The Bible tells parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” in Proverbs 22:6. What does it mean to “train up your children?” Does it simply mean to discipline your children, or is it more than that?
Raising godly children is a bit more complicated than disciplining them. Parents are called to love their children, listen to them, show them right and wrong, and lead them in their walk with Christ by example. Christian parents must therefore raise their children by doing the following:
1) Lead by example
The strongest way parents can keep God’s word is by leading their children by example. It is a well-known fact that children learn through observation of others, and most of the time, their parents. Your children will learn what you model for them. Therefore, for your children to have a strong relationship with God, you need to also have a strong relationship with God.
2) Show them critical thinking skills
One of the best ways to train your children for the world is to teach them critical thinking skills. We as Christians are meant to meditate on scripture, seek truth, and love. These are the values and actions we must teach our children so they will be equipped for the world. We will do this by taking time to study the scripture together, have conversations with them about right and wrong, and allow them to think for themselves. To have these conversations, there has to be an established trust between you and your child. Trust by our children comes hand in hand with our unconditional love for them.
3) Teach them how to love by loving them unconditionally
When it comes to loving our children, we should love them unconditionally as God loves us unconditionally. This implies our loving our children with no strings attached. There is nothing they can do to lose your love. This doesn’t mean you do not discipline your child, but it does mean you do not withhold your love because of something they did or said. When your child knows you have this unconditional love for them, it forges a trust between you and them. That trust allows you to have a good relationship with your kids and allows them to feel safe and loved in your household.
4) Help them serve others
To raise your children in a godly way includes helping them serve others. In Matthew 5:42, the Bible calls us to, “Give to those who ask of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” We are also called to care for the poor, sick, and needy, not sit at home away from the masses. These are the values and principles that need to be passed on to our children. Take your child to serving opportunities like feeding the poor, cleaning up after a function, or even helping your neighbour with a task. This helps your children learn how Jesus lived, and the importance of helping others.
5) Share your faith with them through scripture
Studying the scripture with your children helps them know what the story of Jesus is, how much God loves us, and how to live our lives. Reading the scripture with your child gives them access to it. Sharing Bible stories with your kids can help guide them as they age. As Psalm 119:11 says, “I have treasured Your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against You.”
6) Pray with them
Teach your children how to pray by praying with them. Sit down with them every day, and pray with them about their lives and your loved ones’ lives. Pray for favour over them in their lives, and that God will show His love to your children every day. Including your children in these prayers can help them learn about God’s nature.
7) Allow them to have their faith
If you want your children to have a strong faith in God, you have to let them grow it themselves. Let them ask questions and make the decision to follow Christ by themselves. It is not a decision to be made lightly and has to be done willingly. The best we can do as parents is to show them what a good relationship with Christ looks like. Love them through their doubts.
Every person experiences insecurity in their walk with Christ. It is a normal part of the Christian life. Your job as a parent is to love your child even when they are amid these doubts. Don’t be upset if they are expressing their doubts to you about their faith. Talk to them in love to help them work through these doubts. Then let them come to their own conclusions. No one has ever been strong-armed into an authentic relationship with Christ.
Parents, love your children by modelling what is right and wrong, listening to them, disciplining them, and showing them how to serve others.