I’ve heard it said that babies don’t come with instruction manuals. I think that used to be true, but anyone who has given birth in a hospital lately will tell you that you are sent home with a plethora of instructions, from how often to feed your baby, to how you should put your baby to sleep, even what is an acceptable temperature range for baby to be at. And if that isn’t enough, there is an endless supply of information at our fingertips via the internet. Instead of there being NO instructions now, I think sometimes new parents can feel overwhelmed with just how many instructions there are, and how contradictory some of them may seem. One source says to put your baby to sleep on her back, another says side-sleeping is best. You may read that babies feel comfortable at the temperature you feel comfortable at, but a well-meaning relative may insist that baby always needs to be bundled up, regardless of the temperature outside. With all the ever-changing information available, where is a parent to turn?
I have found much parenting wisdom from my Bible. The Word of God never changes. It was written by the Creator of heaven, of earth, and of people. I trust that my Creator knows how to take care of His creation. Sure, there may not be exact instructions as to how much a baby should eat at each feeding, but there is definitely wisdom to be gleaned about how to raise your baby into a responsible adult.
Recently my morning devotion had me reading from 1 Chronicles 22, about King David setting up all the materials his son Solomon would need to build the temple of God. There is a lot that we can learn from King David in this passage about how to raise our children. Here is a list of 5 passages from that chapter and the parenting advice I gleaned from them.
1) And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight; Also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David. And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death. –1 Chronicles 22: 3-5
David not only had a vision for his child’s life, but he prepared for it. He didn’t just wish and hope that Solomon would build a temple, he set everything up for him so it was easy for him to do so. Likewise, we can’t just wish and hope that our children will grow up to love God and to be good people, we have to prepare them to be. If we want our children to have a relationship with God, we have to model that relationship to them by reading the Bible with them and praying with them and going to church with them. If we want our children to be honest people, we have to teach them to be honest and model that same honesty that we want them to have. You can insert any trait here that you want. If we want our children to possess it as adults, we have to prepare them as children by teaching them and modeling it for them.
2) Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build a house for the Lord God of Israel. –1 Chronicles 22:6
David told his son exactly what he expected of him. David didn’t just hope that all his preparations would lead his son down the right path. He told him exactly what that path was. Now we as parents can’t expect to know exactly what our children should do with their adult life, but we can know certain things about how our children should live and act. Parents should not only lead the way, but tell their children to follow.
3) And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build a house unto the name of the Lord my God: But the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build a house unto my name; because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. –1 Chronicles 22:7-8
David was honest about his goals and his shortcomings. He was honest about how his choices in life affected him and the consequences he had to deal with because of those choices. I think too often, parents don’t tell their children about their faults and sins because they want their children to look up to them. Children admire honesty. A child isn’t going to love you less because you told them about some bad choices you made and the lessons you learned from them. It might even stop them from making those same choices and having to learn the hard way like you did. Trust me, I know it can be hard. I got pregnant when I was 15. I’ve made tons of bad choices. But I talk to my teenage daughter about them. I tell her about the choices I made and the fall-out from those choices. She listens. Take the allure out of the unknown for your children. Shine light on the dark paths so they don’t have to walk them blindly. You just might save them from some of the heartache you had to go through.
4) Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy God. –1 Chronicles 22:12
Regardless of your best efforts, only the Lord gives wisdom. As parents, we need to intercede on behalf of our children. Pray for your child’s future. Pray that they will follow God and be good people. You may fail. Your child may fail. But God never fails. He has the power to pick any of us up and put us back on the right path. We may never know what difference our prayers made in the lives of our loved ones until we get to Heaven someday.
5) David also commanded all the princes of Israel to help Solomon his son, –1 Chronicles 22:17
This goes back to the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I think this is even more true in this digital age we live in. My teenager just got a social media account, and I have asked my friends to follow her and keep and eye on what she is posting, in case I miss something. I welcome advice from my friends, especially those whose children are grown and living right. They’ve been in the trenches, they know the struggle, and chances are they have more wisdom than me in this area because they have more experience. Ask for help for your children. Look to leaders and those who are walking with the Lord to help look after your child’s well being. This doesn’t in any way let you off the hook as a parent, but it builds a community for your child. When children know their parent’s friends love them and are looking out for them, they might think twice before doing something they know is wrong, because they will have more people to answer to and more people who might catch them! Back in the day, kids knew that if a neighbor caught them acting up, their parents would hear about it. Nowadays it seems like most people turn a blind eye. We need to get that sense of community back.
Raising children is hard work. I’m so thankful for the wisdom from God’s Word to shine some light on what I should be doing as a parent. And I take great reassurance in the fact that God loves my children even more than I do. I have prayed many times for God to help my children turn out right even though it seems like I am doing everything wrong. When all else fails, turn to God. And show your children love. Love goes a long way!
I’d love for you to follow me on Facebook, and to subscribe to my weekly newsletter.
You might find me linked up to some of these awesome blogs! And at Christian Mommy Blogger.