Written by Steve Blumer, Pastor of Family and Adults at Hope Chapel

When you brought your child home from the hospital or held them for the first time through an adoption process, you didn’t get an instruction manual. And neither did your parents when they raised you.  So, people often parent by what they think will come naturally or perhaps they’ve read a book to two. Maybe they’ve watched some friends parent. But the majority of people will parent based on how they were parented. The way you were raised plays such an important role in how you parent your own children.

Some of those things were good memories and some of those come from things you don’t want your own children to experience. There could be some things that were so tragic for you that you will work your hardest to not repeat that cycle in your home. You do many things without ever thinking about them. They feel natural to you. I’ve had conversations this week with families who talk about what they do and are surprised how other families just don’t operate this way. Some go on vacations anytime they can because they want to fill their family time with good memories. Isn’t that what families do? Some spend time around the dinner table memorizing Scripture or the books of the Bible because that’s what families do, right? Some fill their kids’ days with sports or clubs because that’s what families do, right?

What are families supposed to do? What’s the best way to instill character, confidence, identity, ambition, responsibility, and faith into your children? If you asked 100 parents how they do this, you’d probably get about 100 different answers. It’s one of the greatest things about the God-given task of parenting. We have lots of freedom to accomplish His purposes into our families. But there are some guidelines in God’s Word for our parenting adventure.

For example, the book of Proverbs is full of real life applications to teach your children. Everything from dating, sex, friends, and work. The book of Proverbs is primarily written and compiled by Solomon, the great King David’s son, who was now the King of Israel. Solomon was a wise man, received his wisdom from God, but who learned many life lessons through poor personal decisions. The first seven verses gives us the introduction and purpose of the book. After the brief introduction into Proverbs, Solomon goes directly into teaching his words of wisdom in verse 8. Notice how these words help us with parenting.

Proverbs 1:8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching,…

Verse 8 holds tremendous words of wisdom already. In order to gain insight, direction, discipline, wisdom, and instruction, one must listen! I often wish I could remember half of what my parents tried telling me growing up. A parent will spend much of their conversations with their children saying things like “listen,” “pay attention,” “did you hear me,” “I told you yesterday,” “can you hear me,” “do you understand,” “how many times do I have to say,” etc. Part of our job as a parent will be to repeat repeat repeat. Just the fact that Solomon had to write “listen” shows that there is a tendency to not listen. For some reason, I assumed that my children would want to hear every word that came out of my mouth and would be dazzled by my guidance and knowledge. But they don’t. So be prepared to have patience and repeat yourself.

Listening is also tied with obeying or following the advice. It’s not just about hearing what was said, but doing it. That’s the important part. When we ask our kids if they heard us, it’s because we want them to follow through on what they heard. Solomon compares ‘listen’ in the first part of the verse with ‘don’t reject’ in the second half. Listening is not listening if there’s no doing. Jesus would often say “those who have ears, let them hear.” He wasn’t performing a sound check at the microphone. He was invoking a response. Genesis 3:17 says that Adam “listened to his wife’s voice and ate from the tree.” Those weren’t two separate statements. One proceeded the other and directly caused the next. What we listen to and give attention to then directs our behavior. As parents, we need to help our children understand that doing is the important part. We often emphasis the “did you hear me” which doesn’t always connect in the brain’s synapses as “now do it.” Be prepared to be very specific in our directions.

Something else that stands out to me is the reference to “my son.” Who’s speaking in this verse? Is Solomon speaking to his son? Is Solomon speaking to a young man as a mentor? The word for “son” could be translated as descendant. It could mean “my child” or “my grandchild”.  It could also be used in a generic sense as a young person but it typically has a personal connection. I believe this quickly shows the importance of taking care of our own immediate family.  It’s so important for the parents, grandparents, and family members to be the ones communicating and guiding and nurturing their next generation.  It’s great having school teachers, coaches, pastors, and Sunday teachers communicating and guiding and nurturing the next generation, but God calls parents to be a LARGE voice in their child’s molding.

We must not discredit our God given ability to influence our children, our nephews, our nieces, and our grandchildren. They are eager to listen. They may not act like it from the outside. And maybe you have burnt a bridge in the relationship in order to speak truth into their lives. So you’re not perfect. Neither was Solomon.  Talk to them and give them what knowledge you have. Talk about your experiences and your short-comings. Teach them what traps to watch out for.  Teach them how to be humble and seek forgiveness. Teach them how to show grace to the undeserving. And encourage them not to reject so quickly the things they have been brought up on from their father, mother, and grand-parents. Fathers should tell their kids to listen to their mother. Mothers should tell their kids to listen to their father. Parents should tell their kids to listen to their grandparents.

Proverbs 1:9 …for they will be a garland of grace on your head and a gold chain around your neck.

The way you parent will one day guide them on how to be parents.