Parenting Basics: Teaching and Correcting

As a Christian parent, I’m often reminded of my responsibility to pass on my faith to my children. I’ve heard it preached from the pulpit, read about it in the Bible, and am often reminded of its necessity in daily life with my kids. So for me, as I am sure for many of you, it is less of a question of “Should I do it?” but rather, “What should I do?”

The Bible places two responsibilities upon the parent simultaneously: teaching and correcting. These two things should be the bread and butter of our daily interactions with our children. Teaching is imparting knowledge to our children about our God. Correcting is aligning their thinking, actions and attitudes with that knowledge. Or in the words of the apostle Paul, “Bring [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Therefore it should be uncommon, it should be odd, in our homes for Jesus not to be mentioned and His word not to be regularly taught to our children. Here are some practical suggestions:

1. Memorize the Sunday school verse with them and rehearse it at breakfast everyday for a month, thus engraving twelve verses on your child's heart in the course of the year.
2. Teach your kids a song or hymn that we sing at church and sing it at bedtime, moving the Sunday act of worship into the arena of your child's everyday life.
3. Use the Sunday school handout on the church app and work through the questions provided there with your kids.

Like teaching is the bread, so correcting is the butter. The testimony of Scripture is clear. Our children are not morally neutral. Their hearts are evil and they are bent toward sin (Rom. 3:11-12) and the payment for sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

Pause. Let that sink in for a moment. Now, think of your interactions with your children yesterday. If you live in the same universe as me, then I am sure that sinful actions and attitudes displayed by your kids in the last twenty-four hours came to mind. Godly parents must think past the inconvenience and annoyance of these actions and focus in on the spiritual and potential – eternal consequences.

Our children must come to know, understand, and own their sin. Correction is the tool for that job. From consequences for acts of disobedience to casting vision for appropriate attitudes, correction is an everyday act that exposes the sinfulness of the child’s heart and prepares it for the good news of the gospel (Rom. 6:23).

It should be uncommon and odd for our children to sin and remain uncontested and unchallenged. Whether it’s a fit of anger, jealousy, or disobedience – these sins should not be left to roam and grow in the lives of our kids. Here are some practical suggestions for correction:

1. Set clear expectations for what obedience looks like, so that disobedience is evident to you and your child (in the grocery store; at a friends house; during homework time).
2. Do not allow your child to say “no” to you in defiance and receive no correction and consequence.
3. Whatever you do, be consistent. Don’t change the rules from day to day. For instance, if the expectation is no complaining about food at dinner, it should always be the rule. If rules are not consistent the parent acts based on his own preference that day and the child’s behavior is arbitrarily excused one day and punished the next.

Once a layer or two of Land O’ Lakes is spread on a piece of a golden brown toast all that there is to do is pray for our food. And pray we must – with them, for them, them for us, and us for one another.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).