moment and for life.
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11–12, NIV).
“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him” (Proverbs 20:7).
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— ’that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1–4, NIV).
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21).
Other suggested Scriptures:
Proverbs 31:10, 26–28
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996