Someone said: “Children would all be brought up perfectly if families would just swap kids. Everyone knows what ought to be done with the neighbor’s kids.” How true! I tried to Google “how to raise kids” and there were more rules and principles on the subject than I have time to read in this lifetime. Who are these experts? How do we know if their lists even worked for them?

My wife and I are no experts either but early on we made it a habit to observe godly parents. By “godly” we do not mean people who walk around pretending to be “holier than thou.” Neither do we mean those who claim to have made no mistakes in raising kids. That would be a lie. Instead “godly parents” are those who have tried to raise their children according to biblical values. This is what we have learned from them.

  1. They believe in the power of prayer. Daily they spread the net of prayer around their children. They begin by asking God for wisdom, strength, patience, grace, and self-control. But they don’t stop there. They even pray for their future decisions about friends, career choices, and marriage. No hole is left open for the enemy to creep in and tear down their children.
  2. They believe in the importance of discipline. Godly parents understand that letting children do as they please is like letting your garden tend to itself. It will be a jungle. They discipline their children because they care about them. This is not to be confused with punishment. While punishment comes with anger and frustration, discipline is full of love and promotes growth in the future.
  3. They cultivate an environment of grace. Children will fail and make mistakes. It is part of growing up. Godly parents know that the home is the safest place to fall and get back up. They do everything possible to communicate unconditional love to their children. No “root of bitterness” is allowed to spring up and destroy lives. One can often hear laughter coming from these homes.
  4. They practice what they preach. As Emerson said: “What you do speaks so loud, that I cannot hear what you say.” Most children are getting mixed messages growing up. They are told to be truthful but they often hear their parents lying. They are punished for using foul language but hear their parents cussing. They are dropped off at church as their parents drive off to go shopping. Godly parents know that parenting is not for hypocrites. It is a 24 hour a day lifestyle.
  5. They know the value of their presence. Some parents are trying to give their kids the latest and the best. Others seem to be running a taxi service shuttling their kids from one practice to the next. Godly parents know that kids want their mom and dad more than things and activities. As these kids watch their parents in love, going out on weekly dates, their hearts are satisfied and secure.
  6. They know how to switch gears as their children grow up. Godly parents understand that we never stop being there for our children but they also recognize that there are different stages in their life cycle. Treating a teenager as a toddler can only breed resentment. Talking to a thirty year old as if he/she was only thirteen destroys many relationships.

This list is not to judge your parents or blame them for not doing it right. Instead, thank them for doing the best they knew under the circumstances. Ephesians 6:2-3 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

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