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Christian Parenting Tips: Modeling for Your Children

Near the top of my list of Christian parenting tips is the need to be good models for our children.

Let me tell you a story to show you why I say this:

As young Johnny reached for the ringing phone one Saturday, his dad sighed through his teeth: “If it’s the guy from the office, tell him I’m not home.”

That evening the family went out for dinner. Before leaving the restaurant, Johnny’s mother looked at the check and mentioned that the waitress had undercharged them. “That’s their tough luck,” mumbled the father.

On the way home, they joked about the box that dad had bought for the dashboard of the car. He called it the “fuzz buster” and bragged that it had already paid for itself when considering the speeding tickets he might otherwise have received.

Later that night, as Johnny finished his Sunday school lesson, he contemplated what a good Saturday it had been. How much better than last weekend when his father had grounded him for cheating on his arithmetic test.[1]

For Better or For Worse...

An author for Reader’s Digest writes about how he studied the Amish people in preparation for an article on them. In his observation at the school yard, he noted that the children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him.

The author spoke to the schoolmaster. He remarked how he had not once heard an Amish child yell, and asked why the schoolmaster thought this was so. The schoolmaster replied, “Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?” Children are naturally great imitators. For better or for worse — they mimic adult behavior all the time.

Jesus said “a student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). As parents, you and I are our children’s most important teachers. And whether we like it or not, they will become like their most important teachers — us!

There are many examples in Scripture in which a child mimicked the bad behavior of his or her parents:

• Isaac followed his father Abraham’s negative example in deception (Genesis 26:6-11).

• Jacob followed his father Isaac’s negative example in unequal love for children (Genesis 37:3-4).

• Ahaziah “did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother” (1 Kings 22:52). His mother “encouraged him in doing wrong” (2 Chronicles 22:3).

• In Jeremiah 9:14 we read of those who “followed the Baals, as their fathers taught them.”

By contrast, there are also many examples in Scripture of parents being good models for their children:

• “The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways that his father David had followed. He did not consult the Baals” (2 Chronicles 17:3).

• Uzziah “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done” (2 Chronicles 26:4).

• The apostle Paul said to young Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

Our children are watching what we do and how we act. Our behaviors are reflected in their behaviors.

This means that we as parents need to not just quote Scripture, but to live Scripture before our children. Revealed truth is to be incarnated truth for it to make an impact on our children. Never forget that the way you live your life is the primary “message” your child receives.[2] Your convictions are caught more than taught.

Let’s be good models for our children!

[1] Bible Illustrations for Preaching, Michael Green.

[2] Kathi Hudson, Raising Kids God’s Way (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1995), p. 43.

— Dr. Ron Rhodes

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Christian Parenting Advice: The Gift of Love
Christian Parenting Tips: Parent-Parent Intimacy
Christian Parenting Resources: Training Your Children
Christian Parenting Advice: Developing Auto-Pilot Responses
Christian Parenting Tips: Ingredients of a Good Model
Christian Parenting Advice: Setting Boundaries
Christian Parenting Advice: Boundaries and Authority
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Childrens Bible Lessons: Your Children Can Trust in Christ
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Christian Parenting Advice: Teach Your Kids to Control Anger
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Christian Parenting Advice: Four Suggestions to Help Kids Handle Failure
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