I am thankful to be past the young mommy stage. My sons are all grown and a couple are ready for children of their own. I feel great empathy for those of you who are really trying to raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4)! You have an enormous task ahead of you, and the culture is not helping you one bit!
The method for raising godly children comes from only one source, and that is the Bible. It is the only book that contains all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). If you want to raise godly children then parent and discipline them at the heart level. When they sin, don't be afraid to call it sin and then rebuke them at the heart level. Very often parents rebuke children because their behavior irritates them, or because they have
displeased mom or dad in some way. In those incidences it it all about the parents, not about how the child has not given God glory or honored Him.
A biblical rebuke involves
accountability. Calling the child to account for their actions affects them on the heart level, beyond their emotions and is intended to bring conviction. One very effective way to hold the child accountable is through the use of questions. Questions prick the conscience and cause a person to think rather than emote. I recommend following the model God used in Genesis 3.
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?” He said, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
God knew exactly what had taken place between Eve, the serpent and Adam. He knew where they were hiding and why. But notice, God doesn't make any accusations toward them but instead He asks them questions for the sake of accountability. You must hold your child accountable for their
sin whether large or small. I don't suggest asking "why" questions, but instead ask questions that will provoke thoughts rather than feelings.
Once accountability has been established, then correction needs to be given to the child. Correction is a central
part of discipleship as is the next point, training in righteousness. Too often parents issue edicts of “stop that” as correction without addressing the biblical principle or training their child in what to do. A biblical rebuke and the correction that follows looks like approaching the sin from a spiritual perspective and shows the child God’s message about their sin. It is intended to bring them to godly repentance, not worldly repentance.
Usually the correction phase is where the child receives any consequence for their sinful action. It may be any number of actions set forth in the Bible, including swatting on the bottom. I cannot stress enough that biblical correction or discipline is not "punishment" nor is it abusive. Sending your child to his or her room ("Until they are 21", "Until you can say you are sorry", "Until you know better"...)apart from teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness is pointless. Correction and discipline are supposed to match the sin or violation of trust, not humiliate and embitter the child.
I inwardly cringe when I hear Christian parents talking to their children about getting their punishment. God does not punish His children, He disciplines us. Yes, some forms of discipline are painful for the child to endure, such as appropriate swats on the behind, restrictions such as not having friends over, or not going to activities. For the older child or teenager, nothing hits home like loss of the cell phone, tablet, computer time or driving privileges. These kinds of things are to assist in teaching them their actions have natural consequences, that sin brings consequences in the natural world and in the spiritual world.
As I said previously, along with these other aspects of parenting and discipline you must persist in training your children in righteousness. Teaching and training them on the heart level requires TIME and is the place I see parents really, really struggle. As parents, you have to be an active daily part of their lives and take an interest in your child as a person. Realize that as you train them you are making an investment in them. Training them in righteousness has to become a priority, not something added on to an already overcrowded schedule.
I have seen too many parents set their children on auto-pilot and expect them to "just know" because they are in a Christian school or are just good kids. It is your responsibility, no one else's to raise and train your children. Doing it in a way that honors God might require you to give up your own activities or other things that take you away from your home and those primary responsibilities. If you don't spend time with the kids when they are children, don't expect them to want to relate to you when they become young adults!
Yes, the parenting years are challenging. Yes, they are demanding! Parenthood requires the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the grace and mercy we receive from God to do it well. May we endeavor to honor and glorify God as we raise the next generation.