Hello victorious church!    

Many congregations I've ministered in sound a similar alarm: "We need help with parenting!" In truth, biblical
parenting is perhaps the most lofty and precarious of all undertakings, even above vocational ministry. Few things
require more patience, more wisdom, more personal maturity. Few things have equal potential to shape the future.
God did not appoint us to failure, but victory! May the Lord shine on you Christian parents.  

(This writing is a bit longer than usual, but I have done so intentionally to provide a tool that could be referenced
continuously.)

Children conform to what they see and hear repeatedly. They live by a subconscious premise that dad and mom are
gods. Every touch is felt twice as deep...every word replayed twice as much...every absence languished twice as
long. Walk gingerly!
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Date:
Message:
Treat your spouse with love and
honor.
People recreate their parents'
relationship in their own romantic life.
Of course, this is not always true, but it
happens enough to constitute a
predictable trend. Girls drift toward
boys that reflect their
father/father-figure, boys drift toward
girls that reflect their
mother/mother-figure, and both sexes
drift toward a relationship that mirrors
their parents'. Scripture alludes to this
phenomenon as generational
impressioning, and can be used for
good or evil. Consequently, the first
and greatest impression parents must
imprint on their children's tabula rasa
is a wholesome and fulfilling marriage.
When spouses consistently treat one
another with deep love and respect,
the child's imagination previews what
he can recreate for himself. If you don't
graphically define romantic love for
your children, Desperate Housewives
will.
TIPS: Show affection around your
children. Let them hear you say "I love
you" and "You mean the world to me"
and "You are an amazing
husband/wife" and other verbal
strokes. Have weekly dates and
explain to them what and why. Defer to
one another in the little things, like
handing over the remote control or
relinquishing the thermostat (kids
notice all this). Do not dispute in front
of them. Never jokingly embarrass or
belittle one another. Most importantly,
let them see you praying and seeking
Jesus together, as a couple.
Tutor in basic life skills.
Many good, even godly, parents
stumble here. Godly training is central,
but it won't cook you dinner, do your
laundry, iron your clothes, get you in
shape, balance your checkbook, give
you good hygiene, charm you with
social skill, or teach you other practical
life skills.  
Scripture calls for excellence in basic
life skills. Solomon said "ointment and
perfume delight the heart" (Pr 27:9
NKJV), praising hygiene that
welcomes. He also said, "Let your
garments always be white, and let your
head lack no oil" (Ecc 9:8), praising
clean clothes and good
self-presentation. Jesus echoed
Solomon, even while fasting (Mt 6:17).
Proverbs urges sound money
management (Pr 21:20), graceful
social skills (Pr 12:18, 15:30), and
diligent work (Pr 12:24, 21:5). Parents,
then, are responsible for tutoring their
kids in all these. Children
well-schooled in this regard have high
self-efficacy to manage the
housekeeping side of life well.
TIPS: Have good life skills yourself! Let
them help you cook, clean, fold, pay
bills. Bring them exercising with you, or
do fun things with them that are active.
Stop drugging them with sugar and
junk and eat healthier around them
and with them. Let them see you
interact socially and conversate
gracefully. Mothers, tutor your
daughters in tasteful beautification;
fathers, your sons in handsomeness.
Strong life skills are very welcoming,
open many doors, and invoke the
favor of God and man.
Train in godly habits.
Ephesians 6:4 commands parents, at
the father's pilotage, to raise children
in the training and truth of the Lord.
This command fascinates me, since
genuine godliness cannot be imposed
or forced (1Sam 8:1-5). Therefore,
parents are to train their children in
godly habits, in the hopes and prayers
that one day they will embrace it in
their heart. Note the difference in habit
and heart. Parents cannot do the heart
part. Only the Holy Spirit and the
child's own freewill can give godliness
an everlasting home in the heart. By
developing godly habits in your
children, though, you are making it
much easier for them to one day
embrace it as their own.
