Top 6 Parenting Do's and Don'ts

Published Apr 22, 2024
Top 6 Parenting Do's and Don'ts

Parenting is hard. While there's no manual on how to raise perfect children, we do have the Bible to help guide and direct us on the journey. No matter how hard we try, we'll always make mistakes as parents. But there are a few things that, if we're careful to do (or not do), we'll increase our chances of raising healthy, independent adults. Here are six parenting dos and don'ts:

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Mom comforting her daughter; how to teach children about God's love in hard times.

1. Do Forgive Often

Throughout Scripture, God commands us to forgive. It's the only Scripture that says if we don't forgive, God will not forgive us of our sins. Although forgiveness is a process and can be quite difficult given the nature of the offense, forgiving our kids is important, no matter what they have done. Children need to know they are loved unconditionally. Although we do our best with this, we should forgive them of any offenses. Even if a child is estranged from us, we need to communicate that we love them and that they can always return to us.

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Happy couple parents kissing with son

2. Don't Become Like Your Parents

No matter how hard we try, we take good and bad parenting models from our parents. However, our parents were raised by a different generation. These generations have different values. For example, parents of the 70s and 80s were taught that fathers had little to do in the parental role. The parental responsibilities were left mainly to the mother. Dads had a "hands-off" approach to parenting. However, recent generations have refuted that. Dads are more involved than ever in raising their kids. If your parents still have an active relationship in your life, it will be easy for them to tell you how to raise your kids. However, try not to adopt their parenting styles to appease them or because it was the model you saw in your childhood. A child may not need the strategy your parents would use to raise them; they need and want how you would raise them. Even if you disagree, assert yourself regarding how to raise your child and own your parenting style even if your parents disagree.

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3. Do Speak Each Other's Love Language

Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. In it, he cites five ways to love our spouses: acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, and physical affection. It's the same with children. Observe your child. In what way does your child give and receive love? Be sure to speak that language every day. Do something in their love language that communicates how much you love them. For example, we may find it easy to simply give our kids their favorite dessert as a reward, yet what they really want is a hug from their parent or a parent to tell them how they are doing a good job. Do your best to speak their love language so that they always feel loved by their parents. Take it one step further and communicate love in all five languages. This way, you'll never misinterpret their love language, and they will always feel loved and appreciated.

sad children with arguing parents in background, marriage health little moments

4. Don't Bad Mouth the Other Parent

No matter how perfect a marriage is, every marriage has its ups and downs. When a marriage hits a rough patch, it's easy for one partner to bad mouth the other partner to their children. This is a way for them to feel better about themselves and win over a child's affection. No matter how tempting it is, only say encouraging things about the other parent. Get professional help or vent to a friend if you need someone to talk to. Don't allow your kids to be the scapegoat for your emotional needs. It is not a child's responsibility to fill your love tank; it's your spouse's. If you're not getting that from your spouse, find someone who will. But don't say disparaging words that would cause your child to look upon the parent with disdain. They don't have the discernment skills to understand that is only one perspective, and they are free to have their own. They may feel pressured into believing your way to get your approval. This is not a healthy way for a child to view their parents.

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5. Do Be a Parent, Not a Friend

Another temptation in today's society is to become a child's friend rather than a parent. Because it is becoming more challenging to use traditional parenting methods, it's easy for parents to simply let kids have their way so they do not have to deal with temper tantrums or other issues that may cause a parent to have to use strong disciplinary methods. Even when the child becomes a teenager, resist the temptation to become their friend. Only when they are out of the house and do not need a parent can the relationship shift from one parent to that of a friend. Fulfill your parenting responsibilities and parent them despite using them for friendship to fulfill your emotional needs.

Related: Where Is the Line Between Parent and Friend?

Father hugging son

6. Don't Stop Loving a Prodigal

If a child is estranged, we may want to give up on them or have no contact with them. However, no matter how much they want to put a boundary in place, children still need you in their lives. In the parable of the Lost Son, the prodigal son takes all the father's money, spends it wildly, then finds himself hitting rock bottom. Despite the father's dismay over the situation, he patiently waits for the son's return. He does not chase after him but waits patiently until the son is willing to return to the father. The father keeps the door of reconciliation open through his patience and perseverance.

Only when the prodigal son hits rock bottom does he return to his father. However, the father doesn't reprimand him for what he's done. He doesn't gloat or say, "I told you so." Instead, he welcomes him with open arms and gives him a party to celebrate his return. Children need to know they will be welcomed home no matter what they've done. Emulate the father's example and welcome your repentant child with open arms. Never cut off the relationship unless necessary. God may use a difficult situation to display his love, goodness, kindness, perseverance, and forgiveness.

Everyone has different parenting styles when it comes to raising their children. Whether you choose to observe the suggestions above or go your own way, remember this: no matter what you do, never stop clinging to God. Surrender your children to him and do your best to raise them as God-fearing people who display the fruit of the spirit. Be a parent who is known as gentle, forgiving, and loving. Be the example they want in their lives. Live a life worthy of the gospel and a life that you would be happy to see your children emulate. When you are the example of a person they want to emulate, you have the best chances of raising children who want to not only follow in your footsteps but follow God in the future, too.

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Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website

Originally published Wednesday, 24 April 2024.