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The opportunities of life are incidental but parenting that is effective must be intentional.
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A Biblical Theology of Parenting (IV)
( Features of Christian Parenting )
Feb 1998 Alan S.L. Wong
Revised Apr 2006

A Biblical Theology of Parenting (IV)

Our relationship with our children cannot be separated from our relationship with our Heavenly Father. If we are to teach obedience then we must be obedient! As we get close to the Father, we learn of His ways and draw upon His love and patience to bring up our children.

As Christian parents, we are to demonstrate in our own behaviour what we want our children to adopt. We simply cannot impart truth that is not first made real in our own lives. Modelling is one of the features of Christian parenting.

Features of Christian Parenting

  1. Modelling: Parents are to model obedience to God's Word.

    We are to demonstrate in our own behaviour what we want our children to adopt. We simply cannot impart truth that is not first made real in our own lives.

    1. Parents may teach principles of right conduct but if our own behaviour is contrary to these principles then it would be difficult to correct our children when they violate these principles.

    2. To enforce consequences for non-compliance or violation is to condemn ourselves!

    3. Parents can demand obedience from their young children. But as children grow older, they will not accept instruction from parents for whom they have no respect. Respect must be earned through a worthy character (1 Thess. 2:10-11).


  2. Teaching: Parents are to teach God's Word to our children.

    According to Moses, parents have the responsibility to teach their children God's commandments (including the great and foremost commandment to love the LORD with all our heart, soul and strength).

    How then should we teach the Word of God?


    1. Diligently

      Impress them (the commandments) on the children ... make it memorable ... stress its importance to living

    2. At all times

      Moses used two opposite extremes to signify the whole of time

         •   When you sit at home ~ when you walk along the way
         •   When you lie down ~ when you get up

      He was saying that there is never a time when our teaching ceases ... there must be a consciousness and alertness to seize upon opportunities to teach. The opportunities of life are incidental but parenting that is effective must be intentional. In this area of teaching at all times (24/7), stay-at-home mothers have an advantage because they are usually there with their children when opportunities arise.

      However, opportunities to teach do not always present themselves or when they do, we may not be with our children to seize them. Therefore, seizing casual opportunities to teach cannot preclude planned times of teaching. How do we have planned times of teaching (of God's Word) in the casual setting of the home?

    3. Use reminders, rituals and stories

      In their teaching, the Israelites made use of ...

      1. Reminders

        Scriptures were carved onto door frames and gates of their houses as reminders (Deut. 6:8-9,12).

      2. Rituals and stories

        Significant events in their history were commemorated through rituals and festivals (Deut. 6:20-25 c.f., Exo. 13:3, 6-10, 11-16) which in turn prompted questions from their children and hence opportunities to recall God's works.

        But many of us in Singapore are first-generation Christians and it is up to us to create and pass down a rich heritage of traditions that will help future generations treasure God's Word. What are some traditions that you would like to pass down?

        Then, there is always the possibility that traditions may degenerate into outward forms without inward reality. How do we communicate the reality and vitality of the living God?

Start Right and You Will End Right

Proverbs 22:6 states "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it."

  1. The word "train" means "inaugurate" or "start".

  2. The phrase "in the way he should go" had been interpreted in various ways.

       •   according to a child's bent (leaning) which is already established
       •   according to his developmental level

    But it is best interpreted as "in the way of wisdom." (c.f., Prov. 4:11).
In other words, Proverbs 22:6 states that if we start a young child on the right road, he will probably not leave it even when he is older.

This is not a promise but a general principle. It is often true, children reflect their upbringing but there are exceptions. Children from Christian homes do go bad. There is no guarantee in parenting ... that if we do this, then that is how the child will turn out. There are many factors in the growth and development of a child. A child may choose to go his own way independent of God.

Nevertheless Prov 22:6 and 19:18 strongly encourage us to lay a strong foundation while our children are young. We have only one chance to raise our children!