More Than A Name: Three Simple Steps To Parenting

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Shortly before the birth of my first child, I happened upon something unexpectedly wonderful, Baby Names Books! These plotless stories are fantastic reads, presenting every possible name from Abrafo to Xipil.  Unfortunately, I found these books to actually make the selection of our baby name trifecta to be all the more confusing. Should we name our baby after grandpa or after the noble of fire?

Similarly, determining how to responsibly parent our newly named person can be equally confusing. Do we go with the “Attachment Method” and breastfeed the little person until it’s a very noticeable three years old; or do we adopt the “Authoritative Parent” model and start telling our three month old, “Our house…our rules kid;” or do we do something different altogether? Thankfully to be godly parents we do not have to shift through thousands of cases studies which detail all of the varying parenting models. To understand how to parent well, we only have to know one book, the Bible!

According to Ephesians 6:4, biblical parenting consists of three simple things: “Do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” To be a godly parents, we humbly, sacrificially, and selflessly train our children by giving them “practical guidance for living, encouragement, reproof, or chastisement” and instruct our children by teaching them to think biblically, “about God, man, Satan, the world, and life.”[1] Admittedly, these three principles are huge. But through the power of Christ we can attain them. The world may come up with every changing parental guidelines, but we only have to master these three stable principles to be successful parents!arly, determining how to responsibly parent our newly named person can be equally confusing. Do we go with the “Attachment Method” and breastfeed the little person until it’s a very noticeable three years old; or do we adopt the “Authoritative Parent” model and start telling our three month old, “Our house…our rules kid;” or do we do something different altogether? Thankfully to be godly parents we do not have to shift through thousands of cases studies which detail all of the varying parenting models. To understand how to parent well, we only have to know one book, the Bible!

Now, this passage does not directly address many of the issues that span a child’s life such as determining what diapers to buy and when your child gets the keys to the car.  But the Bible can be used to guide us through these and many other decisions. For example, my wife and I could choose to go with disposable diapers because we discovered that our child was allergic to cotton. To place the little person into cotton would “provoke” him/her by making him/her uncomfortable and more likely to be unpleasant to others. Or we could decide not to give our sixteen-year-old the car keys because he/she had been caught cheating on a test. Grounding and restricting privileges helps him/her to understand that liars do not excel at life and that God hates sin. Whether we are deciding on a bedtime or determining the punishment for not doing chores, we are to do so in humble manner, seeking to help our children to be moral citizens and confessors of Christ. (If you are looking for a more in depth look at how to apply scripture to you and your family, I highly recommend the following books: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and The Faithful Parent by Martha Peace & Stewart Scott.)

Before we leave and chance another look at a baby book, we need to consider a word of caution. Namely, we must remember that being a godly parent does not ensure our children’s salvation. Our little ones are much more than their family name. They are souls that “bear the stain of original sin” and experience separation from Christ (Ps 51:5).[2] And just as a name does not determine a person’s future, no amount of humility, instruction, or training on our part will guarantee a child’s salvation. As parents, we can do no work to save ourselves or our children (Eph. 2:8-9). And the great news is that we are not called to save any child and nor are we held responsible for their sins (Ezek. 18:20). We are called to point them to Christ by modeling obedience and by declaring the truth of scripture (Deut. 6:4-9). God saves (Eph. 1:3-5)! If we strive to live out Ephesians 6 and confess our sin when we fail to meet God’s perfect standard, we will have done all that the name above every name has asked of us. We will have been faithful parents!

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