If you are a parent or hopeful parent to be then a great resource to have on your shelf at home is the book by Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child's Heart. Dr. David Powlison, a well known Christian counselor, says "Tedd Tripp knows what he is talking about" and "he knows children, he knows parents...and he knows the ways of God." John MacArthur, a Christian pastor and author, says it is suprising "to see how few books are genuinely biblical" on Christian parenting, but you will not "find a more excellent guide" than this.
The book provides great resources and tips. One instance is how on "communication" Tripp recommends "children need communication designed to inspire and fill with hope and courage." "Your children know the pain of failure. They, like you, find things looking hopeless at times.... You can help them assess the reasons for disappointment. You need to help them understand the promises of God. You can encourage them to find courage, hope and inspiration from God, who draws near to the brokenhearted and contrite." (page 82)
Like this same idea, but taken to other levels, Tedd mentions correction because despite culture today refraining from this, God calls for it. "Sometimes a child needs to be brought into conformity with a standard. ... Correction gives your children insight into what is wrong and what may be done to correct the problem." The next might be censuring behavior, approximating a situation where the child leaves you in dismay or alarm at what they have done. "We should never tell people we hate them, or wish death or injury upon them," for instance, so we can censure our kids from doing that. (Parents should not do that either, monkey see monkey do!) You follow up verbal censure with other forms of "communication, such as instructino, encouragement, and prayer." This creates a good pattern for a parent to see their role in.
Other great advice is on entreating, instructing and warning.
The book is filled with advice like this that would guide an otherwise discouraged or overly prideful parenting style of a Christian who needs a reminder or guidance.
Early chapters deal with the real conditions of this world, it is fallen, and perfection is not had, because sin reigns around us and there is a battle in our hearts with personal sin, as parents and kids.
Later chapters deal with things like spanking. Tedd says rightly, for example, "what is a spanking issue?" Toddlers do not need to know house rules obviously. You might be limited to telling them not to throw food or water. As the child gets older, a spank may be necessary, but not for "clumsy" accidents, one should not spank on "occassion" where they do something like knock over an object by accident. It would not be right.
His advice on timeouts is insightful.
There's great advice on how to appeal to the heart, the conscience, developed character based on who God is/calls us to be, and vision.
Bottom line: there is a lot of wisdom from Scripture weaved into what you face. I know I have found the book helpful in seeing things from God's perspective rather than just pragmatics. It has kept me encouraged and on track as a parent in certain things. May it do the same for you in some areas you are curious about.
The book also includes application questions with chapters, which can help you, or else be used for a group study, which our church Woodbridge Bible Fellowship in Wylie, Texas may do for our Life Groups with parents/guardians in them.
--Pastor David K.