Christian Parenting Advice

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This is advice that I have for you based on my experiences as a parent, the advice that I received from my parents and from other parents. I am also basing a lot of this advice on my experiences as a child. After I became a parent myself a lot of what my parents said and did started to make more sense to me. When you are a child growing up, you don't always understand the "why" part of what parents do. I still remember while having several children in the house growing up and being taught right from wrong that any one child usually thought that we were too easy on the brothers and sister but also thought that we were too strict on them. You could ask any of them and they would basically tell you the same thing. One reason for this is that children and teenagers often think that the world revolves around them and things should go they way that they see things. One of the jobs as a parent is to show the child that life won't always go the way they think it should.

You don't have to agree with everything that I have on this page. You may have even found other things that have worked very well for you and your family. This is advice for you to take what you need and forget what doesn't work for you and your family.

One of the first things you need to do is to take your children to church. Start them out when they are babies. Our children went to church when they were weeks old. Just as soon as Mom feels up to going to church you should take the baby with you. Many churches have a special room that the parents can sit in with their babies. I still remember one of the first churches I attended as a child had a room with a large glass window in it so the parents could see into the auditorium with a speaker in the room so you could hear the preacher. This way you felt like you were right in the church service with everyone else but if your baby cried you wouldn't disturb the others in the service.
Don't be afraid to let your baby stay in the church nursery. Especially if this is your first child. A problem I see with brand new parents is that they are afraid that no one else can take care of their child like they can. If this is your first child you must remember that other people have experience taking care of children. The people in the nursery have a lot of experience with babies and small children. If there is any problems they will come and get you right away. Some churches even have a beeper they can give you so they can contact you immediately while you are in the service so they don't even have to come looking for you.

If you are a new parent, don't be afraid to leave your new baby with a babysitter. I know a woman who wouldn't even let her own parents babysit her new baby girl because she was afraid that something might happen to the child. Her parents had already raised three children of their own and now thay were taking care of grandchildren. I told this woman that she should let her parents take care of the child. They had a lot more experience raising and taking care of children than she and her husband had.
You need a break once in a while. You need to get away and go on a date once in a while. I recomend that you get away by yourselves once a week. If you don't have parents close by or any brothers or sisters that can help you out, you can take turns with another couple babysitting. This way both couples can get off by themselves occationaly. If you don't get away from everything and just relax for a few hours or so you will burn out which isn't good for you or your family. Get away ande recharge your batteries. Just make sure that the babysitter is a responsible person. Just don't be too overprotective of the child.

If you have problems with your baby crying, here are a few things that may help you and the baby out.
1. Try swaddling the baby. I understand that this will help the baby feel like they are back in the womb.
2. If you make a shhhh sound, it relaxes the baby.
3. Try swinging the baby. I remember when my boys were babies they loved the baby swing that we had for them. They would fall asleep in it most of the time so whoever was watching the baby could get some much needed work done around the house.
4. Sucking is helpful for a crying baby. This could be a pacifier, a bottle, or breast feeding.

Have you wondered which position is best for a baby to sleep on now? The medical advice has changed and they now tell us that a child should sleep on their backs. Statistics that I have seen say that when the advice was to have the baby sleep on their stomach there were over 5,000 infant deaths attributed to SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome). Since changing it to having the baby sleep on their back the number has fallen to less that 3,000 per year.
We had our boys sleep on their side in case they were to spit up or throw up while sleeping. Just make sure that they can't roll over on their stomach while sleeping. If you will pull out the baby's lower arm this will help to prevent the child from rolling over.
Please remember that some babies have health problems that require them to sleep on their stomachs. If your baby was born with certain birth defects, spits up often after eating, or has a breathing, lung, or heart problem, talk to your doctor about the best sleep position for your baby. Also remember that each child is different. What works for your oldest child may not work for your next child.
Make sure that you don't have a lot of things in the bed with your baby. If you have a lot of blankets or toys in the bed there is a greater chance that your baby may smother on something. Try to remember to remove the clutter.

I have known parents that have a hard time dealing with stress in their lives. If this is your case, make sure that you have someone that you can call to help you out when you are having problems with the child. If a baby or young child is sick this can run you to the end of your rope. The last thing you want to do is something that will hurt the child. Parents have been known to shake their babies and small children out of frustration. It is very important to know your limits. Call your neighbor, friend, sister or brother, or parent to come help you if it gets to be too much for you to handle. There are over 1400 deaths per year from "Shaken Baby Syndrome" each year. Many more are blinded or have spinal injuries each year from this. It can also cause behavioral problems with a child from the brain damage done to the child from shaking them. Damage can happen from just one shake, even if it last for less that 5 seconds. If a doctor or nurse suspects child abuse they are required by law to report it to the authorities.

