A God-Given Responsibility
American Association of Christian Schools
Most adults feel inadequate and ill-prepared for one of life's most important tasks -- parenting. The challenge of producing a child who lives a balanced Christian life has been complicated by a society which has trampled upon the values held by our forefathers. Is it possible to err in this God-given responsibility? Although children are quite resilient, they are often injured by the extremes which parents adopt in their parenting practices. A few cautions are in order.
Caution #1. Do not make excuses for your child when he is wrong.
Running to a child's defense every time he errs shelters him from a very important Biblical principle--sin brings consequences. Children must be taught accountability for irresponsibility and wrong-doing. When a parent excuses inappropriate behavior, he diminishes his child's respect for authority and God Himself. Granted, injustices will arise which will necessitate a parent's intervention, but this should be the exception and not the rule. In, fact, a few injustices will serve to introduce your child to "real life." Some of life's greatest lessons are learned through mistakes, but not if your child never makes one.
Caution #2. Avoid making all of life's decisions for your child.
Decision making is an integral part of the maturation process. As the drive for independence increases with age, your child must be trained to make some decisions on his own. Undoubtedly, every child will make some unwise decisions. It is far better to make the unwise choices in the smaller matters than in the monumental decisions which will face your child immediately following departure from home. A child who is forced to depend completely on parents for decisions in areas such as friends, clothing, and money will no doubt be greatly hindered in the major quandries of life. Allowing your child freedom to choose while he is still under your influence will help produce a stable young adult. Teaching your child how to make decisions and providing the freedom to apply the decision-making process in an important part of parenting.
Caution #3. Never compare your child to other children in the family or Chistian school.
Although parents know that God has created and gifted all children differently, they often find it difficult to accept. In our performance-oriented society, children must be beautiful, athletic, or intelligent to compete with their peers. Thus, the child is helpless if he does not have at least one arena where he does not have to vie for the top spot. Parents must accept their child, as God made him and not as he compares to his peer group. Naturally, a parent will have high expectation for his child at school, but only as they relate to his abilities, interests, and limitations. Studies show that the home is the major source of self image in the child; thus, parents must not convey, whether consciously or unconsciously, a comparison of the child with his siblings or peers.
Caution #4. Avoid teaching your child to be more concerned about outward appearance than inward character.
Unfortunately, many Christians have learned how to maintain an exterior which camouflages the real self Often, Christians have a way of categorizing and labeling people based on what they see while the Bible teaches that God looks on the heart. True conformity to the principles of God must come from the inside and not the outside. Not only is it the parent's responsibility,
responsibility to teach children to be genuine for God, it is their duty to demonstrate these principles in their own lives--for in the home the facade of outward conformity is quickly peeled away. Your child must be taught the importance of motives and attitudes as well as actions.
Obviously, no better example of the perfect parent-child relationship can be found than that of God and His children. In love He molds children into the individuals He intended for them to be. When they stumble and fall, He is there to pick them up; however in His wisdom he allows His children to suffer the consequences of their decisions. God lovingly and patiently guides each of His children through the maturing process of growing in Christ. Should Christian parents do any less for their children? Certainly not.