Children, obey your parents as the Lord wants,
because this is the right thing to do
-- Ephesians 6:1
If you've ever experienced the joys and tribulations of parenting, you can probably relate to these astute observations from actor and comedian Bill Cosby:
"You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? Those who've never had any."
"No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior," adds the father of five. "And I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal."
Sound familiar? It's in this domestic arena that God has given parents an awesome responsibility: one of preparing children to make a positive difference in the world and readying them for eternity.
Thankfully, God takes a personal interest in the lives of those who love Him. And this interest extends to the patience and love it takes to raise children according to His high standards. The Bible tells us that respectful, obedient children don't just happen by accident. Godly parenting involves intentional actions and instruction. For example, consider what the Old Testament's Book of Deuteronomy has to say to parents about emphasizing God's ways to their kids:
"Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Children not only look for boundaries of acceptable behavior, they crave direction and seek love and approval. It's when they don't get enough of this from their parents that they can act out, perform poorly at school and gravitate toward the wrong crowd and bad influences.
So what's a parent (new or veteran) to do? First, understand that parenting is privilege rather than a burden. And second, remember that God is our heavenly parent. This means that human parents have the great responsibility of playing His role in the child-rearing process. Therefore, follow God's example for raising us: Give your children unconditional love, apply consistent discipline and give them spiritual direction. And don't forget to lead through your own positive attitude and outlook on life.
No one says that parenting is easy. But in a dark society that's quickly turning its back on God, it's arguably the most important job in the world--and one with literal world-changing consequences.