Some sidenotes. First, children are
more likely to embrace the Lord if He is
presented to them delicately. Fear,
guilt, and coercion produce temporary
compliance, but permanent rebellion.
Secondly, children are more likely to
embrace the Lord if they sense "it
works" for their parents. Children are
irrational, yet highly practical, they
think in terms of toys and objects.
They will evaluate your God, then, by
how well He works--like a toy. Parents,
does your relationship with God
"work"? Are you positive and
optimistic? Are you selfless? Are you
honest? Are you inspiring? Even
children can x-ray hypocrisy.      
TIPS: Train them to elevate Scripture.
Saturate your home with verses (Deu
6:6-9). The Spirit will pull your
children's eyes to a certain verse at
just the right time to create a personal
experience. When discussing
Scripture, don't preach at them, use
personal testimonies (Ps 78:4) and
creative parables (v2,3) that arrest
their imagination. You'll have plenty of
opportunities to discipline with the
Word when they test your authority.
Train them to pray and worship daily
(Col 4:2). Don't push them, simply
place them in the Presence and set
the example.
Train them to honor all legitimate
authority (Ro 13:1-7). Train them to
have integrity (1Chr 29:17 NIV, Jer
17:10), not perfection. Train them to
give freely (Lk 6:38). Train them to
admit fault and failure humbly (Jas
5:16), and to forgive from the heart (Mt
18:34,35). Follow the Spirit parenting
through you.
Trigger unique self-expression.
Just as each child has a God-given
gender, so also each child has a
God-given personality, or unique
self-expression. Personality can be
quantified to a degree. Gary Smalley
has done a good job for the church in
simplifying and Christianizing the four
basic personality types. After all, God
Himself has four basic attributes from
which the four personality types flow
(Gen 2:10, Eze 1:10, the four gospels,
etc.).
It is important to emphasize, however,
that within the four arch-types there
are idiosyncrasies and subtleties
unique to the individual. In this way
there is no one in the whole world like
us! Each of us is truly a divine
masterpiece! Parents are not to create
"mini-Me's" of their children. The
tragedy with life after The Fall is that
children were fashioned in the image
of their parents (Gen 5:3), instead of
the image of God (v1). Every child is
carrying a unique expression of God in
them, fearfully and wonderfully
fashioned by the Maker's brilliance.
Parents are to do anything and
everything they can to let their child's
divine personality breathe and
blossom. You may not know what it is,
they may not know what it is, but
neither of you will ever know what it is if
you force a duplicate of yourself on
your child. They are your child, but
they are not you!         
TIPS: Encouraging unique
self-expression in children is simpler
than many parents realize. Understand
"black, white, and gray", the message
of Romans 14. If it is clearly, and I do
mean clearly, right or wrong according
to Scripture (black/white), then speak
out and rule, permit or prohibit. If it is
not a black-n-white matter, but one of
personal preference or conviction
(gray), then be silent and implicitly
force them to discover their own
variance. Don't tell them what they
should like or dislike, prefer or not
prefer. Encourage them to navigate
their own gray-area choices, and as
they do, do not criticize or belittle when
it differs from you. Your job is to keep
them within safe pasture (the
black-n-white), but not to tell them
where to eat the grass or when to eat it
or how much to eat or if to drink from
the brook while they eat (the gray).
Make sense?  
Your children will favor you immensely
if you successfully administrate black,
white, and gray with them. Hear me
parents, they want and need both: the
safety of black-n-white biblical
boundaries AND the liberty of unique
self-expression in the grays.
Transfer genderized qualities.
Genesis 1:27 states that, from within
Himself, God made two separate
human genders. Together, male and
female would comprise and reflect His
total image. God is capable of both
fathering (Isa 9:6) and mothering
(66:13), of steadfastness (40:10) and
sensitivity (v11). (NOTE: God
nevertheless defines Himself in the
masculine, as "Father" and "Son" and
"His Spirit".)
