Assumptions are powerful for two reasons: first, because we often don’t recognize our assumptions (by definition, we accept them as fact) and second, because they do, in fact, shape our actions.
In almost thirty years of pastoring and counseling, I’ve discovered that many Christian parents hold false assumptions which they don’t recognize and which they base their parenting decisions upon.
Here are five:
- My child’s greatest challenge is behavioral. When it comes to teaching on the family, parents are often looking for the right method or a specific procedure for discipline or a style of communication that will get their child’s attention and change his behavior. Biblical parenting, however, is about cultivating a child’s heart—in a relationship with the parent and for a relationship with God. Behavior matters (of course), but any lasting change begins with reaching the heart.
- Having high standards ensure a child will love God. Godly standards or boundaries don’t develop the heart; they merely protect the heart. The bigger issue is that children have a heart for God and, as they get older, understand the Bible principles on which their parents boundaries are built. This will enable them to embrace Bible principles and apply them to all areas of life—even when the specific instances change.
- As long as my children are in church, other influences don’t matter. The local church is a vital resource for the Christian family. But God has given parents the responsibility to nurture their children’s spiritual growth. There is no greater way to discourage a child’s spiritual hunger than parents who bring them to church but then live an inconsistent or hypocritical lifestyle at home. And there is no greater spiritual influence on a child’s heart than a parent who has a personal, growing love for God.
- There’s no hope for my child’s future—our society is too far gone. We do live in a broken, twisted society. But so did young Timothy. And we see from his life that directed influence from a godly parent and grandparent can indeed counter ungodly influences and shape a young heart for God. Timothy’s life is testimony that even in a wicked culture, one person can make a lasting difference and impact on society. The future is as bright as the promises of God, and it is full of opportunity for young people who know the Lord to be lights in a dark culture.
- If my child walks away from the Lord as an adult, it’s my fault. If you know of specific ways you sinned against your child (ongoing anger, hidden sin, etc.), ask his forgiveness. But, as we see in Christ’s parable of the Prodigal Son, the free choice of a child is not a reflection on the parent. And a parent of a prodigal should continue to love and serve God and pray and wait for his wayward child’s return.
The only sure guide for truth (and thus for raising children) is the Word of God. It is, in fact, God’s Word that teaches us the greatest needs a child faces begin in the heart (Proverbs 4:23), that personal guidelines and family boundaries should be built on Bible principles (Matthew 7:24–25), that parents have the responsibility to influence and guide their children personally (Ephesians 6:4), that a parent’s influence is one of the greatest in life (2 Timothy 1:5), and that prayer and faithfulness often lead a prodigal home (Luke 15:20). God uses His Word to expose the false assumptions of our minds and to teach us the truth on which to build our lives and guide our families.
That’s why I’m excited about the new book, Making Home Work. Not only are all of the topics above covered in chapter-length detail (and some span multiple chapters), but the entire book is centered on Bible truth. Although in this book I gave many illustrations of specific ways our family learned or applied Bible principles, I aimed to write a resource that was first thoroughly biblical and then intensely practical.
If you see yourself or anyone you know making one or more of the false assumptions listed above, I hope you’ll read this book or give it to your friend.