How can Christian parents succeed in training children in the home? What parenting and child-raising authorities should fathers and mothers follow: the Bible or psychologists, social workers, and educators? What purpose and goal should families pursue? How important are love and instruction in the family and parenting? Should fathers and mothers seek to be parental authority figures? How should parents motivate and discipline unruly children? What about spanking, punishment, and rewards? Is it possible for a father and mother to raise godly children despite modern social pressures in entertainment, recreation, and education?
Why this study is needed:
Families in our society present a serious yet interesting contrast.
Generally families have material and social advantages as great as any generation ever had.
Most families have material goods and luxuries unknown to previous generations. Most have greater prospects for a long life. Most have unparalleled opportunities for education, leisure, entertainment, and recreation.
One might think families would be happy and trouble-free.
Yet families today face incredible conflict and hardship.
* Divorce – As of 1999 marriages were more likely to end by divorce than by death. (James Dobson letter, 11/99)
* Crime – The arrest rate among juveniles nearly tripled from 1965 to 1990. (Bennett, p. 4)
* Government dependence – In 1991 more than one child in eight was raised on government welfare. (Bennett, p. 5)
* Births to unmarried women – In 1990 five times more children were born outside marriage than in 1960. (Bennett, p. 9)
* Single-parent families – 35% of all children now do not live with their biological father. (Dobson letter)
* Suicide – The suicide rate among teens more than tripled from 1960 to 1990. (Bennett, p. 12)
Many families do not have these problems, but the evidence shows that parent-child relationships are facing increasing hardships.
And Christians are by no means immune. In nearly every congregation at least half the young people end up not serving God faithfully.
The subject of raising children deserves careful study.
Why you need to study this subject, regardless of who you are:
* Are you a parent? Surely you know you need to study about raising children.
* Are you a young person, not yet married? Almost certainly someday you will be a parent or will work with children in some capacity (teacher, counselor, etc.).
The time to prepare for an important task is before it begins. If you wait till you face the situation, it may be too late to seek training. Why are you in school now? You are training to prepare for future responsibilities in life. Likewise, you need to study parenthood now before you begin.
* Are you an older person with grown children or no children? You need to teach others God’s will, including teaching about parental duties.
Hebrews 5:12 – The time comes when you ought to be teachers. In particular, men may preach sermons or teach Bible classes or private studies.
Titus 2:3 – Older women too must be teachers of good things. Especially they must teach young women their duties as wives and mothers (vv 4,5).
Acts 20:27 – Christians must teach “the whole counsel of God.” That includes Bible teaching about parenthood. All of us need to learn this!
So if you have children or ever will have them, and even if you don’t have them, as a Christian you need to know God’s will. You need this study!
Our purpose is to learn how parents can raise children successfully despite the problems we face.
The foundational belief in these studies is that God’s word provides the best way to raise children.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. By following God’s word we can raise children who avoid evil and serve God faithfully.
Bible principles about child raising are so critical that we will refer to them as the “keys” that open the door to success. We will consider them under seven headings. Hence, “Seven Keys to Raising Godly Children.”
Note: I do not claim perfection or expertise as a parent. I made many mistakes. Fortunately, my children have overcome most of them. Perhaps you can benefit from my mistakes. But in any case I am not the standard. God’s word is the standard, so we will appeal to it.
As in other areas of God’s word, there are general teachings and specific teachings.
God told Noah to make an ark of gopher wood (Gen. 6:14). Noah had to abide within God’s specified instructions (gopher wood), but he had his choice of many tools or methods that would constitute “making” an ark.
Likewise, God teaches us to take the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). That restricts us to the specified day, but by general authority that we are free to decide what time on the first day of the week.
So also, when God states a principle regarding raising children, we must all act within the teaching of that principle. Yet one family may apply that principle somewhat differently from another family, even though both may be following God’s word.
In this study I may give advice that harmonizes with Bible principles, but that may not be the only way to apply them. But whatever we do must fit what God’s rules say. If what we say or do disagrees with God’s rules, then we are disagreeing, not with people, but with God.