We need both male and female traits,
then, to be whole and balanced like
our Creator. This does not minimize
gender, for gender dictates which sex
will be dominant and definitive in our
psychobiology. It does, however, call
us to a practical gender-balance. For
example, extreme maleness detaches
a person from sensitive qualities--how
many unfeeling and non-nurturing
people do we know? These people
have overdeveloped maleness and
underdeveloped femaleness (like
Jezebel). Likewise, extreme
femaleness detaches a person from
steadfast qualities--how many
spineless and exploitable people do we
know? These people have
overdeveloped femaleness and
underdeveloped maleness (like Ahab).
Gender is our God-given
psychobiology, gender-balance is a
practical fluidness to move back and
forth between sensitivity and
steadfastness. A gender-balanced
person is functional in both male and
female nuances, yet lives primarily
through their God-given gender. King
David is probably the best example in
all Scripture of a gender-balanced
person. He showed amazing fluidity to
be both sensitive and steadfast, yet
was unmistakably a man's man.  
Children and teens need a steady diet
of both genderized qualities. If not,
they will likely develop with gender
extremes. Fathers are to transfer the
signature male trait, steadfastness (Isa
9:6), mothers are to transfer the
female one, sensitivity, (66:13). If the
transfers are consistent and
successful, the child will develop into a
solid completeness. They will not crave
codependent relationships to supply
their missing half. Such people meet
the ideal profile for very fulfilling
relationships.
TIPS: Sensitivity  By example and
entreaty, motivate children to share
their feelings and become comfortable
with heart-talk. Validate and reward
them verbally when they do. Help them
see that "stuffing" is harmful, as is
communicating only from the head.
Encourage them to listen to others with
empathy and validation. Affirm their
tears and encourage them to cry when
necessary. "Strong people don't cry"
was born in a satanic strategy meeting
somewhere in Plasticville. Jesus wept
often (Heb 5:7). Develop their physical
affection by being affectionate with
them. If you are not affectionate for
personal reasons, resolve it and
become affectionate. Hear that dads?   
Steadfastness  Let them see you
standing and speaking against evil and
injustice in appropriate ways. Have
clear moral principles on which you will
not vacillate, and motivate them to do
the same. Make hard decisions with
their knowledge (when appropriate),
explaining what and why. Help them
ignore their feelings and do what is
best when the two are in conflict. Show
them that knowledge and wisdom are
the essence of strength (Pr 24:5), and
a strong backbone comes from a
strong mind. Therefore, read around
them, to them, and with them things
that have value and substance.
Teach wholesome relationships.
Those who relate with the wise become
wise, but those who relate with fools
suffer (Pr 13:20). Psalm 101 is an
excellent passage about prioritizing
good and godly relationships, while
distancing from harmful ones. Paul
reminds the Corinthian Christians and
us that bad company corrupts good
character (1Cor 15:33). Ecclesiastes
9:18: ...one sinner destroys much
good. Parents have the calling to
maintain wholesome company
themselves, then educate their
children to do the same.  
For several years I did youth ministry.
The cycle was predictable and
frustrating: a young person would
catch fire for the Lord, walk with Him
for a time, then start deteriorating
spiritually as they prioritized negative
relationships over wholesome ones. To
be blunt, many Christian parents are
flimsy in this area. To not alienate their
children, they become invertebrates,
spinelessly indulging their kids'
destructive "friends" and romantic
choices. After children become
independent adults, they are free in
God's sight to make their own choices
without parental endorsement.
However, as long as they are under
the parental canopy, parents are
under Scriptural orders to sift their
kids' relationships for them, even
more, to educate them thoroughly on
the whats and hows of wholesome
company.
TIPS: Parents, educating children in
relational soundness has nothing to do
with your personal hang-ups,
preferences, or expectations, but with
Scriptural black-n-whites. In other
words, race, nationality, economic
status, dress style, or any other
superficial quality is immaterial.
