God's attitude towards children

  1. God is the source of children. (Genesis 4:1,25; Genesis 16:9-12; Genesis 17:16,20; Genesis 29:31-35; Genesis 33:5; Genesis 48:9; Ruth 4:13; 1 Samuel 1:19)
    Children are a heritage and reward from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3)
  2. Children are a source of joy. (Psalm 113:9; Psalm 127:4-5; Proverbs 23:24,25)

The submission of parents

Parents give an example and guide their children by providing a loving environment of discipline. In doing this, however, they must be careful not to provoke their children to anger. (Ephesians 6:4) Such behaviour only leads to irritation, friction and rebellion from children. So, parents should try to avoid:

  • Overprotection. This happens if parents give no opportunity for their children gradually to develop independence.
  • Favouritism. This happens when one child is preferred over another. (See Genesis 25:28.) Don't compare your children to one another.
  • Strongly pushing achievement. Many parents push a child hard in order to fulfil goals which they never accomplished themselves.
  • Discouragement. Children need approval, rewards and respect when they succeed. When they fail, point out their good points and encourage them in the right direction.
  • Neglect. Children need to know that they are wanted and appreciated, so parents should show and tell them. David neglected Absalom and the result was catastrophic. Parents should not be too busy for their children.
  • Bitter words and cruel punishment. Parents must be careful that they don't take their anger out on their children.
  • Discipline without instruction. Children grow angry when they are disciplined or corrected without knowing why.

Positive reinforcement

On the positive side, parents should aim to raise their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4 - Authorised King James Version)

"Nurture" means training, learning or discipline. There must be rules and boundaries that are enforced with rewards or punishments. The people of Israel in Old Testament times believed in the use of appropriate, physical punishment. (See Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 9:15-17.) Christian parents today may look for alternative means of reinforcing boundaries, but the principles remain the same: before administering any punishment, make sure that the rule that was broken was clearly stated beforehand to the child and understood. Never give out a punishment when you're angry yourself. Afterwards, it's important for reconciliation to take place. Reassure your child that you still love him or her and work out together how a different course of action or behaviour in future might avoid any rule being broken.

"Admonition" refers to counsel or verbal instruction with a view to learning how to behave well. Never use negative words with anger in your voice as this can do far more harm than a smack. Words like "stupid", "no good", "useless" or "little horror" do a lot of long-term harm. The Bible says that words and language can have a powerful effect on people and we need to be positive in what we say. (See Proverbs 15:4; Proverbs 16:24 and Proverbs 18:4.) We need to speak words of faith over our children and talk about them as God does. He can see their good and potential and He is doing everything in His power to bring His plan for their life to pass. As parents, we must make sure that we are working with Him and not against Him.