Here is a page that has information about what you can expect your child to do each month in the first year of their life. This is one that I just love.

I have talked to some parents that don't take their children to church at all. They make the statement that they will let their children deceide if they want to go to church after they grow up. Well if you do this you have already deceided that they will not go to church because yu have let them know all of their lives that you don't think that church is important to you so why should it be important to them. They will have grown up doing other things on Sunday morning and won't have time for church after they grow up.
Don't ask your child if they would rather go to church or go to the park or go to a party. This again is telling your child that church isn't important to you and you are teaching them that there are a lot of other things that they can do besides go to church. Your job as a parent is to teach them what is right and wrong. You teach them what is important in life and what doesn't matter. There are many people in Hell today because their parents didn't think God and church were very important in this life.

If a child complains that something is unfair, this can be a good thing. I went through a phase when I wanted to make sure that everything was fair for all of the children. After a while someone would complain "that's not fair" when we wouldn't let them do something or wouldn't let them do something that an older brother was able to do. I realized at that point that you couldn't make everything fair for everyone in life. What a parent sees as fair is something that a child will see as playing favorites. Your children are different ages and they are not all on the same level of maturity. You might have a 12 year old that is more mature than his14 year old brother. You have to treat each child as an individual. When the children began to complain "that's not fair" we began to tell them "Life's not fair, get used to it. When you are out on your own the people out there won't try to make everything fair for you."

Don't wait to start to discipline your children until they are 4 or 5 years old. Many parents think that they won't understand until they are that old or perhaps a little older. They are wrong. Your children are a lot smarter than you may think. Scientists are always finding out that babies understand much more than we have ever thought. This is the reason that some parents read to their children before they are even born. I am not saying that you spank a three or four month old baby but remember that you can teach children at a very young age.
I have heard some very good speakers talking about the Biblical way to raise children. One of them in particular stated that your children should know "stop and come" by the time they are crawling. After they start to crawl is when they will begin to get into things that can hurt them.

I always thought that it was interesting that years ago the communists would say that if you gave them a child for the first four years of their life that they would let you have them for the rest of their life. The first four years of their lives are so important for a child.

Set your rules for them and write them down when they are first born or before they are even born. Don't worry about the rules. They will probrably change as you get older, wiser and gain more experience. You will also talk to others that will give you great advice and you will change your mind about how things will need to be done. Also remember that since every child is different that these rules will only be general rules to start out with and build on. The rules may have to be different for each child to some degree. This will be things like doing homework, how late to stay up, doing their chores and going to the mall with friends...

Watch your language when your children are around. I have often told my wife and other parents never to use any language or say anything that their child would get in trouble for saying. I have seen parents that cuss in front of their children and think it is cute when the baby learning how to talk or a small child cusses. They won't think it is so cute when they get the call from the principal at school or the child says it in front of the family member that doesn't think they talk that way.

Never tell your child that he or she is stupid or an idiot. I have known parents that get mad when their child is acting up and will tell him that he is a devil. You should be building your child's self esteem, not tearing it down. There are many people out there that would be more than happy to tell your children they are worthless. You need to spend your time letting your children know that they are great. Lift them up and encourage them.

Parents have to agree on how to discipline the children. It does no good to have a very strict parent that won't let the children get by with anything and have the other parent let them get by with everything. I'll tell you right now that the time to discuss how to raise the children is before you even get engaged. Why you might ask? Because once you are engaged it's a little late to find out that you have two completely different ideas of raising children. If you wait until you are married to find out that you disagree on how to raise your children you run a risk of having your children really turn out bad and you run the risk of getting a divorce from all of the fighting you will do about the kids.

The same discipline won't work for every child. Every child has different personalities and interests. When punishing a child you need to remember it won't do any good unless you hit them with something that means a lot to them at the time. If your child doesn't watch television, don't take television privileges from them. Also remember that a child's interests will change. Especially if you take away something that they really like to do. They will find something else that they will like to do. I would never take away church away from them. I have seen parents wanting to punish their child that loves to go to church so they won't let them go to church. Remember that the church teaches a child to obey their parents and to do what is right

Pick your battles with your children. Don't fight over every little thing. Allow them to learn on their own. Allow them to make their own mistakes. They don't have to do everything the same way that you do. There are things in life that you need to fight for and some that you should overlook. Decide what is important and what is a small matter. Your house will be quieter and happier if you can do this.