Forbidding your children to relate on
such premises is indeed shallow and
sinful. Remember how God dealt with
Aaron and Miriam for their racism when
Moses married an Ethiopian (Num
12:1,2)? Racism be cursed.
Scripture has relationship
black-n-whites, this and this alone is
what parents are supposed to
implement. Let Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV)
be a lighthouse: The righteous should
choose his friends carefully, for the
way of the wicked leads them astray.
Before I list some biblical relational
values, understand that most young
people will not be "there". The key is to
ask yourself and God, Is there a
willingness to learn and grow in this
young person?  We all can sense if a
person, even a young person, has
seeds of willingness or rebellion
germinating in them. Teach your kids
to look for genuine teachability in
others, rather than perfect people who
do not exist. Parents and all Christians,
the season has come to resurrect the
Bible's relational values and make
headway towards a more wholesome
relational life.
Scripture defines a friend as someone
who.....

.....walks with God (Ps 119:63, 1Sam
23:16).  
.....is an intercessor, a faithful pray-er
(Job 16:20,21, Dan 2:17,18, 1Sam
23:16).
.....encourages, empowers, and helps
you  (Ecc 4:9-12, SS 6:1, 2Co 12:19);
does not exploit your weakness like
Ahithophel (2Sam 16:15-23, 17:1-23).
.....admires you (1Sam 18:1-4, SS 1:4);
does not have a jealous eye like Saul
(1Sam 18:9).
.....struggles and suffers with you (Pr
17:17, Jud 11:37, 1Sam 20, Est 4:16);
does not dip out when lack or hardship
hits (Pr 19:4,7).
.....gives and serves, even sacrificially
(1Sam 18:4, 20:4, Jn 15:13, Ac 24:23,
27:3); is not stingy (Pr 23:6).
.....is gracious (Pr 22:11), not
hot-tempered (22:24, 19:19).  
.....overlooks and covers (Pr 17:9);
does not nitpick or corrode another's
self-image through negativity (Pr 11:12
NIV).
.....is honest and counseling when it
matters (Pr 27:6,9).
.....is open (Ex 33:11, Pr 27:5, Jn
15:15, 2Co 6:11-13).
Take out a financial or material
inheritance for them.
Proverbs 13:22 says, A good man
leaves an inheritance for his children's
children. Proverbs 19:14 says, Houses
and wealth are inherited from parents.
Familial inheritance is something long
lost in many contemporary Christian
circles. In biblical culture, parents were
responsible for accumulating and
reserving a material inheritance for
their children, even their children's
children! This is tough meat to chew
for many American Christian parents.
Let's look at Scripture.   
In Scripture, children labored within the
family environment (Gen 30:35,
37:12-14, Lk 15:29). This is where
they learned hard work, diligence, and
responsibility. This is where they
"qualified" for their future inheritance.
Each child, then, had some type of
material inheritance reserved by the
parents (property, houses, wealth,
etc.), but it could not be gotten until
the proper time, until the child was
mature and responsible enough to
receive it (Gal 4:1,2). The prodigal son
story highlights receiving an
inheritance before time, as does
Proverbs 20:21. In contemporary
America we have it flipped. Children
coast through life until they finish high
school or college, then they enter "the
real world" and become harshly
acquainted with hard work and
responsibility. If we return to Scripture,
parents are to "test" their kids all
throughout childhood and
adolescence, developing work ethic
and responsibility in them, qualifying
them for a material inheritance to be
gotten at the ideal time.

This inheritance is for one main
purpose: to fund and facilitate their life
purpose in God. How many destinies
would be reached sooner if faithful
Christians had adequate funding for
destiny expenses? We cannot throw all
the blame on "God's timing" and
"God's sovereignty". God's order (one
aspect of it) is to fund destiny through
parental inheritance, and when that
order is lost or misunderstood, faithful
Christians are delayed and God is
forced to provide in other ways.       
