Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Children are really adults in the making. As parents, it is our duty to direct our children’s journeys from childhood to adulthood. “Nurture” in Ephesians 6:4 means to cherish, prepare, coach, and educate. This verse also implies disciplinary correction— “admonition” —as children are reared or nourished up to maturity. Nurturing includes training, but it also means providing a healthy atmosphere for development. Producing responsible and godly children is the goal of parenting.
Childrearing is serious business. Eli’s hands-off parenting contributed to the early deaths of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas (see 1 Sam. 2:27–34). Job, on the other hand, took the parenting of his seven sons and three daughters to heart: fearing that his children might sin and renounce God in their hearts, Job rose up early and offered sacrifices for them (see Job 1:4–5). Permissive parenting is easy. Prudent parenting is hard work.
Consider several helps for nurturing children.
Nurture children physically. Structure and routine are essential for the well-being of our children. Healthy habits are part of this process. Good nutrition is important. By feeding children healthy foods when they are young, we are cultivating their appetites for the rest of their lives.
It’s important to teach our children to work with their hands. Boys should be supplied with projects to work on and materials to build things. They can also assist in repairs and household maintenance. Girls should help with meal preparation and other chores. It is good for our children to spend time with us doing necessary things in our homes. This teaches them responsibility and usefulness in the physical aspects of life.
Nurture children emotionally and mentally. Spiritually minded parents will restrict media intake in their family. Our children need face-to-face, heart-to-heart, and soul-to-soul interaction, not screen time. It is unwise to give an unfiltered smartphone to an immature child. We must create climates in which our families can bond emotionally and grow mentally. We are responsible to choose the best educational methods to suit our circumstances. Our children belong to us, not to the state or the church. When our hearts are turned toward our children, we instinctively discern the proper path for each child.
Nurture children spiritually. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The words “train up” mean to initiate or dedicate a desire. When a Hebrew mother wanted to wean her child, she would place a portion of the food she was chewing on her baby’s tongue. She literally touched the pallet of her child, and in so doing she generated an appetite in the child. Such a desire, or taste preference, set a pattern within the child that lasted a lifetime.
As parents, we must touch the spiritual pallets of our children. When children sense reality in Dad and Mom, it touches their pallets—it initiates an appetite for spiritual things. A heavenly atmosphere in the home greatly assists in the formation of holy desires. Teaching our children is mandatory, but more is caught than taught. Happy is the child whose parents walk in the fullness of the Spirit within the home.
We must shepherd the hearts of our children. Church affiliation and activities are always supplemental and not a replacement for our involvement in the spiritual development of our children. We need to do our part and then find the best supplementation possible.
Nurture children’s character. Habits are the nursery for character; therefore, discipline is imperative. Boundaries prevent bondage, so our children need fences. Avoiding potential snares in the first place is far better than attempting to moderate wrong habits once they are ingrained. Bad attitudes and actions should be nipped in the bud. It requires the commitment of both parents to raise children with character. A united front is needed to enforce the rules in our homes. We should steer clear of the slouching, sloppy, and syrupy laziness that permeates today’s generation. Wrong behavior calls for correction. The Bible is clear: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). The hard work of consistent discipline now can save parents from the heartbreak of regret later.
Nurture life skills. It is important that we pay attention to the natural abilities and proclivities in our children. We should encourage them in the things they are good at doing. We should also provide opportunities to enhance the development of their innate strengths. As we supplement their assets, we are preparing them for the paths they should take. Wise parents take notice of the uniqueness of each of their children and shepherd accordingly. We should work with their giftedness, encourage accomplishment, and reward achievement. We can study mentorship and apprenticeship opportunities. Biblical parenting in these matters gives our children a tremendous advantage in becoming productive and useful early in their lives.
- Evaluate each category of nurturing in this chapter: physical, emotional and mental, spiritual, character, and life skills.
- What adjustments do you need to make with your family members?
- Identify older parents you know who have successfully raised godly children and ask them for wisdom in raising your children.
Written by Evangelist Harold Vaughan
This chapter is taken from Home Improvement – Keys to Building a Happy Home. This book would make a great gift for fathers. CLICK HERE for more information.