Remember that you can expect for your children to fight you on many things while growing up. It will be a constant struggle with most children to teach them right from wrong, responsibility, to keep their word, and to respect other people. I have often told people that there are two kinds of people that you can depend on when they tell you something. One is the person who does whatever he says he will do and the other person is the one that will never keep his word.

When you tell your child to do something, do you expect them to do it? I have met many parents that will tell a child to do something such as clean up their room. They will tell the child to clean it up and the child will ignore them. They have a certain tone of voice that they will use a few times and the child will know that they don't have to do anything yet. Then the parent will use a different tone of voice and After several more times of telling the child to clean his room the parent gets mad and yells at the child and the child knows that this is the voice that means that they need to clean their room now. The child doesn't respect the parent because he knows that the parent says to clean the room but the parent doesn't mean it. If you tell your child to do something, you need to expect them to do it then. If you don't the child will know it. Make sure that with everyone, but especially with your children that your yes means yes and your no means no. If a child doesn't learn to respect their parent they will not respect the teacher, their boss, the police officer or the judge when they get older. Teaching them to respect others when they are young will save them a lot of trouble when they become adults.

If you tell a child that you will punish them if they disobey you then you had better keep your word. If they don't obey you and you let it slide and not punish them they will eventually start thinking that you lie to them because you say one thing but do another thing. Then they will start thinking that they don't need to do what you tell them to because you won't really punish them. Then they will think that the rest of the world will be just like mom and dad.

As parents it is not your job to be their best friend while they are growing up. It is your job to be their parent. I can not stress this enough. You can be their best friend after they become adults. They will have many friends while growing up but they only have one Mom and Dad. It is a hard thing trying to teach them many of the lessons of life when you are trying to be their best friend. There are many things in life that a friend can not teach them, only a parent can. There are many things that you will have to be firm about and not budge on. A friend will let them get by with many things that will cheat them out of lessons that they need to learn that a parent can not afford to do.

A lady said to me that now her son turned 18 he felt that he no longer had to listen to her and her husband. I told her that when your children get too old to listen to you and obey your house rules they are old enough to move out on their own. There is nothing worse than having adult children in your house that won't listen to you, clean up after themselves, or do the things that are expected of them. If your child lives in your house they should take care of themselves and also be adult enough to follow the house rules. I worked with two women that had this problem at the same time. One of them still struggles with this issue and constantly fights and argues with her adult child. She won't tell him to leave because she says "Where will he go to?" The other parent told their son he had to go. She says it was the best thing she has done in years. He ended up moving in with friends and everyone is happy now and he gets along better with his parents. There is a lot to be said for tough love. We often ignore things in life until they overpower us We often try to just ignore a problem with a child or a teenager because it is easier at the time only to find out years later that an infant problem has become a full grown monster.

Don't fix all of your child's problems. If they do something and they get in trouble, let them be punished for it. I know a parent that never spent time with his children but anytime they got in trouble with the law he was right there to make everything alright and bail them out. His children learned that daddy would take care of everything so they didn't worry about getting in trouble. One of the children couldn't live with any family members or friends so their father paid for his rent, his phone, the internet,all of the utilities, and even gave him a car and provided the insurance. When the son wouldn't get a job the parents got upset but kept paying for everything. I told his mother that he had no reason to get a job. He was living a dream. Everything was taken care of and he could do what ever he wanted to. Teach them that everything they do will have consequences. Some will be good and some will be bad. It all depends on the choices that they make. Help them to make the right choices.

Don't forget to try to start a college fund for the children if you are able to. You do not have to pay for your child's college but any help that you can provide will be appreciated. My parents were not able to help me out very much when I went to college and I was not able to help my children out much when they went to college. This is something that I wish I could have done better but I wasn't financially able to. College funds can be a great thing for you and your children.