TIPS: Proverbs 13:22 and 19:14
presuppose financial/material
prosperity. For, parents cannot take
out a financial/material inheritance for
their children if they are impoverished
or barely surviving. Now let me be very
clear: I am NOT a believer in this
greedy, materialistic, hyper-prosperity
theology that many are chasing. It is
simply Christianized materialism.
Having said that, understand there is a
consistent biblical truth that places
financial capability with God's people
(Deu 8:18, 28:12, Ps 112:3, Pr 3:9,10,
8:18,21, Ecc 2:26, 5:19, Mk 10:29,30,
1Ti 6:17, 3Jn 2). If you do not believe
it, pray for it, and strategize for it, how
will you ever prosper enough to leave
an inheritance for your kids? Start
believing, praying, and strategizing
about how you can access God's
financial inheritance for you as a
Christian and Christian parent. Your
signature strengths, talents, and gifts
are a good starting point (1Sam
16:18-22). So is giving consistently (Pr
3:9,10)
Tighten the security of their
environment.
Children yearn to know their living
perimeter is secure. Because of their
smallness and lack of resources, they
inherently sense their own
vulnerability. Consequently, their eyes
look intently to mom and dad for
insulation and safeguard. When they
perceive their living environment is
secure, they settle emotionally and
gain the ability to trust. Ultimately, they
transpose this trust onto God,
believing He can secure just as mom
and dad did. Children need to feel safe
to develop well. Unsure children turn
into unsure adults, constantly looking
about, obsessing that fear and danger
loom around every corner.
TIPS: I urge parents to do whatever
necessary to create security in their
children's living environment. An alarm
system? Sensory lights? Watchdog?
Moving to a new location? Having an
emergency action plan? Important
phone numbers? Verbal reassurance?
Different families will need different
solutions, but find them! Tighten the
security of your child's environment,
and they will learn to trust in you, and
one day, in God. Jerusalem was God's
holy city and dwellingplace, yet even it
had citadels, watchtowers, ramparts,
and high walls (Ps 48:12,13). Why is
your child's dwellingplace any different?
Transition fully through parental
roles.
Finally, just as children evolve into
adults, so also parents must transition
fully through parental roles and
stages.  
Role 1: The Controller  This is the
"do-don't do" stage of parenting, which
covers babyhood, toddlerhood, and
childhood. During these years parents
essentially "control" everything
pertaining to the child. They monitor
and micromanage them closely,
constantly saving their life!     
Role 2: The Authority  This is the
"coaching" stage of parenting,
covering pre-pubescence and
adolescence. An athletic coach does
two things: establishes/enforces the
team's playing system (boundaries)
and encourages player creativity and
autonomy within that system
(freedom). So also parents "coach"
their children during adolescence.
They are to establish the system by
setting clear boundaries and defining
their authority (like curfew times,
hang-out locations, friend
requirements, media allowances,
personal health, and so on); and, they
are to allow much freedom and
flexibility within that system. It's also
like shepherding or herding. The
shepherd fences in his pasture, setting
boundaries the animals cannot
exceed. Within those boundaries,
though, they can roam and graze as
they please. This stage redefines the
parental role from total control to
general authority, allowing the child to
practice life and individuate in safe
pasture.

Role 3: The Friend  This is the
"co-equal" stage of parenting, and
covers adulthood. This is where
parents fully recognize, in word and
deed, the independent adulthood and
co-equal friendship of their child,
celebrating their child's launch into
adultness. The total control stage of
childhood is expired, the general
authority stage of adolescence is
expired, and now the friend stage is in
effect. Many parents extend stages 1
and 2 into their child's adulthood,
attempting to "fix" certain past
parenting mistakes. Doing so invites
tension, disorder, even demonic
antagonism, as this is not God's
blueprint. If parental mistakes are
perceived at stages 1 and 2, ask God
to fix it. Be humble and make
restitution if necessary and possible,
but look ahead toward His restoration.
Transition!
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