I begin this article without having picked a picture above. I browsed the database of "parenting" and "family" pictures. Most of them have a sunny glow as the silhouetted mother and father skip along hand in hand with their adoring children. An aura of peaceful joy pervades as they gaze lovingly into one another's eyes.
But that just seems a little too perfect for an article on parenting.
Let's face it: Parenting is difficult. Sure, there is love and laughter. There are moments that will be etched upon the heart as golden memories. But there are also a lot of tears, heartbreak, and tough decisions that have to be made along the way.
Why is that? It is because children arrive pre-programed. The factory setting, so to speak, is folly.
This is where Christian parenting begins: knowing the child's true nature and understanding the state of their hearts. Scripture tells us that man is conceived and born in sin (Ps. 51:5). Children are sinners by nature because they have inherited Adam's corruption (Rom. 5:19). As a result, they sin and have a propensity towards all kinds of foolish behavior.
This is what sets Christian parenting apart from most of the world. The prevailing belief is that man is "basically good." This leads to a certain style of parenting (or lack thereof!). They may call it "permissive" parenting or give it more fancy lingo (such as "montessori"). But the idea is that kids don't need a lot of discipline, teaching, or expressed parental intervention.
In the worlds eyes, parents are merely providers of basic necessities - clothes, food, shelter, toys. At best, they provide an environment for the child's success. On the other hand, there are those, like Rousseau and Marx, who believe parents to be a serious detriment to a child's overall personal development!
The Scriptural view is much different. Children have a serious innate problem. They are by foolish by nature. Selfishness, impatience, laziness, discontent, and conceit are riveted into the very fabric of who they are. Thus, they instinctively desire to lie, resist authority, cheat, quarrel, and pursue every other form of folly.
This is why they need wise and godly parents. Parents are God's main tool for ministering to these inward defects. Through a parent's ministry a child comes face to face with God and His interests. The fundamental problems etched upon their souls are engaged and given right direction.
To be sure, parents do not change the heart. This is God's domain of operation. This is why some children may follow in the steps of Esau.
Nevertheless, mothers, fathers, grandfathers, & grandmothers are God's agents in dealing with the heart. Through you folly is addressed, correction is applied, and instruction is given. Through you God chooses to do His normal work of bringing about change. Through you the folly in their hearts can be dislodged and driven far from them.
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A Reformed and family integrated Church in Ashland, Ohio.
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