The Word of God informs us, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). As parents, some days it certainly may not feel like having children is very rewarding; probably, if we’re honest, we can look back on our own childhood, remembering the dumb things that we did, too. Unfortunately, part of our human nature is that we are born not knowing everything—meaning, we need to be taught and guided. However, we were created with intellect and reason—some more than others. But this is where the importance of parenting comes to fruition.
One of my greatest rewards in life is being a dad, three times, to all girls. I can remember the doctor once saying, “Some guys have the football team, and some have the cheerleading squad; you have the cheerleading squad.” That’s just wonderful to me because I often think that the Lord blessed me with not having a boy like me. All kidding aside, my older daughters are now in college, through the stages of teenage peer pressure, high school, and falling prey to the newest trend and fashion their friend’s parents can buy. But one thing is a reward—their faith.
Setting the Example
Throughout their entire school life, elementary through High School, each day began with breakfast, prayer, and the Bible around the table. We prayed through each other’s problems, and life dilemmas. Most of the time, their prayers were about tests, soccer games, classes, or growing up. But we dove into the Scriptures and tried to apply them to life—even if they were zoned out and thinking of something else. The important part is that parenting takes bold courage, it takes patience, and love. Sometimes being a parent means that I need to allow my children to fail, but (and) when they fail, the boundaries stay the same. As parents, and believers in Christ, our job just became a little more difficult and challenging because now we are raising up the next generation.
Discipline is Love
The challenge is to remain focused in our protection of them and their behavior, but the difficult part is when, as teenagers, they perceive that your every move and decision is based upon hate. More than likely, if you hear the words, “I hate you,” from your teenager, you’re probably doing something right. Love is discipline. Many times I had to take my children to Hebrews 12, and show them that discipline is love, that if I didn’t care I’d let them do whatever they wanted. Once, when the two got into trouble, I explained how they were to live according to godly principles and why we have boundaries. The oldest quipped, “I just want to be a normal teenager!” But the problem is, I stated, is that God won’t allow any of us, who are dedicated to Him, to follow after the world—He wants all of us, He loves us too much.
The understanding of God’s love is that God’s wrath is not punishment upon those living in the world, as a matter of fact it’s the other way around; if God’s wrath is upon you, He has given you up to an abased mind (Rom. 1)—that’s a scary thought. If He loves you then He disciplines you, as children. Kids need structure, they need discipline, and they need to have both of these rooted in love.
Children also must have encouragement. Paul reminds fathers “not to provoke your children lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:21). It’s easy to bruise and damage a child’s psyche by using hurtful words. Telling children they are worthless is sinful—it is labeling them as a fool (Matt 5:22). That is separated from telling them they should steer clear of worthless activities. Young children need to be showered with love, protection, and guidance. Remember, children care and watch more of what you do than what you say. Godly parenting knows how to build up and how to discipline, with love. With those applied, the rewards are reaped later in life.