Myths—they intrigue, entertain, and sometimes even humor us. From health and history to sports and science, myths and misconceptions seem to find their way into every realm of human thought and activity—including parenting.
As Christians, we probably dismiss most of the parenting myths we encounter without a second thought, right? After all, we’re Christians, those who look to and depend upon God’s Word to determine our reality, not worldly platitudes or cultural traditions. If you’re among those who think only naïve and untaught Christians fall for unbiblical substitutes when it comes to parenting, maybe you’d better take a look at our list.
Here are ten of the most common myths confronting Christian parents these days. Mom and dad, as you endeavor to raise your children to the glory of God, take note of them:
Myth # 1: “Children must be the first priority in our family.”
Heard that one? According to this myth, the child-centered family is the successful family, so the more attention you give your children, the better they’ll turn out. Basically, you’ve got to prioritize your children over your spouse. No matter how pious they make it sound, it’s not pious at all. The Bible says your spouse is your priority, second only to God. Husbands, you understand this…God commands you to love you wife as your own body (Eph. 5:28). Why? Because you’re in a “one flesh” relationship with that woman (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). There is no such relationship between parent and child; it’s a different level of intimacy. To elevate the relationship with your children above the more intimate relationship you have with your spouse isn’t positive in any sense. It’s a subtle but dangerous myth that always weakens and sometimes wrecks a home. Beware.
Myth # 2: “I should rely mainly upon the church—particularly the children’s ministry, to teach the Bible to my children.”
Most of us would probably deny believing this myth, but how we live tells all. Evaluate your habits at home, parents. Where does the majority of your children’s spiritual instruction take place—church or home? Who provides that instruction—an Awana leader or you? We’re not belittling the role of your local church’s teaching ministries. We are pointing out that Sunday school and youth group should supplement your teaching at home, not replace it. Both the Old and New Testaments assign parents, not pastors, the responsibility of teaching their children (See Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
Myth # 3: “The behavior of my children is a sure measure of successful parenting.”
That statement would cease to be a myth with a slight adjustment: Your response to the behavior of your children is a sure measure of successful parenting. See the difference? Your child’s behavior is mostly out of your control; your response is not. None of us, especially after the early years, can control our child’s behavior. But you can and must control your response to their behavior. God’s simple instruction to parents is found in Ephesians 6:4, “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Your success as a parent relates to how faithfully you carry out that charge, not how well your children receive discipline and instruction.
Myth # 4: “Quality time with my children is more important than quantity time.”
Some parents use this myth to ease their guilt for spending too little time with their kids. That’s not the biblical model. When God instructed parents to impart His Law to their children, notice how much time is involved: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:6, 7). We’re mistaken to think we can somehow schedule those teachable moments into a few scattered, “quality” interactions between dinner and dessert. Faithfulness to the parenting task requires more time than that. As you make yourself available, you’ll begin to see how many unplanned opportunities arise out of those times of sitting, walking, lying down, and rising up.
Myth # 5: “My children belong to me.”
Behind this myth is the false notion that, “My children are my property, and it’s my right to raise them as seems best to me.” Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a gift from the Lord.” Even life itself is a gift, isn’t it? But it still belongs to God. Parenting is a stewardship, and we are stewards of all God’s gifts, including our children. We provide care, impart instruction, and teach them to fear God, and one day we’ll give an account to Him for how we carry out our charge. Children belong to God.
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By John MacArthur