Hebrews 12:14 – Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
There is no doubt about it. Being a parent is tough. Being a single parent, even more so. A single parent is the only one in the household making any income, so when work calls, the concert for your son that you want to go to may be impossible to make. But there are some biblical points that single parents, churches, and the world need to listen to in order to leave in unity and peace as the Bible proclaims.
Over the next few weeks I want to look at what parents need in order to raise up their kids properly, what churches need to understand about parenting and how it has changed since the time most established pastors grew up, and what the world needs to understand in regards to Christian parents and children.
First, for the single parents.
Proverbs 29:15 – The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
We need to set boundaries and limits for our kids. All parents are going to disagree on where those boundaries and limits should be, but we need to set consistent rules (notice, I did not say guidelines) for our kids. My kids, for example, know that I will require them to do their best at all times. “Go hard or go home” I always say to them. They also expect that I will require them to be early anywhere they go. Just ask them, “15 minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.” Those are two of the easier ones. But they know that they must be early and do their best or I will be upset with them. In the past, I have spanked my kids. When I was young I was spanked. Now that they are 5th and 7th grades I don’t spank any more. The rod is now taking away the xbox or the cell phone or the tv or visiting friends. Bottom line, they need to learn consequences.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
My kids know that they will know who God is to me and why He is the most important piece of my life. They understand why I believe what I do. If I am inconsistent with how I teach them versus how I teach or evangelize to others, then they will pick up on the deceit and will live that way. Being a parent is about transparency. Whatever you do, make sure it would be something you wouldn’t mind your kid watching. Yes, this means that as a single parent, do NOT have your girlfriend over to spend the night. The minute you do something like that, you are saying to your child that it is ok for them to do the same as they get older. Don’t drink alcohol in front your kids. Don’t smoke in front of them. As a matter of fact, instill in them a belief that drinking and smoking are not good for them. Let me ask you a question, mom or dad, do you want that 3 AM phone call from the police that says “we have your child in custody for underage drinking” or even worse, “we need you to come identify the body because they were driving under the influence.” Just teach them to say “NO” to anything like that.
1 Corinthians 3:10 – By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.
Be careful what you do with and around your kids. I will be the first to admit that I haven’t always made the right choices with them. Take a look at this blog post if you want to see my bad parenting skills in action. But if they understand that you have their best interests at heart, that you actually want them to enjoy these wild years of youth but not to make boneheaded mistakes that will damage their future irreparably, then if you miss a concert or movie opening or show up late to pick them up, it is not going to hurt your relationship with them. Just don’t make it a habit, it needs to be the exception, not the rule. And for the sake of your children, please, parents, bring your kids up in the way of the Lord.
Next week we will look at things that the world can do to make our lives as not just parents, but Christian parents, better and easier.