A Recipe For Successful Parenting
by John Hamby
I made a startling discovery soon after our child was born, they do not come with an instruction manual. The way that we dealt with this emergency was to call our moms, with questions that went something like this, “Mom she doing so and so, is she suppose to do that?
Most parents feel a little like the story I heard about a young student of child behavior who frequently delivered a lecture called “Ten Commandments for Parents.” He married and became a father. The title of the lecture was altered to “Ten Hints for Parents.” Another child arrived. The lecture became ‘Some Suggestions for Parents.” A third child was born. The lecturer – so the story goes – stopped lecturing. [Paul Lee Tan. Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations. (Rockville: Maryland: Assurance Pub., 1979. # 635] The truth is that we never have more opinions about child rearing than when we do not have any ourselves. We say things like, “MY, children will never do that!” Those words can sure come back to haunt you.
Mark Twain, the humorist, had these words of advise on raising children. He said, “When they become teenagers put them in a barrel and fed them through the knot hole. When they turn sixteen stop up the knot hole!”
Two children were heard discussing their parents. The first said, “I’m really worried. Dad slaves away at his job so that I have everything I need, so I’ll be able to go to college some day. Mom works hard washing and ironing, cleaning up after me, taking care of me when I am sick, driving me everywhere I want to go. They spend every day of their lives working for me. But I’m worried.” His friend asked, “What have you got to worry about?’ The first little guy replied, “I’m afraid they’re going to try to escape some day.”
James Dobson in his book “The Strong Willed Child” said, “ Child rearing is like baking a cake. You don’t realize you have a disaster until its too late.” But success in both child rearing and cake baking is best achieved by following the recipe, so this morning I would like to offer you “A Recipe for Success for Parenting.
The first Ingredient in our Recipe for Successful Parenting is the Recognition that Your Child is a Gift from God. If we are going to survive the challenges of parenting, we must remember that your child is a gift from God. Psalm 127:3-5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (4) Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. (5) Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; …”. (NKJV)
If you want to survive parenthood remember that your child or children are worth the struggle and are a gift from God even if they sometimes act like the devil.
The Second Ingredient of our Recipe for Successful Parenting is Unconditional love. Deal with your child as God, your heavenly father, deals with you, that is with patience, grace and unconditional love. Never allow your child to think that your love is conditional to his behavior.
The Third Ingredient of our Recipe for Successful Parenting is Recognize and Work with our Childs Natural Bents.
If you want to survive parenting we absolutely must realize we have a duty to “train up our children.” There is nothing anymore challenging or rewarding than the privilege and responsibility given by God to parents to raise their children. Scripture says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV) Training children in the way they should go has always been a huge and vital task in every generation because of all this is involved in the process, however, there has never been a time when the challenges were greater than now.
Sometime this verse is taken as a guarantee that if we are good parents we will always produce good children. That is not what this verse says. So what does it say? Well I am glad you asked! A paraphrase might read something like this, “Adapt the training of your child so that it is in keeping with his God-given characteristics and tendencies; when he comes to maturity, he will not depart from the training he has received.”
Every child has natural bents both good and bad, these are the basic tendencies unique to this child. You might be surprise to learn that the root word of “train up” in the Hebrew is a word used to describe the palate or the roof of the mouth. It was used to describe the actions of a Hebrew mid-wife who after helping to deliver a baby would dip her finger in a paste made of dates and rub it on the gums of the new baby to create thirst and start the baby’s feeding instinct. (Charles Swindoll. You and Your Child. ( Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1977)
The parent is in like manner to create a thirst in their child for the right things. What is your favorite food, my guess would be that it is what you grew up enjoying. The Christian parents job is to create such a thirst in our children for the things of God. Deut. 6:5-7 says , “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (6) And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. (7) You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (NKJV)
The Fourth Ingredient of our Recipe for Successful Parenting is Consistent Discipline. Perhaps the greatest responsibility we are given is to discipline our children. We are reminded in the book of Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” And again in verse 17, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” (NKJV) These Proverbs clearly remind us that godly discipline of children will bring delight and rest to your soul, but failure to do so will bring shame and heartache.
Some years ago the city of Houston Texas waged an ad campaign to deter juvenile crime, the Houston Police Depart-ment came up with “Twelve Rules for Raising Juvenile Delinquent Children.”
1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think that it is cute.
3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let him “decide for himself.’
4. Avoid use of the word “wrong.” It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.
6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful, that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.
7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they won’t be shocked when the home is broken up later.
8. Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own.
9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified.
10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him.
12. Prepare for a life of grief. You will likely have it. [Quoted by Charles Swindoll. You and Your Child. (Nashville, Nelson Pub., 1977) pp. 63-64.]
Ephesians 6:4 has two words which describe the responsibilities and methods that we are to use in child rearing.
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (NKJV).
The first word translated, “training” (paideia) it is the word we get pedagogy from. It can refer to discipline but normally contains the broader meaning of education , the entire training particularly of the very young.
The second word, “admonition” (nouthesia) comes from the combination of two Greek words one meaning “mind” and the other “to place” and involves the idea of reasoning and gentle or friendly reproof. It is more appropriate to the child as he gets older when they can have a better understanding of the spiritual and moral issues of their own behavior.
We must recognize the necessity of discipline. Five simple reminders about discipline:
1. Never discipline in anger.
2. Pick your battles, not everything is worthy of a battle.
3. Realize that even children need to express anger from time to time.
4. Choose the best time and place to discipline. Never discipline in anger. Always discipline in private.
5. Choose your words carefully and speak in a soft tone of voice.
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (NKJV) Discipline of course, means conflict and far to often parents attempt to resolve conflict with a yelling session with their children. This does no good and may do a lot of harm.
The Fifth Ingredient of our Recipe for Successful Parenting is Be willing to admit when you are wrong.
Every parent is also a human and all humans make mistakes. When you make a mistake with your children admit it. It may come as a shock to you but, your children all ready know that you are not perfect, seeing and hearing you admit your mistakes will make it easier for them to recognize and admit their own mistakes in life.
You may be thinking well my children are all grown. Then invest your wisdom and experience in a young couple with children. Be a mentor. And if you have the privilege of grandchildren be a godly influence in their lives.
The idea that good parents always produce good children and bad parents always produce bad children is just not true. We all know families were the parents were a walking disaster, yet their children turned out to be very decent people, good citizens and responsible adults. By the same token we’ve all seen godly parents who sought to raise their children up to know the Lord, yet one or more or those children ended up in serious trouble.
Scripture give us governing principles for training our children, not guarantees. Parents who apply these principles are far more likely to produce godly children than those who do not. The bottom line is to know God’s word, use it, trust it, pray consistently for your ability as a parent and for your children, love them deeply, take nothing for granted and cling to the Lord.