A number of people have requested parenting tips from my parents, Dr and Mrs Iles. They had six children in six years, one passed away as an infant, and the remaining five are all strong Christians and established in life. A big part of their life has been sharing advice on issues of marriage, family and raising children.
Here are their top 15 parenting tips for young or prospective families…
1. Ask God how to raise your child. Judges 13:8 says, “Oh Lord, please teach us what to do with the child that will be born.” This is the prayer my parents prayed before each of us were born, to ask God how to rear each child. They emphasise the fact that the prayer says “us.”
Your marriage relationship needs to be right because you must be one in the task of parenting. It is a joint effort and agreement is essential on intention, purpose, goal, and important aspects of raising children. But although the goal is joint, the roles of father and mother are different. Fathers do things mothers cannot do, and mothers do things that fathers cannot do. Children need both.
2. The father must be the source of love in the family, as he loves his children’s mother. The mother is the supply of love in the family. She disseminates it to the family circle and wins the hearts of the children.
3. Fathers take responsibility for your family. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” It is the father who receives this responsibility, which includes enabling the mother to do what he cannot do. The backbone of the family is Dad. Too many fathers simply won’t be what they ought to be. Sometimes mothers won’t let them, but more often it is the former. Provide strength, authority, stability, and direction in your family.
4. Understand that God gave you your children. He entrusted them to you to guard them and guide them and bring them up for Him. Psalm 127:3 says “Children are a heritage from the Lord.” It’s important not to think so much that they are your creation, but that they are His creation; and not that they belong to you, but they belong to Him. When our children asked, “Where did I come from?” we answered, “From the heart of God.” On the Day of Judgement, God is far more likely to ask you what you have done with your child than to find out how successful, important, or powerful you were.
5. Establish the authority of Scripture in the whole of family life. Always ask, “What does God say?” and make that the clear standard. Decision making is never ultimately about peers, psychology, expectations of others, or the will of a child. It is always ultimately “God said.” To establish what is right, and the importance of always doing what is right, is vital.
6. Pray together every day for guidance and patience, wisdom and understanding in your parenting. Listen to each other’s prayers. Only One has the answer to all of your problems and that is God.
7. Model godly character. You cannot expect your child to become what you are not, or behave according to what you lack. They read you long before they listen to you. They remember what you were long after what you have said is forgotten.
8. Never make idle threats. Keep your word absolutely and always follow through.
9. Never argue with your child.
10. Pray every day for and with your child.
11. Be a whole family. It shouldn't be a matter of dad living his life, kids living their life, mum having her life. Primarily, your life is your family life.
12. All forms of evil and wrongdoing must not be overlooked. Whether swearing, stealing, lying, temper, wilful damage, etc. Discipline must invariably follow. The Bible speaks of a rod of discipline—not to speak of beating—but to make it clear that correction is an essential part of being a parent. Distinguish between wrongdoing with motive and genuine mistakes. Wrongdoing demands correction; mistakes demand patience, especially when the child is young, lest you demoralise them.
13. Avoid peer pressure from or with other mums. Stick with your own God-given convictions and be unashamed to do so. If anything, pressures have increased in recent times, due to social media, mums' groups, and the like.
14. Communication with your child is important.
15. Do not put your baby into day care if there is any possible way not to. No one will ever love your child like you do, and it has been given to you to rear and to love as only a mother can. Childhood is short—don’t miss out on it. You will spend the rest of your life reaping the rewards and the child God gave you, you will give back to Him.
There’s something additional for those in challenging situations of family breakdown, non-Christian spouses, or the myriad of things that disrupt family. The principles mentioned are largely the same, but there’s no way around the fact that parenting alone is harder.
Here are two scriptures to encourage you…
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.” Isaiah 54:5