3 Biblical Lessons For Expectant Parents
by Jack Wellman
Are you expecting a baby? If so, here are 3 biblical lessons that might help you.
We should acknowledge the fact that children are a gift from God and there are no “mistakes.” God planned this from the beginning, whether we realize it or not. Several people I know said they were “accidents,” but God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations“(Jer 1:5). Read that again! Before Jeremiah was formed, God knew him, and even knew his name! I would include that in a child’s early Bible education, but a child’s character and disposition will be largely established by the time they’re five years old, so it is critical to start telling your children about God from the beginning. When my wife was pregnant, she’d actually read a book or Bible story to the child. When our daughter was born, she had no trouble recognizing her mother’s voice. That’s about as early as you can start, but why not start there!? The earlier you begin to teach the things of God, the more the child will begin to know God, and planting a seed now may bring forth much fruit later in their life. It is a sure and solid foundation upon which to build a child’s life. That is our charge as parents and grandparents, foster and adoptive parents…we must start early while they’re still like playdough that’s not hardened yet. God’s command to the nation of Israel was to “keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deut 4:9), and what you have learned about God, “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut 11:19).
In the Old Testament, God gave several commands for parents to teach their children about what God has done for them and what He’s done in the past, but parents are also told to instruct them in the way that they should go. The only thing is, the parent must go there themselves. The Book of Proverbs is an excellent source of the wisdom of God, and particularly when it relates to raising children. Solomon wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6). That verse does not say if you train up a child in the Lord, they will never depart from it, because many Christian parents have seen their children rebel against them and rebel against God. What it is saying is that if we train up a child in the way they should go, when they’re old, that knowledge won’t be forgotten. It is certainly better to train them up in the ways of the Lord than not to, because they will still learn….either from parents or from their friends, and one is not a reliable source of knowledge, so only “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge” (Prov 14:26). I have no confidence in this world, in child psychology or expert advice, especially if it differs from the biblical perspective on how to raise children. It’s natural that in all young children “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him” (Prov 22:15), so by all means, “Do not withhold discipline from a child” (Prov 23:13a). The “rod” is not an instrument to beat children with, but rather, refers to discipline, and that’s never pleasant. Correction is painful, but negligence is worse! We know that “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov 29:15). Establish early who the parent is and who the child is, and then be the parent.
Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Some of the prisoners I minister too still have their mothers writing them. Even though some of them have been there for over 25 years, their mother’s never gave up on them or gave up loving them. In a few cases, the father still keeps in touch, but the mother seems to have the strongest cord or heart-strings attached to their child. At least it appears that way on the surface because more mothers keep in touch with their sons in prison than fathers (by 10 to 1). That’s just the kind of love a child needs from dad and mom; a love that is not conditioned on their behavior. When they’re at their worst, it’s harder to love them, but that’s exactly the time when they need your love the most. Prepare your hearts parents…children will be a handful. They are high-maintenance and they will take a lot of your time, energy, and patience, but at least there are two of you to help. Giving mom a break is one of the most beneficial things that a husband can do for his wife. Since moms are the predominant caregiver in most homes, and moms have a full schedule almost every day, with the laundry, house cleaning, dinner, dishes, the child’s feeding, changing, comforting, and so on can place a lot of pressure on her. That’s why dad’s need to step up and help with these things and not just consign them to mom all the time. Dad, when you can, take care of the children and let your wife get away for the day or even the weekend. One man did arranged it so that his wife could spend Mother’s Day doing what she wanted to do for a change (hike in the hills). She said that was the best Mother’s Day gift she’d ever had.
Maybe you can give us some advice to share with expectant parents. Now, being a grandparent, I can look back and see all the mistakes I made, but what was it that your parents did that was essential when you were growing up? What would you recommend to expectant parents? What have you learned from experience in raising or being around children? What one thing do we often overlook? One thing the Apostle Paul admonished fathers to “not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). That’s not just good advice…that’s a biblical mandate.
Here is some related reading for you: 7 Tips to Teach Your Children to Love and Use the Bible
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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