Shining Light on Christian Parenting Myths
Q: What do you think is the biggest myth about Christian parenting?
Melissa Newell: A big myth about Christian parenting is that it’s different from any other parenting. Sure we have a foundation, The Bible, from which to work from and guide us. But let’s face it, parenting is a challenging job even for those of use who are armed with all the resources our beliefs award us.
I, as a Christian parent can’t create my child, I can only guide them and give them the tools to assist them in their lives and decision-making. I can read all the Scripture to them until I am blue in the face, but if that foundation is not in their heart, it won’t stick. Giving them unconditional love and support along with a foundation for loving and knowing God, is really the heart of it all.
Kona Brown: We were driving home from church when I asked the boys what they had learned in Sunday school. It was the parable of the lost sheep. “So who are the sheep and who is the shepherd?” I asked. “We are the sheep and Jesus is the shepherd!” pipes up the enthusiastic five year old. I will never forget what he said when I asked him why: “Because we are the ones who get lost, and He is the one who finds us!” A one-sentence summary of the gospel message! One of the (many) myths about Christian parenting is that our children cannot understand certain spiritual truths until they are “older”. This not only contradicts Christ’s own example (Matt 19), but it also negates the prophetic truth about the times that we live in (see Joel 2: 28-29 and Acts 2:17). The gospel is supremely simple and children are spiritual beings with spirits hungry for truth. They are ready for much more than simple Bible stories, and it’s up to us as moms specifically to maintain a spiritual rhythm in our home through prayer and discussion that helps connect them to the Divine.
Julie Kieras: When you’re bringing children up to love the Lord as a Christian parent, there’s this idea that because you’re following God’s Way, you’ll not have the same issues other parents have with their children. Because you’re instilling God’s Word in their heart, being a good example, raising them in church. The truth is, every person has their own will, and as much as we try to be great Christian parents, each child has to decide for his or herself to follow Jesus. I think many parents feel like failures right around the middle and high school years when kids start testing the limits… because “that wasn’t supposed to happen.” But we need to cling to the principle of “training up a child in the way they should go” and entrust our children to God’s care through prayer and His Word to guide their hearts back into His Way.
Dusty Shell: I think the biggest myth about Christian parenting is that there is some sort of magic formula that will produce God honoring children. There are so many parenting books, both Christian and otherwise, on the market that tell us that if we do ABC then our children will turn out like XYZ.
Parenting is hard. Really hard. It’s so easy to turn to these “guides,” desperate for a solution because we all feel the heavy burden of raising our children to know, love, and serve the Lord. What we often forget is that the only guide we need is our Bible. The Lord created us all. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, even our little ones. He gave us all distinct characteristics and personalities. He has a unique plan for each and every one of us. We are all different from one another which means that our children cannot be parented with a one size fits all mentality. Different approaches are necessary for different children and that’s okay. We are going to screw up. It is inevitable. As long as we are leaning on the Lord and looking to Him, He will show us the way to train them up in the way they should go.
Tiffany Malloy: The biggest myth about Christian parenting is that if we “do it correctly”, we’ll have good kids who respect us and love God. If our kids are not “good” kids, then it must be something we as parents are doing wrong.
However, I see in scripture, throughout history, and in my everyday life that there are a lot of people who reject or disobey God. Does their disobedience and lack of respect mean that God didn’t parent them well? Does it mean that He did something wrong? Of course not! So then, why do I think that I can do better at parenting than He, the Perfect Parent?
Once I really understood that, I began to ease up on myself. I still parent my kids with all the prayer, love, respect, and consistency that I can muster and while I certainly get discouraged when they choose to disobey me, I also know that at the end of the day, I’ve done the best that I know how to do.
Susan Heim: Probably the biggest myth about Christian parents is that we are no fun! Some people get the impression that we are Bible-thumping disciplinarians who don’t let our kids date or attend public school or see any movies not rated G. Christian parents raise their children in many different ways, just like any parents. (And we like to have fun, too!) The only difference in my family is that we want our children to know God so that his love will make life easier for them, not harder. Christian parenting doesn’t mean more rules; for us, it means more love.
Chere Williams: One of the biggest myths about Christian parenting is that it is based on instilling an irrational fear of God in children. I believe most Christian parents do teach their children to have a healthy reverence for the Lord as taught in Scripture. However, establishing a spiritual foundation in our homes doesn’t have to be legalistic because the premise of Christianity is about having a loving relationship with God through Christ. Should our children have rules? Absolutely. My daughter knows that when she makes wise choices, she isn’t only making me happy, but she is pleasing God, which is what matters most. Equally important is her knowing that when she chooses unwisely, God still loves her unconditionally and gives her grace upon grace. Our role as a Christian parent isn’t to foster guilt and shame, but to encourage our children to develop an intimate relationship with God, which isn’t derived from fear, but is based on their own personal experience of his love. Christian values teach our children to love, honor and respect God allowing them to fully enjoy the freedom, protection, grace and forgiveness that flows through the love of Christ and there is nothing fearful about that.
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