Parenting in today’s culture is one of the most difficult challenges families face. Because there are so many views concerning raising children and discipline, parents often find themselves at a crossroads when deciding how to handle these issues. The question we find ourselves asking is, “What is the best way to parent my children?”
As I have researched, studied, and read materials and books concerning parenting, I always return to the one place I know that offers sound wisdom and proven principles concerning parenting – God’s Word. God’s Word is very clear on issues concerning parenting, so I would like to focus on one such passage to help us better understand how to “Parent Kids God’s Way.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a very important passage in Jewish culture and tradition. This passage is often referred to as the “Shema” and is one of the centerpieces of Jewish faith and prayer. It also gives strong instruction concerning parenting and family life. When I look at this passage, I see four key principles for parents and their relationship with their children:
1) LOVE YOUR CHILDREN THE WAY WE SHOULD LOVE GOD. Verse 5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your HEART and with all your SOUL and with all your STRENGTH.” When we love our children with all of our HEART, we need to love them emotionally. Children deal with all kinds of positive and negative feelings, so emotions are an important part of their lives. We must help them work through their emotions while letting them see ours at the same time. When we love our children with all of our SOUL, we need to love them spiritually. As parents, one of our primary responsibilities is the spiritual formation of our children. When we teach them concerning the things of God and live our lives as an example for them, they will learn true devotion. When we love our children with all of our STRENGTH, we need to love them physically. Do you hug your children every day? Do you embrace them? Do you hold their hand when you’re walking somewhere? One thing our children should never lack is our deep affection.
2) LEAD WITH YOUR HEART. Verse 6 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” This is a direct address to the people, many of whom were parents. We can’t possibly hope to instill right beliefs, values, and morals into the hearts of our children if they are not in our hearts. Life can only produce life, so when we value the life, power, and Spirit of God in our own hearts and lives; it will spill over into the hearts and lives of our children.
3) USE TEACHABLE MOMENTS. Verses 6-7 strongly encourage us to do this. These verses talk about the various times and opportunities for spiritual instruction. If we were to write these verses in modern-day terms, perhaps it would read like this, “Talk about them when you’re riding in the car, outside playing, getting ready for school, walking in the grocery store, and so on.” In other words, there’s an opportunity in every situation you face for a teachable moment. Do you sit around the table together and have family meals? Do you take advantage of time when your children ask you to do something with them? Misty and I have learned with our own children that there are many daily opportunities to teach our children about life in general and life in Christ. Don’t let teachable moments become missed opportunities.
4) BE CONSISTENT. Verses 8-9 teach us something about consistency. These symbols that the Bible refers to are called phylacteries. Phylacteries were small boxes with tiny rolls of paper containing Old Testament Scriptures. They would be attached to pieces of leather or fabric and worn around the head and wrists as well as the doorframes and gates to constantly remind the value of God’s law. This would be done on a regular, consistent basis.
When it comes to parenting decisions, discipline, and discipleship we must be certain we are being consistent. When we are consistent in our role as parents, our children will be consistent in their response.