The Duty of Parenting
Is it enough to simply love your child?
Having been involved in Children’s ministry for more than 20 years, I have come to realize that the vast majority of parents have a deep and sincere love for their children. They demonstrate this love by making sure that their children are well taken care of; they feed them, they provide shelter for them, they put clothes on them, they make sure that they get a good education, etc., etc., etc. The list is long and extensive!
It is the chief mistake of most parents, however, to base the effectiveness of their parenting on the deep and sincere love that they have for their children. They reason that because they love their child so deeply and so sincerely, that this somehow automatically thrusts them into the coveted status of being “a good parent.”
So the question must be asked – is it enough to simply love your child? Is this all that the Word of God calls parents to do or is there something more to parenting biblically?
The Scriptures offer much guidance in regards to these questions. They help us to know that simply loving our children is not enough; that love must move us to teach and train our children the truths of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 22:6). Biblical parenting, and hence effective parenting, is founded on the charge found in Ephesians 6:4 whereby we are told to bring up our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
According to H. Clay Trumbull, “It is a parent’s privilege, and it is a parent’s duty, to make his children, by God’s blessing, to be and to do what they should be and do, rather than what they would like to be and do” (Hints on Child Training, p. 6).
Our love for our children must move us to do that which is truly best for them. As parents, we know all too well that our children do not always do that which is best for them, thus it is our duty to train them in the way that is best for them – the way that leads them to the pierced feet and hands of Jesus Christ.
It’s important to note that:
Child training does not change a child’s nature, but it does change his modes of giving expression to his nature. Child training does not give a child entirely new characteristics, but it brings him to the repression and subduing of certain characteristics, and to the expression and development of certain others, to such an extent that the sum of his characteristics presents an aspect so different from its original exhibit that it seems like another character” (Hints on Child Training, p. 4).
This means that as parents, we must attempt to shape and mold the feelings and thoughts of our children. Much of this shaping will undoubtedly take place by the example that we set, but we must go beyond example alone and actively train our children in the way that they should go!
It is safe to say that there is no such thing as a perfect child in this world – just as there is no perfect parent, thus the need for training is there for every child. Each home needs to be a place in which you, the parent, look to properly diagnose and remove that ailment that is so prevalent within your child. Every father and mother should strive to function in such a way that they might spare their child from succumbing to their own destructive nature.
To train our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is the most loving thing that we can do for them because it is a training that will carry right into eternity. As parents, we need to help our children to repress those natural tendencies that do not honor our Glorious Savior; at the same time, we need to help our children to more fully develop and express those natural tendencies that do bring Him glory! May God help each of us to be faithful to that end!