As Christians, we are called to be light in a world of darkness. In the same way, we are called to be distinct from the world around us. Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (13:35, ESV) If we are to take this calling seriously, we need to consider exactly what this distinction is going to look like in our lives. How can we show love to others if we have never been taught how to love? How can we show genuine love to others if we do not start at home with our own families? Understanding how Christian parenting is different from the parenting of the world can inform the way we love others and can influence all of our relationships throughout our lives. This article examines a Biblical view of parenting and provides some parenting tips and advice from a Christian counselor’s perspective.
What Does the Bible Say About Parenting?
There are many specific examples of parenting in the Bible. Many of them do not provide examples of healthy parenting from any perspective ̶ just think about the favoritism Jacob displayed toward his son Joseph, as one specific example. Rather than looking at flawed individuals’ attempts at being parents, a better way to examine what the Bible tells us about parenting is to look at how God parents his people because God is the ultimate parent. Some people today read the Old Testament and think that God was rather mean. Another way to look at the Old Testament is to see that God was parenting His people Israel ̶ and that job of parenting can occasionally require tough love. God protected and provided for the people of Israel when he brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. God also set up specific rules for the people and explained that these rules were for their own good. When the people of Israel were disobedient, God was firm with the boundaries He set ̶ but he always provided room for his people to repent and change their ways. And God never left his people, even when they turned away from him. He continues to pursue each of us, no matter what we do.
Bringing Christian Parenting in Line with God’s Parenting
A few practical ways to bring our Christian parenting in line with how we see God parenting in the Bible include quality time, firm boundaries, and expressive love.
Spend Quality Time with Your Children
First of all, if we are not intentional about spending quality time with our children, they will not have a chance to really get to know us. Children require more attention than adults, and if we are not intentional about giving them attention for the good things they do, they will find ways to get our attention even if it means negative attention. Christian parents should make it a priority to spend quality time with their kids. There is almost no better way of letting a child know they mean something to you than spending time with them.
Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
Another practical tip for Christian parenting is to set firm boundaries. Just as God set rules for his people in the Bible, as we saw above, so Christian parents should do the same. Children need parents to show them how to be mature adults. Parents do this by modeling and by setting appropriate but firm boundaries for their children. Children may not be able to communicate this, and they may not even be fully aware of it, but children know that their parents care for them when they have appropriate boundaries. They also know that their parents do not care for them when their parents do not set boundaries and follow through on them.
Express Your Love for Your Children
Finally, one last way to bring Christian parenting in line with God’s parenting is through expressive love. The Bible tells us very specifically that God loves us ̶ in fact the Bible tells us that God is love. As I mentioned previously, Jesus told us that others will know we are Christians by our love. Christian parents should be ready and willing to express love to their children. Christian parents are attempting to provide their children with a tangible example of God’s love for them. When people are truly loved and cared for by their parents, they get a small glimpse of what God’s love for us looks like.
Christian Counseling Can Support You as a Christian Parent
If you are having trouble in your role as a parent, or simply need some encouragement in order to be the parent God wants you to be, please contact me. As a Christian counselor, I would be happy to help you get back on track with your priorities and get back to being a Christian parent whose love points to the ultimate love of God for his children. For more information on how Christian counseling can support you as a Christian parent, please contact us here.
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