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Session 1

Part 3 – God’s Plan for Raising Children
Session 1 – How to Treat Our Children

Malachi 4:6

6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

Where should the hearts of the parents be turned? Why do you think this is important?

While our children are growing up, it is important that they are made a priority. Too often, parents get so involved in their own pursuits, that they neglect the needs of their children. Our heart should be turned to our children during their growing years. This doesn’t mean we live our lives for them or grant them all that they desire, but rather that we give them the time, attention, and support that they need.

Ephesians 6:4

4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

How do we sometimes provoke our children to wrath? What do you think it means to bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord? How do we do this?

This verse does not mean we never make our children angry. They will not be happy when they are being disciplined or when they are told they can’t do something that want to. But parents can at times provoke their children by disciplining them too harshly, by yelling derogatory remarks at them, or by expecting them to do something beyond their ability.

What we are instructed to do is bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord. I believe this means we need to spend the necessary time and energy to properly train our children about God, teaching them right from wrong, and admonishing them when their behavior is unsatisfactory. Raising children is hard work. It requires a great deal of time, energy, and commitment on the part of the parents. There will be times when you don’t feel like disciplining, or correcting, or teaching. You will be tired from work or you will not want to be bothered. But successfully raising children requires a determination and willingness on the part of the parents to always be consistent. No matter how tired or irritated we might feel, we can’t let our children’s bad behavior slip by. We must be constantly alert to training them and admonishing them. This is never an easy task. But when your children are grown, they will thank you for all your efforts.

Wedel remarks, "It may be worth while noting that our epistle phrases the result in terms of child psychology. A child has a vivid sense of justice. To be nurtured in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, like all schooling in childhood and youth, may produce moods of rebellion or desire to escape. But the mood is on the surface. A child expects maturity. A youth is an amateur adult. To be cheated of instruction – with all the discipline and even punishment necessarily involved – can produce a lifelong anger. Nor will secular education suffice. There must be admonition of the Lord."

Colossians 3:12-17, 21

We are going to examine this portion of Paul’s instructions to the Colossians and see how we can apply this teaching to our role as parents. Many of these principles that the Colossians needed to learn in dealing with each other are also good principles for parents to learn.

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

vs 12–Which of these 5 traits is most important in raising children? Which one do you have the most difficulty with?

All of these traits – tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering – are important. We need to be tender to our children. When children see that we love them, it is easier for them to put into perspective those times when we have to be strict in our discipline. If all they ever see from us is a harsh authoritarian figure, they may develop a low self-esteem. They need to know we care about them.

Kindness is a property that is sorely lacking in many homes. We need to treat each other with respect and courteousness. We need to ask ourselves what is the image the children see from us most of the time? They should see their parents as kind and loving. If all they ever see is a mean expression or harsh language, they will not realize that they are important.

Humility and meekness are also important factors is raising children. We must always be willing to change or discover new ways to get our point across. We must be open to God’s instruction and help. We even must be willing to change our methods of discipline or training when we realize that we have made a mistake. Occasional parental apologies are healthy, but personally, I don’t believe parents should be apologizing often or making a lot of excuses to their children for their lack of parental skills. Children need to believe that their parents are confident and firm in their role as trainer. Even though we try to project a firm image, that doesn’t mean that we don’t admit to ourselves when we have made a mistake and correct it in the future.

I think the most important trait for parents is longsuffering, which is another word for patience. We need to be patient with our children and never give up on them. There will be times when we are teaching some task, and we will get so frustrated that we just want to do the job ourselves instead of spending the time necessary to teach them to do the job right. But proper training requires an abundance of patience. Spending time with your children when they are young will help them be independent, self-sufficient adults when they are grown.

13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

vs 13–How does "bearing with one another" relate to raising children? Why is it important for parents not to hold grudges and have a short memory?

There will be times when our children can become very frustrating. But we need to bear with them. We need to have an attitude that we are going to succeed, and we are never going to give up. No matter how difficult a child may be at times, it is important that they learn Mom and Dad won’t give up. Children should never get the impression that they can outlast the determination of their parents. They will try. They will do their best to test every rule you make for them. They will constantly try to stretch the boundaries you set for them. They will purposely push to see how far they can go before you bring them back. This is why it is essential we never give up or give in. We must bear with them.

But when they are acting up, it is also important that we have a short memory. Most children can be mad and upset one moment, and then a little later it’s as if nothing happened. It’s important that parents also respond this way. To constantly be bringing up past bad behavior is not healthy. After a while a child begins to believe that he is really as bad, as stupid, or as irresponsible as his parents tell him. When this happens, then the child will stop trying because they will feel it’s hopeless. So no matter what bad behavior the child has exhibited, it is important that parents always let their children know that they are upset about the bad behavior but that doesn’t affect their opinion of their child’s goodness and worthiness.

