Recently, I evaluated the books, advice, and paradigms which have influenced my parenting. While I believe that parenting books and counsel from wise parents can be useful and good, I want to ensure that the primary impact on my parenting decisions comes from God’s Word.
I embarked on a search for resources that describe what the Bible says about parenting. There are countless lists of verses to use when teaching your children to behave. I already own and use many of these. But I was looking for verses telling ME how to behave as a parent. And this was surprisingly difficult.
I didn’t discover many resources that use Scripture to teach parents how to behave toward their children. (However, one helpful publication I found was “A Checklist for Parents” by Pam Forster.) Since no one else was going to make this easy for me, I decided to compile my own list. Using Forster’s checklist and my own search of God’s Word, I wrote a list of biblical principles for my own parenting. It turns out that the Bible has a lot to say to parents! And so I thought I should share what I found, with the hope that other parents might be encouraged by it.
Due to the large number of verses, I grouped them into four categories. First, I have general biblical principles for parenting. These are general principles regarding our role as parents. Second, I have biblical principles for discipline. These relate to how we discipline our children, since this is a topic addressed multiple times by Scripture.
Next, I listed principles for how we should relate to our children. These principles apply to loving all our neighbors. But they are important to consider, since following these biblical admonitions is often more difficult in our own home.
Finally, I listed principles for our personal spiritual growth. As we grow in Christlikeness, our parenting will reflect that change. Our children will benefit as we draw nearer to our Savior and deepen our understanding of God’s Word.
As you may have noticed, only a fraction of these verses speak directly to parents or the act of parenting. As I studied, I started to realize that our cultural emphasis on parenting doesn’t seem to be reflected in Scripture. We are preoccupied with parenting, because we are so afraid of getting it wrong. I’m not saying that parenting isn’t important. However, I think our cultural obsession with being a good parent might not be biblically accurate. If we were primarily focused on growing in obedience to Christ and dependence on Him, I believe wise parenting would naturally flow from our submission to God and His Word.
This list is far from complete. I’m certain that I could study God’s Word for years and still have more to learn about motherhood. But there’s enough on this list to keep me busy long after my kids have grown up and started families of their own. It’s a good place to start.
What biblical principles for parenting would you add to this list? Leave me a comment with your ideas!
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40 BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR PARENTING
1. General biblical principles for parenting:
- Pray for your children (specifically, for them to follow God’s commands)
(I Samuel 12:23, I Chronicles 29:19)
- Give praise generously
- Pass on wisdom
(Proverbs 4:11, Proverbs 31:26)
- Teach your children to find their refuge in the Lord
- Tell your children of God’s wonderful deeds and His faithfulness
(Psalm 78:4, Psalm 145:4, Isaiah 38:19)
- Rightly handle the word of truth
(II Timothy 2:15)
- Teach them the Gospel and prepare them to recognize false doctrine
(Romans 1:16, Galatians 1:8-9)
2. Biblical principles for discipline:
- Be diligent in discipline in order to drive out foolishness
(Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 29:15)
- Teach your children God’s commands
(Deuteronomy 6:6-7, I Samuel 12:23, Psalm 103:18-19)
- Reprove, rebuke and exhort with patience and teaching
(Proverbs 3:12, II Timothy 4:2)
- Set an example for your children and do not lead them into sin
(Proverbs 20:7, Matthew 18:6, I Peter 5:2-3)
- Restore them gently when they sin
- Exhort and encourage them to walk in a manner worthy of God by loving others and doing good works
(I Thessalonians 2:11-12, Hebrews 10:24)
3. Biblical principles for relating to your children:
- Have compassion on your children and remember their weakness
- Do not bear a grudge against them
- Love them with love that is patient and kind, not boastful or envious or rude, not irritable or insisting on your own way, bearing all things and rejoicing in the truth
(I Corinthians 13:4-7)
- Display the fruits of the Spirit toward your children (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control)
- Walk in a manner worthy of your calling by showing humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with them in love
- Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth
- Encourage them and give grace with your words
- Be reasonable and joyful
- Be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, and patient
- Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you
- Lay down your life for them
(I John 3:16)
- Love in deed and truth and not just words
(I John 3:18)
- Love them as God has loved you
(I John 4:11)
4. Biblical principles for our own spiritual growth as parents:
- Seek God’s kingdom first
- Love God and others
(Matthew 22:38-39, Romans 13:9)
- Walk with integrity
- Choose your advisors carefully and remain grounded in God’s Word
- Provide for your children and your household
(II Corinthians 12:14, I Timothy 5:8)
- Remember you will sow what you reap
- Wives, submit to your husbands
- Fathers, do not provoke your children
- Do not be anxious about anything
- Pray about everything
- Think on what is true and right
- Be thankful
(I Thessalonians 5:18)
- Draw near to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need
- Ask God for wisdom
List of Scripture references*: Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; I Samuel 12:23; I Chronicles 29:19; Psalm 1:1-2, 78:4, 103:13-14, 103:17-18, 145:4; Proverbs 3:12, 3:27, 4:11, 13:24, 14:26, 20:7, 22:15, 29:15, 31:26; Isaiah 38:19; Matthew 6:33, 18:6, 22:38-39; Romans 1:16, 13:9; I Corinthians 13:4-7; II Corinthians 12:14; Galatians 1:8-9, 5:22-23, 6:1, 6:7; Ephesians 4:1-3, 4:29, 5:22, 6:4; Philippians 4:4-8; Colossians 3:12-13; I Thessalonians 2:11-12; I Thessalonians 5:18; I Timothy 5:8; II Timothy 2:15, 4:2; Hebrews 4:16, 10:24; James 1:5; I Peter 5:2-3; I John 3:16; I John 3:18; I John 4:11
*The above Scripture references can be copied and pasted into the search box on www.esvbible.org to read the entire list of verses.
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