Always remember that as a parent you have obligations to your children that change as they grow up. The first few years of their life you need to teach them how to talk, how to walk, their colors, you potty train them and many more things. Then you teach them about God, morals, and honesty. One thing you must teach your children is how to live without you. This means you teach them independence. You may not live close to them all of their lives so they will need to be able to make decisions without calling you every time. If they do call you every time they have a decision to make, it is not a good relationship. Teach them to think on their own. Don't make all of their decisions for them. Let them make mistakes. This is how they learn. They will not do everything like you do but that is OK because they are not you. After they become a teenager you need to begin to give them more independence. They will have to earn the right to do things. For example if they are allowed to stay out until 8 P.M. and they want to stay out later you need to consider if they are handling their current curfew. If they never make it back on time I would not let them stay out later. They need to be home on time and show you that they are mature enough to have more privileges. One of the problems that I see with many young people today is that they want adult privileges without adult responsibility. Teach your children responsibility. Pets are a good way to do this. If they have a pet, make sure they are treating it right. They need to feed it and clean up after them. They need to be the person to take charge of its needs. Don't take care of the pet for them. If they can't take care of a pet there are many other things in life they will put off. When they turn 18 you will have to remember that they are adults. You need to back off and let them live their lives. If you have done a good job you won't have anything to worry about. Don't forget to pray for your children. Start praying for them before they are even born. If you are young enough, pray for them before you or your wife are even pregnant. After they turn 18 they need to remember that you will have house rules that they will be required to follow. If they don't want to follow your rules they don't have to live in your house. They can live in their own place and make their own rules. If you have done your job as a parent, your children should be independent of you after they become adults.

Teach your children about money. Teach them how to make out a budget and how important it is to stick with it. Also teach them to pay people the money that they may owe them. I can think of several examples of adult children that weren't taught to pay people that they owe them. One is a young man that owes his grandparents some money but he didn't have it and figured that Grandma and Grandpa would understand so he has never paid them. It has been over ten years now. Another example that I can think of is a young man that wanted to come back home to live for a while until he was a little better off financially. His parents told him that he could but he needed to clean up after himself and they needed $100 per month to help with the added expenses of utilities and meals. He never had the time to clean up his messes and he never had the money for his rent however he did have $70 to spend on his girlfriend on flowers from a flower shop for Valentine's Day. As you can guess, this upset his parents who told him he should have gone to one of the local stores and bought her a dozen roses that they had on sale for $15. He just didn't understand.

Should you spank a child?
Spanking is not the only way to discipline a child. There are many ways to punish a child. Spanking is only one of them. I recommend that you only spank a child for an act of willful disobedience. Never spank a child for something they do as an accident. If they accidentally spill a glass of milk or have an accident in their pants when you are trying to potty train them, these are not reasons to spank a child. If a child knows they are not allowed to do something, yet they do it anyway, this is an act of willful disobedience. Even if they do something they know they aren't allowed to do, you don't have to spank them. There are other ways to punish a child. Some ways will work with a child and some ways will not. My parents believed in spanking their children. I still remember my brother and I trying to convince our parents that spanking was the old fashion way of doing it. We told them that now you were supposed to give them time out and a few other things that we had heard and thought of. The reason wasn't because we were trying to help our parents to be better parents. The reason was because we didn't want any more spankings. The other methods that we had mentioned to our parents would not have worked with us even though we would have pretended that they did. However, the threat of getting a spanking kept us out of a lot of trouble. There are many shows on TV that have experts about family issues. Some of them are good and some are not. I have heard a couple of them on TV or on the radio make statements that any time you spank a child, it is child abuse. I won't watch them and I don't recommend that you do either. They just don't understand what spanking is. If they can't understand what spanking is, they probably don't understand other things which are important to being a good parent. If you have any of their books, just throw them away. There are experts that have done studies about spanking that state it is a bad thing to do. The problem that I have with these studies is that they put things like slaping your child in the face and beating them in the spanking catagori. This is where their research is flawed. Parents who lovenly spank their children are not the same as those who abuse their children.

Now with that being said, here are a few pointers on how to spank a child.
1. Never spank a child when you are angry. When you are angry you can not think straight. You may hit them harder than you want to and you may spank them more than they need to be spanked. Cool off before you punish them. If you have to, send them to their room while you cool off. Just make sure that you are thinking straight before you punish them.

2. Always be sure that they know and understand what they have done wrong and why it is wrong. You should have the rules made up before the child has done something that is wrong. Don't make up the rules as you go along. Make sure that a child knows that certain things are wrong. You don't punish a child unless they know why. Otherwise they will just get bitter because they may think you just enjoy punishing them for no reason. They don't have to agree with you that it is wrong. Often times someone doesn't realize how important something is until they get older but make sure they understand your reason.

3. Before I ever spanked one of my boys I let them know how many swats they were going to get. I might tell them I am going to swat you six times for this. They know this up front. After three swats I would stop and hug them. I made sure that they know that I did this because I loved them and wanted them to grow up to be a better person. Then I would finish up the spanking.