14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

vs 14–What must we show in order to be an effective parent? Why is this so important?

Love is the most important aspect of parenting. Without love, our children will develop dysfunctional views of their self-worth. All discipline, training, and correction must be done under the umbrella of love. If we convey to our children that we are disciplining them because we love them, care for them, and want them to be productive citizens, it will go a long way toward helping them accept the discipline and learn from it. We must let our children know they are loved. And it is essential for them to know our love is unconditional. It is not determined by their behavior. If parents are angry, upset, or frustrated with the actions of their child, I think it’s good for the child to see their parent’s emotion. It will help them realize the gravity of their actions. However, I think it is also important later on to reinforce that even though you were angry or upset over their actions, you still love them.

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

vs 15–Why is it important for our children to see a peaceful attitude on our part? What are the bad effects of yelling too much at children?

I believe that peace in the home is important. This doesn’t mean that the home is quiet. An active family will be noisy. The house may appear from an outsider to be in chaos at times. But underlying this busy atmosphere, there must be a peace that rules the house. When parents and children are constantly in emotional turmoil, it will cause children to become afraid and confused and usually angry. So allow God’s peace to settle over your house, even if it’s a noisy, happy peace.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

vs 16–Why is it important as parents for God’s word to dwell in us richly? Share of a time when you prayed for God’s direction in raising your children. How does our Christian witness teach and admonish our children?

Each child God has given you will present a different challenge. There are no books written for your particular child. You will have to write your own book, because each child is so unique and different. This is why it is essential to seek God in our parenting. By reading the Bible, praying, and being in communion with God, we will gain wisdom and insight and spiritual help for raising our children.

Notice that Paul encourages us to teach and admonish one another in song. This is especially effective with children. Youngsters love to sing, and many Bible lessons can be learned through hymns and choruses. But whether we’re reading to our children, singing with them, or involved in Christian activities with them, everything we do is a witness to our children.

17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

vs 17–Which is more important: telling our children what’s right, or doing what’s right?

Paul says that we need to do everything in the name of Jesus and give thanks to God. If God is the center of our life and our activities, it will have an impact on our family. Notice that Paul says we need to do things in both word and deed. It is important for parents to tell their children what God wants them to do, but I also believe it is important that parents live their Christian testimony.

McGee comments, "It is the parents’ duty to teach the child the truths of the Scriptures and then to live them before the child. ... As a believer, you are to live at home like a believer."

Our actions are teaching our children, and our choosing right over wrong is instructing our children. Our youngsters hear our words, but do they also see our words reinforced by our actions? We may sing the song to our children, "Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow." But do they see us reading and praying each day? We may quote to our children the scripture, "I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." But do we only go to church when we feel like it? If we want our children to grow up believing in God, our life must be a constant witness before them.

21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

vs 21–What happens if we provoke our children too much? Why do you think children become discouraged from being provoked? How can you do a better job of controlling your temper with your children?

In this section of Colossians Paul gives specific instructions for parents. As in the Ephesians passage we examined at the beginning of this lesson, we are told not to provoke our children. In Ephesians we are told that provoking them may lead to wrath. But this time we are told that another danger is that they will become discouraged. I think this is true. If children are constantly harangued, they become discouraged and don’t feel like trying. They begin to believe the negative images their parents are telling them about themselves. Often parents provoke their children too much because the parents get angry too easily. Raising children can be a very difficult undertaking, and there will be many frustrating times. But it is essential we learn how to control our anger, and not constantly berate our children.

One way of doing this is when you are admonishing your child, it’s a good idea to think how he might be responding to what you are saying. When children have done something wrong, I think it’s healthy for them to see that their parents are displeased. But if we keep on haranguing and yelling at them, instead of helping them, it can actually cause our children to become discouraged. We want to correct our children. But we also want them to maintain their self-confidence and positive self-image. Sometimes this requires a real balancing act on the part of parents – we need to set boundaries without breaking the spirit. This may present challenges for you at times, but where did you get the idea that parenting would be easy? It’s not. It’s hard work. But as you see your children maturing into the kind of person God wants them to be, you will be happy you spent the time and effort.

Footnotes:

Wedel: The Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 10, pg. 731-732 1953, Abingdon Press

Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, vol. 5, pg. 273 1983, Thomas Nelson Publishers

Scripture of going to the house of the Lord from Psalm 122:1

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