Scripture tells us a lot about parenting. Some parts of scripture compare God to a good parent and describe those attributes. Some parts give warnings about what not to do as a parent. Other parts of scripture teach us how we ought to interact with everyone including our children.
1. We ought to be like God who is compared to a good parent because He is compassionate.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13.
2. We ought to set an example and foundation of faith for our children as Timothy’s mother and grandmother did for him.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
3. It is unwise to leave a child to train themselves.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15
4. We ought to teach our children that discipline (God’s and a parents’) is unpleasant but is for their benefit.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:5-11
5. We ought to teach our children that it is God’s desire that children should not be lost or go to hell.
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:12-14
6 & 7. We ought to teach our children that it’s God’s desire that they should walk with Him.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10.
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14.
8. We should be always ready to accept them back if they have strayed or rebelled and return in repentance.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:11-32.
9. We should encourage our children to learn and follow scripture.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3
10. We should use scripture as a character building tool in our children’s lives.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness… 2 Timothy 3:16
11 & 12. We ought not to embitter our children. Being harsh or unfair are just a few examples of how we could embitter them.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:21.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4.
13. We should encourage our children to choose wisdom.
A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent. Proverbs 15:5
14. We can use corporal punishment, but it is not commanded (proverbs, by their definition, are not commands or promises). Care must be taken not to violate other verses when choosing this method. Some children might not need it, depending on personality.
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24.
15. We should remember that Christians are commanded to be kind to everyone, including our own children.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32.
16. We should remember not to train children to make ourselves look better.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
17. We need to remember not to sin against our child because we are angry. It’s possible to discipline the child in anger and be in the wrong. A child who loves Jesus is the goal, not merely a child who makes the parent look good.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Ephesians 4:26
18. We should take comfort in the idea that children who are trained in the Lord generally grow up to walk with Him. This is a proverb, not a promise. I know parents who have walked away from the faith over this verse because they believed God did not keep His promises when their child rejected the faith.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
19. We should remember that a trained child will generally bring his parents peace and delight.
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. Proverbs 29:17
20. We should remember that God had a plan for this child long before we knew that we would have a child.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
21. We need to understand that there will parts of God’s plan for our children’s lives that we will not understand.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
22. We need to not question God’s plan for our children.
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? Romans 9:20-21
God’s plan for us often includes our children changing, challenging, and growing us. Don’t underestimate what God is doing in your life through your children! I didn’t know I was selfish or short-tempered before I had children, and I have certainly been challenged and developed character as a result of these children that God gave me.