The Encourager

The Encourager

“Parents Shold Teach Their Children... About the Importance of Bible Study”

Parents Should Teach Their Children… About Sin and Keeping Themselves Pure

by David Holder

Standing in the checkout lane, four-year-old Blake wanted the gummy bears as much as he had ever wanted anything. He begged to have the candy. Mom said, “No.” He whimpered a little to see if this would do any good. It didn’t. Blake considered throwing a tantrum, but that usually backfired (in a literal sense of the term!). Then it came to him. He could wait until something diverted Mom’s attention, then slip a package of gummy bears into his pocket. No one would ever know.

But someone did know. His mother discovered the crumpled wrapper left in his pocket, and the truth finally emerged. Mom marched Blake to the store with what little money he had and they talked with the store manager. Blake paid for the gummy bears, apologized profusely, and who knows what else happened when they returned home.

This mother was using a real-life experience to teach her son right from wrong, good from bad. Godly parents are intensely concerned to teach these principles to their children, knowing that a child’s wrong behavior will at some point be sin. Teaching children in their formative years about sin includes two fundamental principles to be noted here and then applied.

Good Kids, Bad Behavior

God didn’t create any bad kids. He makes and entrusts every parent with good kids. But good kids learn to do bad things. Left uncorrected and untaught, it doesn’t take long for a good kid to become a “bad kid.” What is intrinsically good becomes corrupted by bad behavior left unchecked (Eph. 4:17-19).

Parents should recognize their children as made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27; 4:1) and given as a gift from Him (Ps. 127:3). As the poster boy or girl says crudely but accurately, “I know I’m somebody, because God don’t make no junk.” This view will help parents promote their children’s self-worth.

Children need to learn to love themselves in a healthy way, so they may learn to love God and others (Matt. 22:39). To build proper self-esteem, parents should carefully distinguish between a child’s person and behavior. The first fundamental working principle is for parents to help children see they are intrinsically good, though their behavior may at times be bad.

I suggest that parents not say, “Bad boy” or “Bad girl,” but use words that affirm a child’s goodness and our love for them while distinguishing their bad behavior. “You are a good boy, but you have done something bad. Because I love you, I will punish your behavior and teach you to behave better.”

Decisions and Actions Have Consequences

A second fundamental working principle is that decisions and actions have consequences. This principle is a component of discipline. Parents who love their children discipline them (Heb. 12:7-8), both instructively and correctively. Instructive discipline is teaching them right from wrong. Corrective

discipline is helping them understand the consequences of wrong decisions and actions. Corrective discipline typically includes inflicting a degree of pain. By means of an unpleasant or painful experience, parents help their children connect actions and consequences. This same principle is employed positively by reinforcing good behavior.

Parents do a grave disservice by not helping children understand that actions have consequences. Nothing I say here should be understood to sanction abusing children, but the Bible teaches that there are circumstances in which the “rod” is useful. The wise sage of Proverbs writes, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (13:24). “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (22:15; cf. 23:13-14; 29:15).

Most people who object to spanking children refer to the action as “beating.” This is a loaded term that does not properly convey what a parent does who lovingly disciplines with a spanking. This parent is purposefully inflicting a measure of pain to teach a vital lesson: Decisions and actions have consequences; wrong ones have painful consequences. As a child grows, other forms of “pain” are brought to bear.

From employing this vital principle stems the lesson of responsibility. Children learn there are consequences to their actions, that they are responsible and will be held accountable. Is there any principle more fundamental for an effective life and a proper relationship with God?