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Four Rs for Christian Parenting
Parents have often wished: "It would be great if children came with an instruction book, so we would always know what to do and say while raising them! If only we had a clear set of parental directions—ones we could rely on and refer to as we make the myriad of child-rearing decisions each day. And it would help if they were easy to remember!"
To answer that wish, I offer "four R's for Christian parenting" as a base, a compass, a guide for all those decisions. The four R's are four key characteristics parents want their children to develop:
REDEEMED: Trust they are forgiven
RESPECTFUL: Treat others with love
RESPONSIBLE: Take ownership of their actions
RESOURCEFUL: Think of ways to get things done
When faced with a parental decision on what to do or say, the answer will be to do or say that which best helps your child be respectful, responsible, or resourceful, all the while being assured that he or she is a redeemed child of God. Reminding our children of these key characteristics will give the proper foundation to all we are trying to teach. Let's take a closer look.
Both parents and children are sinful. We will make mistakes. Our actions and words will be hurtful instead of helpful. Rules will be broken. Sin still calls for repentance. Discipline, correction, and consequences will be needed. But in every situation, all involved are still also REDEEMED.
While Satan, the roaring lion, will do all he can to make both parents and children feel they are guilty, unlovable, and unforgiveable, our God still loves us and has forgiven us. That unconditional love and forgiveness we receive from God is the same love and forgiveness we offer to our children. As a matter of fact, forgiving our children when they are rebellious and sinful truly helps us understand the tremendous love and forgiveness of God for us.
What a privilege it is as a Christian parent to reflect the love of God by continually assuring our children that they are redeemed children of God!
Some suggestions for keeping the first R—Redeemed—in your family.
- Demonstrate true joy and thankfulness in being forgiven.
- Have regular family devotions.
- Pray continually with and for your children.
- Model forgiveness as husband and wife.
- Conclude all discipline with an assurance of God's and your forgiveness.
We are raising children in a society in which people often fail to show respect for one another. Our Christian homes need to be models of respect. It all starts with the modeling done by parents. Husbands and wives need to respect one another and their parents, the children's grandparents. Parents need to treat their children in a respectful manner, treating them as valued members of the family and listening to them.
Discipline needs to be carried out in a respectful manner. Parents need to emphasize the what, where, and when of the misbehavior instead of spending vast amounts of time getting to the why of the behavior. Parents need to help the child change the behavior, not intimidate him or her into doing so. Parents need to provide structure in a child's life.
This article came for Northwestern Publishing House's Parents Crosslink, a quarterly publication designed to strengthen and encourage Christian parents.