As the mom of two growing kids, I can say one thing for sure about being a parent: No one told me how hard this was going to be!
When my husband and I got married, we talked about how big of a family we wanted. I pictured us with three kids, a dog, the white picket fence—the whole deal.
Of course, in that picture, we’re the ideal Christian parents. Our kids are smiling and happy. We’re the American dream—the picture of perfection. My kids are obedient; there’s never a tantrum to be had. Oh, and they always listen and never do anything wrong! I seriously imagined us as one of those movie families on the Hallmark Channel.
Today, years after our introduction to being first-time parents, I know that while that vision was nice, it’s far from the whole story.
God has given us our kids to be stewards of their physical and spiritual growth. There will be ups and a whole lot of downs along the way, but it’s all part of the journey. And along the way, it’s our job as parents to introduce them to God’s Word and raise them according to the instruction of the Lord.
It’s our job to show them unconditional love when they mess up and encourage them to do things God’s way. And I’ve been relieved to realize that being the perfect parent is NOT required.
Whether you are raising younger kids, older children, or your kids have already left the nest, some of the very best parenting advice we can find is written in the Word of God. That’s the basis for every tip you’ll read here: God’s love and different ways to show that in our child’s life.
If you’re in the middle of a tough season of parenting right now, here are some Christian parenting tips that will encourage and inspire you to keep going.
6 tips for effective Christian parenting
- Admit when you’ve made a mistake. “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” When was the last time you offered an apology to your child? There’s a common misconception that parents never need to say they’re sorry, but nothing could be further than the truth. I know there have been plenty of times when I’ve yelled at my kids out of anger or frustration. Or maybe I haven’t really listened as they told me a story about their day. I’ve been distracted during our play time together, and I can tell that it hurt them. When we admit when we’ve made a mistake, it shows our child not only that they can trust us and that we care, but it also shows them the importance of admitting when they’re wrong, too.
- Don’t compare. With so many parenting experts, influencers, and endless amounts of information at our fingertips at all times, it can be easy to compare our parenting know-how to everyone else—even complete strangers! But God made YOU the parent over your child for a reason, and your parenting journey will be different from everyone else’s. When you start to compare yourself or feel inadequate, stop and recognize what is happening. Ask God to help you keep your eyes straight ahead on your family and what He wants you to learn and focus on.
- Talk about Jesus. Share the Bible with your kids. Moms, it’s not up to our church and youth group leaders to be responsible for our kids’ faith. It’s up to us! We have to make it a priority to talk about Jesus in our homes. (I’m forever working on this too!) Make time for family devotions. Bring Bible-based resources into your home. Prioritize your family going to church. Even when it feels like your kids don’t care, the seeds you plant now can make a world of difference later on.
- Remember, our kids are mirrors. Obsessed with your phone and social media? Watch out; your kids might be too. Do you easily give in to anger or frustration? Do you give up when things are hard? Your kids are watching. Remember, when they’re growing up in our care, especially as little kids, our children will mirror what they see at home. If you show them that family devotions are important, it will become the norm in their lives. If you don’t regularly spend time in the Bible, they’re less likely to as well. If you have a good relationship with your spouse, they’ll get to see what a healthy personal relationship looks like. It all begins with you. What will your kids reflect?
- Know their friends. I’ve seen parents do this really, really well, and I hope to be someone who does this in an intentional way while raising kids. Show an interest in kids’ relationships and who they’re spending time with. Ask questions. This is especially important as they get into middle school and high school. Stay involved and ask questions. Make sure they know that you are a safe place for them to talk about their friendship and relationship struggles, worries, and fears. In the same way that our heavenly Father is there for us in both our good and bad decisions and the ups and downs of our relationships, we should be there for our kids in this way as well.
- Get support. We weren’t created to do this parenting journey on our own. There will be situations that arise when you don’t know what to do or where to turn as a parent. When this happens, get support. That support can include talking with your spouse or your own parents for advice, meeting with small groups of other moms in the same stage of life, or even seeing a family counselor for more serious issues. Seeking out support as a parent doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you’ve failed. It means you’re seeking wisdom and doing everything you can to be the best possible parent for your kids.
How should parents raise their child according to the Bible?
Last but certainly not least, it’s always important for us to turn back to God’s Word for biblical parenting principles in every parenting situation we face.
Here are a handful of Bible verses to keep in mind as you lean into godly parenting.
- Set an example: “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” – Titus 2:7-8:
- Guide them from their youth: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
- Be careful of your behavior and intentions: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
- Teach them God’s commands: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
- Discipline when necessary: “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” – Proverbs 29:17
- Be an encourager of your child: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” – Colossians 3:21
- Remember that your child is a gift from God: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” – Psalm 127:3
- Prioritize correction in a loving way: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” – Proverbs 13:24
- Teach them to honor and listen to the Father: “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.” – Proverbs 4:1-4
- Raise them to love and care for their family: “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8
- Share with them the goodness of God: “We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” – Psalm 78:4
- Teach them to trust God even when it’s tough: “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” – Proverbs 3:11-12
- Remind them of the Lord’s compassion: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” – Psalm 103:13
I’m so grateful that raising godly kids is not just up to me. By leaning into our Christian faith and tuning to the Holy Spirit for wisdom, we can practice intentional parenting and set an example for our kids for years to come.
Which of these Christian parenting tips are your favorites? What did we miss that YOU would add to the list?
Abby Flynn is a writer, wife and mom of 2 living in Charlotte, North Carolina. She loves coffee, travel and one day wants to live at the beach.