SOURCE: Barry Gilreath, Jr., in Power, 4/1995
Misconceptions of Godly Parenting
by Barry Gilreath, Jr.
One of the wisest men ever to live once wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). But it is the training that we as parents so often struggle with. We are so bombarded by humanistic, worldly, parenting philosophies that many Christian parents are confused about how to bring their children up in the love and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). And just as misconceptions have arisen in the denominational world concerning the Lord’s church, I’m afraid that some misconceptions of godly parenting have today arisen in the body of Christ. I believe this is evidenced by a significant number of teenagers who seem to be apathetic toward God and his church.
I suppose I grew up in a wonderful congregation as a teenager. The young people loved to be together in both the spiritual and social setting. I thank God for other congregations that have achieved this through godly parenting. But sadly, every congregation can not glory in their youth. How tragic for parents to bring a bundle of joy into this world with the potential of accomplishing many great tasks for the Lord, only slowly to watch them grow cold and apathetic toward God and the church in their teen years. Surely there are numerous parents down through the years who, if they had another opportunity, would “train up” their children differently than they did.
I would like to suggest five misconceptions of parenting that have wrongly influenced some of our children and prompted them to grow up unfaithful.
1. Because I’m a Christian my children will become Christians.
Although you may have become a Christian years ago, just because you made this decision does not guarantee your children will do likewise. Samuel’s sons did not follow after their father’s ways but took bribes and perverted judgment (1 Samuel 8:3). Apparently Samuel was so busy doing the Lord’s work that he neglected to correct the faults of his children. Parents must sometimes reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering.
2. My faithfulness will not influence my children’s faithfulness.
The faithfulness of both parents is vital to the upbringing of your children. Faithfulness is not merely attending services but is also becoming actively involved. A survey several years ago showed that 93% of kids remained faithful where both parents were actively involved. However only 6% of kids remained faithful where the parents attended infrequently and were not involved at all in the local work.
3. My children will naturally show respect and give authority to those in positions of leadership.
I have personally seen homes where no respect and authority were given to the parents of that home and children were not even slightly corrected for their actions. I have also observed the type of young adults this type of home has produced. Children who aren’t taught to respect Christ’s authority in the church. As parents we must be conscious of the respect our children give others. Their actions will reflect the type of training they are getting in the home.
4. Forcing my children to come to the worship services and other youth activities will cause them to rebel and later leave the church.
This is certainly a common misconception that is heard from time to time. One man once said to me, “You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” By this he was attempting to justify letting his children decide how often they would attend services, and to what degree they would be involved with other teenage Christians. However, even though it is true that one can’t make a horse drink, it is equally true that a horse can not drink unless they are taken to the river bank. Sadly, some parents do not require their children to go to the “river bank,” and therefore many never drink!
5. If my children become Christians it will be solely through the encouragement of the elders, preacher, and teenage peers.
I’m so thankful for my parents who discussed with me the need of obeying the gospel. Although the elders, preacher, and my fellow peers surely influenced me into making this decision, it was the persistent encouragement of my parents that gave me the courage to respond. The age of accountablity is certainly different with each child. But by the time a teenager reaches the mid-teens that young person has probably reached that age. As a parent I shouldn’t expect my child to become a Christian if I myself do not encourage them to do so, and do not let them see how important Christianity is in my own life.
Godly parenting takes strength, determination, and persistence. it takes love, authority, and consistency. it takes patience, endurance, and prayer. But for those parents who have labored for years and can now see their children active and faithful members in the Lord’s church, it was all worth the effort. may God help us as parents to raise our children in the love an admonition of the Lord.
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