Responsible Parenting

Parenting is simultaneously a joyful and overwhelming task. The responsible parent will regularly feel a sense of contentment and the fear of inadequacy. One question at the root of many of our thoughts is, “how do you know if you are parenting well?”

There are many principles and applications to consider as we think through a good answer to this question, but I’d like to keep things simple and basic in this post. One Bible passage that speaks directly to children and parents is Ephesians 6:1–4. Let’s read it here, and then let’s note a couple of things.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

This passage emphasizes at least a couple of things.

One “the Lord” is the foundation of parental authority, and this is closely tied to the reality that children are indeed a blessing from God (Ps. 127:3). We all want to praise and thank God for His good gift of children and the opportunity He has given us to parent them. Also, remembering that parental authority comes from God will help us make good use of our fatherly or motherly authority without being too soft or too hard.

The second thing we can notice in the passage is that parental authority comes with a divine command and responsibility. Especially addressing fathers, the Scripture clearly places the responsibility to discipline children (that is to teach and to train them) according to the instruction of the Lord. God gives fathers and mothers the authority to teach and train their children, and He gives them the responsibility to do so as well.

What a sobering and humbling thought!

God has entrusted these little ones to the care of their father and mother. Moms, God has given you an allotted time to cherish and nourish the tiny one you hold (who may or may not be so tiny anymore). Dads, God has given you an allotted time to cultivate and develop the child He has placed in your care.

May God help us all, as God’s stewards, to love and lead our children well.

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