Myths—they intrigue, entertain, and sometimes even humor us. From health and history to sports and science, myths and misconceptions seem to find their way into every realm of human thought and activity—including parenting.
As Christians, we probably dismiss most of the parenting myths we
encounter without a second thought, right? After all, we’re Christians,
those who look to and depend upon God’s Word to determine our reality,
not worldly platitudes or cultural traditions. If you’re among those who
think only naïve and untaught Christians fall for unbiblical
substitutes when it comes to parenting, maybe you’d better take a look
at our list.
Here are ten of the most common myths confronting Christian parents
these days. Mom and dad, as you endeavor to raise your children to the
glory of God, take note of them:
Myth # 1: “Children must be the first priority in our family.”
Heard that one? According to this myth, the child-centered family is the
successful family, so the more attention you give your children, the
better they’ll turn out. Basically, you’ve got to prioritize your
children over your spouse. No matter how pious they make it sound, it’s
not pious at all. The Bible says your spouse is your priority, second
only to God. Husbands, you understand this…God commands you to love you
wife as your own body (Eph. 5:28). Why? Because you’re in a “one flesh” relationship with that woman (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31).
There is no such relationship between parent and child; it’s a
different level of intimacy. To elevate the relationship with your
children above the more intimate relationship you have with your spouse
isn’t positive in any sense. It’s a subtle but dangerous myth that
always weakens and sometimes wrecks a home. Beware.
Myth # 2: “I should rely mainly upon the church—particularly the children’s ministry, to teach the Bible to my children.”
Most of us would probably deny believing this myth, but how we live
tells all. Evaluate your habits at home, parents. Where does the
majority of your children’s spiritual instruction take place—church or
home? Who provides that instruction—an Awana leader or you? We’re not
belittling the role of your local church’s teaching ministries. We are
pointing out that Sunday school and youth group should supplement your
teaching at home, not replace it. Both the Old and New Testaments assign
parents, not pastors, the responsibility of teaching their children
(See Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
Myth # 3: “The behavior of my children is a sure measure of successful parenting.”
That statement would cease to be a myth with a slight adjustment: Your
response to the behavior of your children is a sure measure of
successful parenting. See the difference? Your child’s behavior is
mostly out of your control; your response is not. None of us, especially
after the early years, can control our child’s behavior. But you can
and must control your response to their behavior. God’s simple
instruction to parents is found in Ephesians 6:4,
“Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Your
success as a parent relates to how faithfully you carry out that charge,
not how well your children receive discipline and instruction.
Myth # 4: “Quality time with my children is more important than quantity time.”
Some parents use this myth to ease their guilt for spending too little
time with their kids. That’s not the biblical model. When God instructed
parents to impart His Law to their children, notice how much time is
involved: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on
your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk
of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when
you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:6, 7).
We’re mistaken to think we can somehow schedule those teachable moments
into a few scattered, “quality” interactions between dinner and
dessert. Faithfulness to the parenting task requires more time than
that. As you make yourself available, you’ll begin to see how many
unplanned opportunities arise out of those times of sitting, walking,
lying down, and rising up.
Myth # 5: “My children belong to me.”
Behind this myth is the false notion that, “My children are my property, and it’s my right to raise them as seems best to me.” Psalm 127:3
says, “Behold, children are a gift from the Lord.” Even life itself is a
gift, isn’t it? But it still belongs to God. Parenting is a
stewardship, and we are stewards of all God’s gifts, including our
children. We provide care, impart instruction, and teach them to fear
God, and one day we’ll give an account to Him for how we carry out our
charge. Children belong to God.
Myth # 6: “My wife should take responsibility for training our children since I work.”
Husbands, don’t turn God’s calling for your wife (Titus 2:4-5,
to love you and your children, and keep the home) into a fatal
parenting myth. God’s instruction to your wife doesn’t excuse you from
parental responsibility. Scripture presents parenting as a joint-effort,
and it also issues several commands directly to you fathers—it’s your
responsibility to train your children (Eph 6:4, Col. 3:21).
It’s true, your wife will spend more time at home with the kids while
you work, but that doesn’t eliminate or diminish your responsibility to
join her—in fact to lead her—in the parenting task.
Myth # 7: “My children won’t be able to understand spiritual truths until they are much older.”
Biblical history, human history, and common experience demonstrate how
young children can comprehend spiritual truth. Remember the prophet
Samuel, or the young king Josiah? Samuel’s close relationship to the
Lord began at a very young age (1 Sam. 2:26), and king Josiah instigated spiritual revival in Judah when he was only a teenager (2 Kings 22:1; 2 Chronicles 34:33).
In 1735, during the American Great Awakening, God saved Phebe Bartlet, a
young girl in Jonathan Edward’s congregation, when she was only 4 years
old. Parents and pastor alike thoroughly examined her comprehension of
gospel truth and found clear evidence that she was born again. Time
proved the genuineness of her profession. One of her favorite activities
was attending church to hear the preaching of her pastor, Jonathan
Edwards (not a theological lightweight). Don’t fool yourself parent—and
certainly don’t try and fool your children. They are sharper than you
Myth # 8: “If I spank my children, it will exasperate and provoke them.”
Sadly, this myth is alive and well in many Christian homes. It
intimidates parents and spoils children. Contrary to our anti-spanking
culture, Proverbs 13:24
says, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him
disciplines him diligently.” Truth is, if you want to provoke and spoil
your children, just continue to shelter them from the painful
consequences of disobedience (Prov. 29:15).
No kid loves a spanking, and we don’t like discipline either, do we?
But the writer of Hebrews tells us that discipline yields peaceful,
productive fruit (Heb. 12:5-11). (Here are a few other Scriptures to counter this insidious myth—Prov. 19:18; 22:15; 23:13; 29:17).
Myth # 9: “Spanking my children is the key to successful biblical parenting.”
For some of you, spanking your child seems quicker, easier, and more
effective than the relentless dawn-to-dusk instruction called for in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (see Myth #4). Ephesians 6
also calls for “discipline,” but Paul clearly has more in mind than
spanking. The positive command, “Bring them up in the discipline and
instruction of the Lord” (v. 4), refers to the systematic training and
instruction of children. Literally, the word “instruction” could be
translated “putting in mind.” As a parent, you want to impart the
knowledge of God regularly and lovingly to your child under the guidance
of Scripture. That is the key to successful parenting. Spanking is just
one part of that larger task.
Myth # 10: “If I teach my kids properly, God promises they’ll eventually turn out well.”
No doubt you’ve heard this myth. It’s a popular interpretation, and application, of Proverb 22:6—“Train
up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not
depart from it.” How many times have you seen a parent cling to that
verse in desperation as they watch defiant children forsake all they
were taught? Some children sit under loving, prayerful instruction from
their parents, only to later shame them with a scandalous lifestyle.
It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it. But Solomon’s proverb is not meant to be a
gilt-edged guarantee your child will eventually trust Christ and live
righteously. Solomon is simply saying early training usually secures
lifelong habits. It’s a charge to give great care and consistency to how
and what you teach your children. God promises to bless us for parental
faithfulness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean our children will be
saved. They have their own relationship with God to work out.
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