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Copyright for the journal © 2005
M. S. Thirumalai
RAISING UP DADS, BRINGING UP CHILDREN
SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS USING TOUGH RULES?
My Dad thought that all problems in the home could be solved by tough
rules, strict enforcement, and heavy punishment. What a difference it
would have made if he had blended into his formula a little more love,
understanding, trust, and communication.
Mom knew that Dad was too strict, but she couldn't do much about it. To ease the pain, she often reminded us that it was better to have a dad who was too strict than one who didn't care what his kids did or what happened to them.
AN EFFECTIVE FATHER
I had to admit that she was right, but, truth is, neither makes an effective
father. An overly strict dad may win his children's obedience and a lenient
one may gain their affection, but over the long haul, neither wins respect
and neither contributes toward well-adjusted kids.
Worse, though, than fathers who remain at either extreme are those who oscillate between the two - strict today, soft tomorrow - or those who show favoritism or are unfair. It's no wonder kids rebel; they don't know where they stand or where their parents stand and it seems like their parents don't even notice or care!
SPEND TIME IN SCRIPTURE AND PRAYER
We parents need to spend time in Scripture and prayer, seeking wisdom
to maintain order and balance in our homes. Three verses stand out in
my mind for dads:
Prov 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Eph 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
1 Tim 3:4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.
These are not "how-to" verses, rather they challenge us to a standard and require us to seek solutions to the situations we face. They present a combination of discipline, patience, wisdom, training, godliness, and home management.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO RAISE CHILDREN?
What does it mean to raise children according to biblical standards?
An encyclopedia could be written about that, but - although I'm obviously
oversimplifying - I think a case can be made for a pattern that moves
from strictness toward more leniency as maturity is reached.
First, we should teach small children what they are
allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do. They are too young
to understand the reason for each requirement, so we waste our breath
and their time with lengthy explanations that only confuse them. But they
can know what yes and no mean. To make it clear, the Bible recommends
spanking - (even in 1994).
Second, when they are able to understand, we tell them
yes or not and why. At this stage it is not enough to insist, "Because
I said do." We must explain God's standards, what God himself is like
in regard to the issue at hand, why something is right or wrong, and what
are the rewards or consequences of following one path or another.
Third, when they reach their late teens, we should help
them understand the issues at hand and, in many cases, let them decide
for themselves. That's scary and you have to know when they're ready for
it, but if you have prepared them, they will usually respond to the opportunity
to show that they are worthy of your trust. Their desire for increasing
independence is probably not so much a sign of rebellion as it is a desire
to grow up and develop. If we fail to recognize that, we may prolong their
Fourth, we need to do everything possible to win them
to faith in Christ. Yes, our children must be won. We can teach them biblical
values… Impose standards of behavior… Set a godly example…, but the choice
to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord must be made by them. We can't
do it for them. We can't coerce them into it. And we can't condemn them
or reject them if they don't receive Christ.
THE ROLE OF LAW AND FEAR OF PUNISHMENT
If Jesus is willing to stand at their heart's door and knock, who are we to try to kick the door down? Whether or not our children open their hearts to Jesus, we cannot and must not close our hearts or homes to them. I have always prayed that the Holy Spirit would draw our children to Jesus and that their hearts would be inclined to follow Him. He has drawn; they have followed.
Law and fear of punishment may change behavior, but they will not change the heart. The law was never meant to save us, purify us, or empower us. The law was meant to guide us in our moral decisions, and show us our need of Jesus Christ whose grace alone can enable us to fulfill the law's demands.
That's true with nurturing children and new Christians as well.
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NO MORE SPECTATORS: The 8 Life-Changing Values of Disciple Makers, by Mark Nysewander, A Brief Review | SHINING BRIGHTLY FOR CHRIST - ON THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS, PART II? | RAISING UP DADS, BRINGING UP CHILDREN | FAITH IN GOD | THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS : THE HUMILITY OF CHRIST | GUARDED BY GOD | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
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