The Book of Proverbs

Lesson 11 - “Positive Parenting Principles”

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

We have been doing a study from the book of Proverbs. We’ve already looked at Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to rule God’s people, then we looked at “Help for Hotheads” the scriptural answer to anger management, we saw why we need to be “Mastering Our Mouths,” how to find fantastic friends, the worst of all sins-Pride, Leaving laziness, eliminating envy, wisdom for better health, how to stifle stress and how to improve your marriage. Today we are going to look at positive parenting principles.

The truth is that we don't live in a "family friendly" world. We live in a culture where careers, cars, and cash are more important than children. The principles in this lesson should be used by parents, grandparents, teachers, or anyone who wants to have a positive impact on kids. These positive parenting principles are based on five things all kids need.

#1) Kids need acceptance

This is the absolute foundation for raising good kids. The most important thing kids need to know is, no matter what they might do or what mistakes they might make; they are still loved and accepted. When children feel accepted for who they are, not what they do, they feel secure and valued. One of the most misunderstood verses in Proverbs has to do with accepting our kids for who they are. It is Proverbs 22:6 and it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Unfortunately, many fine Christian parents misunderstand this verse to mean, "Have family devotions, take your children to Sunday school and worship, and when they grow up, they will not permanently depart from the faith." But that's not what that verse means. The key to understanding this verse is the word translated way, which means bent.

Today, our precision, fiberglass compound bows all shoot the same if they have the same pounds of pull. However, in biblical times bows were handmade of wood, and each had a different "bend" or pull. To be accurate, an archer had to know his bow and be very familiar with its bend, or pull.

So, Proverbs 22:6 could be translated "Train a child according to his own temperament or personality ("bent"), and when he is old he will not turn from it." This means if a son is not good at math, you shouldn't force him to be a CPA. If a daughter is not good at sports, don't force her to play that certain sport. On the other hand, if they are good at music, get them the instrument they want to play and pay for some lessons.

Many parents try to live out their dreams through their children, and this leads to disaster. Instead, discover, accept, and encourage the "bent" God gave your children. Stop trying to make your children like you. One of you is enough! God never intended your kids to be little replicas of you. The only thing worse than peer pressure is parent pressure. God created every child to be unique. Psalm 139:13 describes how God creates a life. It says, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.”

The word reins used here refers to personality, talents, intellect, and gifts. Don't mess up God's creation by trying to alter your kid; accept him or her as a unique gift from God. As parents, grandparents, teachers, etc., we should grab every opportunity to let kids know we accept them for who they arenot just for what they do. Also, our children need to know our acceptance of them never changes.

Not only do kids need acceptance, but also...

#2) Kids need appreciation

Acceptance says, "Who I am matters." Appreciation says, "What I do matters." If you want to raise good children, don't nag; brag! Try to catch them doing something good. Proverbs 16:21 says, “The sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.”

This means the best way to teach is to be positiveto brag, not nag. This is something I personally have had to work to change. I have always been quick to criticize and slow to praise, but I'm working on it! It's so easy to find fault in our children because no kid is even close to perfect. So, look for improvement, not perfection. Look for improvement in their grades. If all "C's" is an improvement, praise them. Some kids deserve more praise for all "C's" than others do for all "A's." Every kid needs a cheerleadersomeone who is in his or her corner. If you as a parent don't show appreciation for your kid, someone else will, and it may be someone who will lead him or her away from the ways of God.

We said that our children need acceptance, appreciation, and ...

#3) Kids need attention

Kids can't get too much attention. When a child doesn't get attention, rebellion will spring up in various forms. One counselor reports that most misbehavior on the playground takes place within ten yards of a teacher. Why would kids misbehave where they are most likely to be seen? Because they are saying, "Hey, I'm here. I want attention, and I'll do anything to get it." Rebellion and misbehavior says, "Please give me some attention." If kids can't get our attention by doing something good, they will get it by doing something bad.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” The word translated fathers could also be translated "parents." Few things provoke a kid like not getting attention because they feel rejected, and the worst form of rejection is being ignored. Kids desperately need attention and will do anything to get it. Let them get it from you as parents.

We said that our children need acceptance, appreciation, attention and….

#4) Kids need authority

Kids don't need another friend; they need a parent who is an authority figure in their lives. They need someone who sets boundaries or rules. However, rules without discipline are nothing more than suggestions. Kids don't need suggestions; they need boundaries, which, when crossed, result in discipline. Proverbs 29:17 describes the result of correct discipline, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”

Everyone who deals with children should know the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline promotes change, while punishment inflicts pain. Discipline focuses on future behavior, while punishment focuses on past behavior. Discipline is done in love, while punishment is usually done out of frustration or anger. God has given parents the responsibility and authority to discipline children. However, many parents discipline the wrong way because they misunderstand the truth found in Proverbs 13:24 which says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes”.

The word rod refers to the shepherd's rod, which was used almost exclusively for guiding sheep, not beating them. The shepherds would gently but firmly steer the sheep by simply holding the rod to block them from going in the wrong direction. That's why we find so much comfort in the last phrase of Psalm 23:4 which says, “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

David knew that when he died, God's loving rod would guide him safely to heaven. The Bible says we are to Train up a child in the way he should go; not beat him in the way he should go.”

Many parents ask me, "Should I spank my child?" There is much disagreement over spanking, but most experts agree spanking works better with younger children. This is because children at these ages may not understand the consequences of disobedience, and therefore, a spanking may be effective if done lovingly and with consistency, but without anger. However, most experts agree older children and teenagers should never be spanked! They are old enough to understand consequences, so discipline, such as timeouts and loss of privileges, and are far more effective.

Whenever we use discipline, we should never do so when we are angry, for at least two reasons. First, when we discipline in anger, we are more concerned with relieving the frustration than disciplining the child. Second, when we are frustrated, it feels good to jump on the kids, get in their faces, and say reckless things that can hurt for a lifetime.

Proverbs 29:8 says, “Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.” Anger let loose is called wrath. The best way to avoid venting our anger, which is wrath, is to keep our words to a minimum. Discipline should always be done when we are cool, calm, and collected.

We said that children need acceptance, appreciation, attention, authority, and finally...

#5) Kids need apologies

We need to tell our kids when we make mistakes; we aren't perfect parents and we know it. Nothing can heal a relationship like an apology and nothing prevents us from apologizing like pride. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”

Let’s be careful to be the parents, grandparents and loving friends and relatives that our children need us to be for them. Acceptance, appreciation, attention, authority and apology. May the Lord help us as we rear our family members for God’s glory.

Let’s pray.

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