4. After the spanking was over I didn't bring up what they had done again. They had been punished and that was the end of it. To keep bringing it up is to keep punishing them. Let the past stay in the past.

5. Always make sure that your children know that you love them. My parents spanked me. That was a part of my life growing up but I never wondered if my parents loved me or not. I always knew I was loved. I always tried to make sure that my children knew that too.

Never slap your child on the face. This is not a form of spanking. This is considered child abuse by many people. I would tend to agree with them. God made the buttocks for spanking. I know a lady with a bad temper that got mad and slapped her step child pretty hard on the face in front of the child's Grandfather. He told her that if she ever did that again he would have her arrested for child abuse. This lady had been slapped in the face when she was growing up and had the idea that this was an acceptable form of punishment.

How about Christmas and the Easter bunny?
Is it ok to let your children believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause or should you not allow either of them in your house? This is up to each individual parent. You may not agree with what your brother or cousin or friend may do about this but respect their wishes. I know a lady who was a Sunday School teacher for young children. She got into a lot of trouble because she told the class that there was no such person as Santa Clause. Many of the children got upset and ran to their parents who contacted the pastor of the church. I wasn't there at the time but I understand that it got a little ugly before it was done.

When my children were growing up we had decided that we would make sure our children didn't get fantasy and reality confused. We didn't want them to find out that Santa Clause didn't exist and then wonder about God. We made sure that they knew that God was real but Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and others were just make believe. At first we were very strict about it restricting how much we would allow Santa in our house. Their cousins believed in Santa Clause so we had to make sure that they didn't say something that would upset their parents. I learned one day that it was OK to have Santa in your house. The one that taught me this important lesson was my oldest son David. He was pretending something with Santa and I told him as I often would "Now you know that Santa isn't real" and he told me "Yes, I know daddy. I'm just having some fun, that's all." It was then that I realized that he knew the truth and it didn't matter if he had a little fun pretending. I always wanted the boys to use their imagination. David has had two books published now and is working on a few others. Children need to be able to pretend. As long as they know the truth you can let them have a little fun with the pretend characters in our world. Who knows. If they can use their imaginations enough, they might come up with a whole imaginary world like C.S. Lewis did with the Chronicles of Narnia. I wish now looking back that I had encouraged my children more to write stories and write songs while growing up. It would have really helped them.

Love unconditionally

Your child should never have to worry about doing something that will cause you not to love them. They should never have to worry about doing something that will cause you to stop loving them. The parent child relationship is a picture of the relationship between God and us. Let them know that you love them no matter what and that you always will. This does not mean that you will love the things that they do. Many children do things that their parents don't approve of. You can love your children even while they do things that are wrong. Dad's, this is very important for you to realize. A child's view of God is based on their view of their father. I know a family where the father never wanted the children around when they were growing up. He would buy them things and send them money but for years he only spent time with them when they come over once a week and spent the night at his house. How would he spend the time with the children? They would go to a movie or watch TV. In the morning he would take them out for breakfast and then drop them off at their mothers house. The children know he doesn't love them the way he should. How do they feel about God? None of them have any time for God today. They will pray when they need something and they will occasionally go to church with their mother but that's about it. They will tell you that they love God but their lives don't show it.

Dads, Here is a bit of advice that I have heard from many Pastors. Please remember that "the best gift that you can give to your children is to love their mother."

I want both parents to remember not to put the children before your spouse. You have made a vow before God that you will love your spouse till death. You will always love your children but remember that they will grow up some day and leave you to marry the man or woman of their dreams. If you have put your children above your marriage and your spouse you will have an empty life after they leave your home to start a life of their own. If you and your spouse have partnered together to raise your children in a Godly home you will have a lot of joy after the children leave and you can have the time alone with your spouse like you did before the children came along. Your spouse should be your best friend throughout your life. Your children will see this growing up. They need to see that mom and dad love each other. You may not know it but girls usually marry a man that reminds them of their father. Boys usually grow up to marry a girl that reminds them of their mother. Your children learn how to treat their spouse from watching you. If they live in a loving home, they will think this is normal and will want a loving home to raise their children in. If they live in a home where there is a lot of fighting between their parents they will probably end up in a home where they fight a lot because they will have gotten the idea in their heads that this is the way it is.

I hope that this will help you as you try to raise a Christian family. I will be adding things to this page as I have inspiration and time.

Brother Hugh

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